5 of the Most Classic West Coast Drives
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking the ultimate road trip, the western coast of the United States has some of the most scenic beauty the country has to offer. From the North to the South, you can soak in majestic mountains and pristine coastlines or take in some of the history of the area. The only problem you may encounter is in determining which route to trek. Here are a few suggestions for the ride.
1. The Pacific Coast Highway
Stretching 123 miles along the central coast of California, the Pacific Coast Highway is routinely voted as the most beautiful drive in the country. The Highway starts just south of San Jose in a town called Monterey. Be sure to visit the nearby town of Carmel which has shopping, historic buildings, and restaurants.
If you keep traveling north, you’ll arrive in Big Sur, which is where the mountains meet the sea — this is simply a stunning scene. Keep traveling and you’ll hit the other scenic points, including the much-photographed Bixby Bridge, before you finally arrive in Morro Bay.
2. Route 66
Beginning along the Arizona-California border, the final stretch of Route 66 takes you through some of the more barren stretches of the famed road, but provides you with some interesting scenery. The first two stops from the Arizona border are the towns of Needles and Barstow, which are now in heavy decline, but worth checking out if you’re a photographer.
Past Barstow, you’ll finally start to emerge from the Mojave Desert towards Victorsville, Pasadena, and then finally, Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. Ultimately, you’ll see a dramatic change of scenery and people in a short distance.
3. The 405
Perhaps the busiest and most traveled stretch of Interstate, the San Diego Freeway, or the 405, links the northern and southern parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
While the drive isn’t nearly as scenic or historic as some of the other options in the West, it has its place, particularly in music culture. So, the next time you hear Tupac talking about the 405, you’ll know exactly what he means.
4. Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway
This stretch of road lies on the east side of the Sierra-Nevada mountain range, from the Nevada border headed north. Bordered on the west by Yosemite National Park and featuring 23 points of interest along the 250 mile byway, there’s no shortage of amazing scenery. You can also stop in the Alabama Hills, where many Westerns were filmed in the 1950s and 1960s.
5. Avenue of the Giants
If you’ve ever wanted to see Giant Redwood trees up close, the Avenue of the Giants is the perfect journey. The road, which goes through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, is just a 20-mile drive through the massive Redwood forests. Along the way, be sure to stop and take one of the many hikes to stretch your legs. There is also a visitor’s center for you to learn more about the local ecosystem or find out about other features the park has to offer.
No matter which course of travel you take on the west coast, make sure you take one of these scenic drives. Because of heavy traffic and long stretches of road, however, you may want to look at some reliable used cars for the journey. Once you have your vehicle, you’ll have one of the best road trips ever.