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Seven of the Most Beautiful Roads in the United States

A bridge on Highway 101 along the beach in Del Mar, California

About 75 percent of Americans are expected to travel by car this summer. Taking the scenic route along such roadways as Highway 101, seen above in Del Mar, California, can make the trip even more worthwhile.
Art Wager/Getty Images

“SEE AMERICA FIRST,” proclaimed an April 1, 1906, headline in the New York Times, encouraging American tourists to expand their vacation horizons beyond Europe. The slogan, debuted by Utah boosters a few months earlier to promote westward travel, received the Times’ enthusiastic endorsement: “In a fortnight the Far Easterner can really go Far West and see things worth seeing, see many scenic wonders by the way.”

Today, affordable flights to far-flung destinations abound, and it’s easy for the American traveler to again lose sight of how much beauty and diversity exists in their own backyard. The great American road trip has long offered a cure for such complacency, and this summer should be no different: About 75 percent of Americans are expected to travel by car.

Seeking inspiration for your own road trip? These roads are more than just pathways to some of the nation’s most compelling destinations—they’re unforgettable in their own right. With scenic vistas, roadside attractions and historic curiosities aplenty, these routes call to mind another bygone travel slogan: Getting there is half the fun!

Alaska Highway, Alaska

sign for the entrance of the Alaska Highway

On the way to the permafrost of the Alaskan tundra, eagle-eyed motorists may spot caribou, moose and grizzly bears along the road.

Michael DeFreitas North America/Alamy

In the early days of World War II, fears of a potential attack on the Territory of Alaska spurred military officials to create the Alaska Highway. In just nine months, more than 10,000 members of the Army Corps of Engineers completed over 1,500 miles of roadway, a pace no doubt motivated by a healthy dose of competition. Take the 95th Regiment: an under-equipped unit of Black engineers who staked their paychecks on a bet with their white counterparts that they could finish a bridge in five days. It only took them three and a half, and not because of slapdash workmanship—the Sikanni Chief River Bridge was the first permanent structure on the highway and stood for half a century before arson destroyed it in 1992.

On the way to…

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