On the Road is a beautiful book by the American writer Jack Kerouac, published in August 1957. Kerouac made several journeys through the United States between 1947 and 1950 and wrote about this in an inimitable way. Note: it is a cult novel, certainly not a travel book. If you want to purchase the Bible for American road trips, it would be a good idea to ignore On the Road. I recommend Jamie Jensen’s book Road Trips USA. He describes the eleven most beautiful routes on historic, authentic two-lane roads. This article describes those eleven car trips. Anyone who has rent a car 24 hour drive can rightly say that he has seen America.
Highway 1: from Seattle to San Diego, California
A beautiful trip along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, from the forests of Washington to the beautiful beaches of California. The well-known Highway 1 is a major tourist attraction. You start in the most northwestern point of the United States, at Olympic National Park, unique for its temperate rainforests. Then you follow the coastline to the Mexican border, a route of just over 2400 kilometers. You drive through areas that look like deserts, through densely forested areas in northern California, through almost untouched Oregon, through places that seem to be inhabited only by hip surf dudes and tight beach babes, and through beautiful cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Highway 93: from the Rockie Mountains to the Mexican border
America is the land of extremes and great contrasts. Drive south on Highway 93 and you will pass all the diverse natural beauty, with the first half being completely different from the second part. Start in the Rockie Mountains (or more northerly, from Canada) and finish all the way to the Mexican border, past the city of Tucson in Arizona. Rugged landscapes, large mountains, deep valleys, wild rivers, deserts, and Indian reserves – you will find them all in this pristine wilderness.
US Route 83: the Road to Nowhere
Drive this road from north to south and you are on the first paved road from Canada to Mexico: nowadays it is called US Route 8, also known as ‘The Road to Nowhere’. The route is very varied: from the rolling grasslands of the Great Plains to the enchanting heat of the Oklahoma Panhandle and Texas, via the vast plains of western Nebraska and Kansas. You are away from mass tourism here (you simply will not encounter any noteworthy attraction) and you will notice that in the character of the small villages that you cross; with some imagination, you will be back here and there in the wild west.
Along the Mississipi River to the south
The Old Man River, that is the nickname of the Mississippi River. The Great River Road (GRR) has become a famous tourist attraction over the years: a wonderful road trip from north to south, from Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. Read some books from Mark Twain, and this trip will be on your bucket list. Pass Kansas’s flat prairie, countless historic roadside farms, idyllic mountain pastures, cypress swamps, dense forests, limestone rocks, and dozens of parks and conservation areas. But what fascinates me so much about this trip is the culture. In Hannibal, Missouri you imagine yourself between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn; this is the hometown of Mark Twain. St. Louis and Memphis speak for themselves: fantastic cities.
The Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia
From the forests of Maine all the way to the south to Atlanta, Georgia. The Appalachian Trail is the longest and most famous hiking trail in America. True fanatics walk this route; those who don’t feel like sweating and blistering can take the car for an almost similar experience. Mountains in New England, picturesque landscapes, fascinating cities, and historic sites: this historic road trip has it all. The route does not go through New York City and Washington DC, but taking a trip to these great cities does not mean a huge detour.