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10 of the most beautiful scenic drives through national parks

10 of the most beautiful scenic drives through national parks

June 26, 2020

In the US, there are 419 national parks that cover more than 84 million acres, and one way to experience them is by road tripping. 

Each national park has roads that you can easily drive down to experience the beauty of nature. But there are some roads in the national parks that are more scenic than the rest. 

Here are the top 10 most beautiful roads you should take through the national parks this summer.

Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park has a scenic landscape around every turn.

Tioga Road is a tricky drive because it's always a guess as to when it will open for the season. Every winter, snow piles itself on the high road, making it difficult to plow each spring. Sometimes the road opens in May and other years, it opens in late June. But when the road does open, you'll get spectacular views of meadows, lakes, and peaks. 

Going-to-the-Sun Road is a great way to see the wildlife up close in the Glacier National Park in Montana.

At its highest point, Going-to-the-Sun Road is 6,646 feet, and it will take you two hours to drive the entire 50 miles through the majestic Glacier National Park. Along the way, you can spot mountain goats and bighorn sheep. But the Jackson Glacier Overlook, which is just off the road, has the best views of a glacier. 

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming offers spectacular views of water and mountains.

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive is a small road that will only take 15 to 30 minutes to drive through. The road follows the east shore of Jenny Lake, which was formed 12,000 years ago. Along the road, you'll also be greeted by views of the mountains. 

Summit Road on Cadillac Mountain in Maine's Acadia National Park is the perfect place to watch the sunrise.

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is 1,530 feet, making it the highest peak on the North Atlantic coast. From October 7 through March 6, the mountain becomes especially popular because it is the first place to see the sunrise in the US. To get to the top, you have to take Summit Road, which is scenic in itself. Along the way, you can stop at several observation points to take in the national park. 

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, is the highest paved road in the US.

Trail Ridge Road — also known as US 34 — is 12,183 feet above the ground, making it the highest paved road in the country. The 48-mile-long road gives spectacular views of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.

Kolob Canyons Road in Zion National Park, Utah, is a great way to see the crimson canyons.

Kolob Canyons Road is 5 miles long and will take you through some of the best landscapes of the Zion National Park. The canyons in this area are known for their sweeping heights and 2,000-foot cliffs. The National Park Service says this road is a great place to find hiking trails and to have have a multi-day trip into the canyons. 

Rim Drive in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, was designed to follow the shape of the landscape.

When driving down the 33-mile Rim Drive, you will pass lakes, forests, and meadows. The road was constructed to give drivers the best panoramic views possible. In fact, the National Park Service writes, "The contours of the road were designed to complement the natural landscape, and disappear from view as you look across the lake from any point." 

Skyline Drive is the best way to experience all of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Skyline Drive is 105 miles long and takes you straight through the scenic landscapes of Shenandoah. Along the way, you can see Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, black bears, wild turkeys, azaleas, and goldenrod.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a narrow road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is so narrow that it only has enough space for cars — no trucks or trailers — to experience the scenic, 6-mile route. Along the road, you can stop to see several waterfalls, hiking trails, and historic buildings in the park. 

Geology Tour Road in Joshua Tree National Park, California, offers incredible views of an unusual landscape.

The Geology Tour Road is 18 miles long through Joshua Tree National Park. Along the way, you can stop at 16 designated areas that celebrate the unique, arid landscape of the desert, so it will take you about two hours to make a round trip, according to the National Park Service.

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