Top 5 American drives for your bucket list

Exploring America’s natural treasures on the road

Home road Top 5 American drives for your bucket list
Top 5 American drives for your bucket list

The United States offers some of the most diverse natural landscapes in the world, what with its 3.8 million square mile land mass (9.8 million km2) in between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, encompassing some 50 states, 5 territories and many iconic mountain ranges, deserts, swamps, lakes, glaciers, islands and coastlines.  It’s the perfect terrain for a driving adventure this summer, from the quintessential American outback to its coastal routes. So , here is a sampler of some of the finest drives you can experience in the US of A! Of course, before any road trip, especially on challenging terrain or environments, we encourage you to check your tires are in good condition and the appropriate type for your adventure. Once you’re all set, roll down the windows and get the camera ready!

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Monument Valley – Visit Arizona

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Monument Valley – Visit Arizona

Monument Valley, Utah / Arizona
Monument Valley is truly a feast for the senses – a vivid red sand desert with towering sandstone buttes, shrubs and rocks that stretch out for miles. It’s not hard to see why Monument Valley has been used as the backdrop for many Western films, as it evokes that classic ‘American West’ scenery. Lying within the Navajo Nation reservation on the border of Utah and Arizona, Monument Valley is accessible from US Highway 163. Drivers can go through the Monument Valley Najavo Tribal Park after paying a fee to experience the stunning vistas, which is approximately a two to three hour drive on a 17 mile dirt road.

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Zion and Bonneville Salt flat pictures– Visit Utah

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Zion and Bonneville Salt flat pictures – Visit Utah

Zion National Park, Utah 
Driving through Zion National Park is another American ‘must see’ and upon first glance, is like a trip to Mars: a surreal landscape of beautiful pink, red and white layered rock formations. Located in Southwest Utah, the park intersects between the Colorado Plateaus, the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert. Not surprisingly, this gives rise to plenty of biodiversity and wildlife – 289 species to be exact! Mountain goats, lions and deer are common sights along the road and trails in this area.
Zion National Park has two sections open for vehicles: the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway and Kolob Terrace Road. Various hiking trails are accessible once inside the national park such as the famous Angel’s Landing or Emerald Pools landmarks, so you can tread the same paths as ancient natives and pioneers. Zion is a four hour drive from Salt Lake City Airport or three hours from Las Vegas. 

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Zion and Bonneville Salt flat pictures – Visit Utah

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Zion and Bonneville Salt flat pictures – Visit Utah

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah 
Another mind-blowing, alienesque type vista to take in is the Bonneville Salt Flats, located on the I-80 near the Utah-Nevada border. It’s a 30,000 acre desert like no other – totally flat, barren and dazzling white – that looks like a frozen lake bed but is actually just a thick layer of salty soil. The Salt Flats were formed when ancient Lake Bonneville dried up and as a result of the water evaporation; salt deposits were left in many areas. The flats can be seen as you drive along the I-80 between Salt Lake City and Wendover, Nevada. The best vantage point is 10 miles east of Wendover on the 1-80, where a rest stop has been established. The famous Bonneville Speedway is located near the western part of Wendover, and worth a pit-stop as well for motorsport enthusiasts!

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Big Sur tent image – Visit California, Chris Leschinsky

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Big Sur bridge image – Visit California, Blaise

Big Sur, California
Now, it’s time to move away from America’s inland treasures to the West Coast and specifically, Big Sur: one of the most memorable coastlines on the planet. Big Sur is known as the rugged 90 mile stretch between Monterey, San Simeon and Carmel along the Pacific Highway. It’s an epic drive full of twisty turns and dramatic cliff drops, flanked by 5000 foot tall mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Consequently, the Big Sur area has developed a mythic reputation over the years, providing much inspiration for artists, including Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and Henry Miller. It’s a popular summer driving route for tourists, offering plenty of hikes off the road to see the magic wilderness and simply ‘do nothing’, which is Big Sur’s catchphrase and with all the multitude of wildlife and peaceful environment to soak in, is entirely fitting. As Henry Miller said, “it’s here in Big Sur that I first learned to say Amen”.

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Florida Keys photos – Visit Florida

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Florida Keys photos – Visit Florida

Key West, Florida
And on the other side of the US, another memorable water-drive awaits. Key West is part of the famous Florida Keys archipelago, a network of islands immortalized in part by the Beach Boys ‘Kokomo’ song for the ‘Key Largo’ reference (an island in the upper Florida Keys archipelago). The entire Florida Keys represents everything the tune brings to mind: crystal clear blue waters, white sand, tropical holidays. Starting from Miami, the drive to Key West is over a network of bridges akin to tightrope – entirely suspended over the water for 110 miles – which is why it’s called the Overseas Highway. The journey takes 4 hours, so there’s plenty of time to absorb the 40+ islands you’ll see on the way. Once in Key West, the southernmost point of Florida, you can enjoy the diving offshore or historic town favored by Ernest Hemingway with its pastel-hued conch style houses (including the Ernest Hemingway House Museum itself). 

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