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Ten favorite Western scenic drives

Although I could easily list dozens more, the following is a list of ten wonderful scenic drive that are all particular favorites of mine. Group travel coordinators (and even individual vacationers) would be well advised to include in their future trip planning. Please note that these are all routes that are primarily outside of our national parks, so such extraordinary scenic examples as the Tioga Pass Road (Yosemite), and Trail Ridge Road (Rocky Mountain NP) are not included here.

AZ: AZ Highway 89A from AZ 89 (north of Prescott), through historic Jerome, Cottonwood, the magnificent Sedona “Red Rocks” Country and Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff.

CA:  The “Avenue of the Giants” (parallel to U.S. 101) through dense forests of towering coastal redwoods, including Humboldt Redwoods State Park – A bit further south, a good alternative is CA 128 between Cloverdale and the Pacific Coast, which traverses the Mendocino Wine Country and through Navarro River Redwoods State Park.

CO:  CO Highways 62 and 145 (part of the “San Juan Skyway”) from Ridgeway through picturesque Telluride and the awe-inspiring San Juan Mountains to Cortez, which is great during fall foliage season.

ID:  U.S. Highway 12 from Lewiston along the rushing Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers, through Lolo
Pass and on to Missoula, MT, which is another outstanding choice for golden aspens during autumn.

MT:  U.S. 212 (the “Beartooth Scenic Highway”) from Yellowstone National Park, through breathtaking Beartooth Pass, Red Lodge, and on to Billings – Please note that this route is usually open only from late May to mid-October, due to heavy snowfall.

NV:  U.S. 50, (the “Loneliest Road in America”) across the state from the Utah line and Great Basin National Park, through the historic mining towns of Ely, Eureka and Austin, and on to Fallon – desolate yes, but beautiful. Contact my good friend (and one of the nicest fellows on the face of the earth), Ed Spear in Ely at (775) 289-3720 or for further information.

OR:  The “Three Capes Scenic Drive” off of U.S. 101 along the spectacular Oregon coastline between Tillamook and Pacific City – It’s better to do this southbound, so the scenic overlooks will be on the right side of your vehicle.

WA:  WA Highway 20 from Burlington through the heart of North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area and on through the “Old West” town of Winthrop to Twisp – This makes a great combination with the full-day cruise/tour on Lake Chelan to Stehekin or a visit to the Bavarian-style community of Leavenworth.

WY:   U.S. 16 through splendid Ten Sleep Canyon from Buffalo to Worland – This is also the route to take to Thermopolis, home to what is touted as the world’s largest hot springs, located in Hot Springs State Park.

UT:  The entire length of UT Highway 12 from Torrey (just outside Capitol Reef National Park) through incredible mountains, canyons, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and on to Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon to its termination at U.S. 89

Historic Telluride, on Colorado Highway 145 ‘San Juan Skyway’

The ‘Three Capes Scenic Drive’ on the Oregon Coast

Utah Highway 12 Scenic Byway