3 cool and affordable US road trips

It's common knowledge that America boasts some of the most beautiful locations on planet Earth. Thus, the constant flow of tourists into the country is hardly surprising. However, at over 3,617,827 square miles large and with over 330 million citizens, it’s a nation far too enormous to explore all at once, not to mention that doing so would be mighty expensive.

That’s why many take to the road instead. Road trips offer an affordable way to venture America whilst remaining an incredible one of a kind experience.

Read on to learn about three of the coolest US road trips around. 

The Pacific Coast Highway

Photo by Oscar O'Neill on Unsplash

The Pacific Coast Highway road trip is nothing short of iconic. Running from San Francisco to San Diego, the route offers 600 miles of the best of California’s beautifully natural coastline. Intended to be explored in a leisurely manner, it is renowned for being tremendously scenic, full of ocean and mountain views. 

The trip starts in the luscious San Francisco. Home to both a perfect blend of greenery and city bustle, it's no doubt an exciting city to explore. From Golden Gate Park to Chinatown to the endless food options, there is something for everyone to enjoy! 

Next, with a striking mountainous backdrop, the route heads to Santa Cruz, a small but infamous coastal city, before heading on to the quaint locations of Cambria and Morro Bay.

Next on the map is San Luis Obispo, which boasts historical architecture, museums, and an abundance of craft beer. After passing through the historical Danish village of Solvang and the very charming Los Olivos, home to many a winery, the route reaches Santa Barbara, which is well known for its sandy beaches and stunning sunsets. 

The final two stops are Los Angeles and of course, San Diego. From Santa Monica Pier to Rodeo Drive and the Hollywood Sign, LA is arguably one of the most exciting cities on Earth. Similarly, from its infamous zoo to its natural reserves, there’s nowhere like the surfer’s paradise that is San Diego; a perfect place to end the road trip. 

Whilst it’s possible to complete the trip in just a day, to truly soak up the beautiful scenes and the many unique cities visited, it's encouraged to adopt a leisurely pace with a few overnight stops instead. Either way, the value for money is fantastic.

The Appalachian Trail

Photo by John Verrone on Unsplash

The Appalachian Trial is a route that can either be hiked or driven. Whilst hiking takes an average of six months, driving takes on average one to two weeks. 

Starting in Maine and ending in Georgia, the drive runs parallel to the hiking paths, hence none of the natural beauty goes amiss. The northernmost elements of the trail feature an abundance of foliage and wilderness. From the White Mountain National Forest in Maine through to New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the route is off to a daring start.

New England and Vermont’s Green Mountains follow, before arriving at the New York-Connecticut border. Rather than traversing into the cities, the route remains on the outskirts amongst the calmness of open fields, farmland, hills and rivers.

The next stop is the Delaware Water Gap which is home to the two tallest waterfalls in Pennsylvania amongst 40 miles of forest, hills and rivers. Continuing on South, the route meets Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and stretches of North Carolina’s well renowned Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Finally, it ends in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests of Georgia, the most southern part of the drive. 

Rather than passing through urbanity, the route is one of complete nature; that is, mountains, national parks, forests and rivers. Although the mountainous aspects of the route are not for the faint of heart, existing as true escapism, it’s no wonder the Appalachian trail is so popular. 

Utah Route 12

Photo by Michael Louie on Unsplash

Last but not least is the Utah Route 12, which is also fittingly known as the ‘journey through time’. The route travels through Southern Utah and can be taken West to East, or vice versa. 

Beginning in the West, the route commences in the small town of Panguitch before shortly passing by the world-famous Red Canyon tunnels. It continues on to the spectacular red rock wonderland that is Bryce Canyon, which is arguably the most notable point of the trip. 

The next stop is Kodachrome Basin State Park, a lesser-known park, but a family favourite surrounded by picturesque communities. 

Upon driving through the subsequent scenic hilltops with views of Escalante River, the trip heads downhill, soon arriving at the Escalante River Trail, home to the famous Escalante Natural Arch and the Escalante Natural Bridge.

Next it runs along the steep Hogback Area, before winding up at Boulder Mountain, a high mountain peak home to unique mountain lakes. Finally, it passes the multicoloured Capitol Reef National Park and stretches of Dixie National Forest, before ending up in the idyllic town of Torrey. 

Featuring mountains, hills, red rocks, cliffs, forests, meadows, lakes, and jaw-dropping backdrops along the way, this diverse route has certainly earned its title of the All-American Road. 

Summary 

There's no doubt that taking a flight-free approach to exploring America is worthwhile. With unique yet accessible routes such as the Pacific Coast Highway, the Utah Route 12, and the Appalachian Trail, one has the freedom to determine how long the road trip will last and thus, how much it will cost too.