While the Pacific Coast Highway gets most of the accolades for the coolest road trip on the west coast (and deservedly so), there are many others that can be just as exciting – and less crowded. Other states out west are overflowing with scenic natural beauty, and if you’re willing to step outside the grid you can experience some memorable adventures and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Here are seven that are well worth your consideration.
Nomads With a Purpose recommends visiting Utah in the summer if you want to hike, but you can really go any time of the year except for April and May when the trails are too muddy. They start out with hiking and mountain biking in Park City, followed by camping, hiking and rock climbing in Maple Canyon. St. George is home to Snow Canyon, a stunning desert landscape with white and orange striped sandstone cliffs. Zion National Park is the can’t-miss on this trip, called a “magical place” and easy to explore. Bryce Canyon is known for its Fairyland Loop trail; other stops in Utah include Grand Escalante Staircase and Park City.
The Alaskan Highway
Conde Nast Traveler raves about this 1,390-mile route that stretches from Seattle to Anchorage. You can stop in Vancouver to check out Stanley Park and see moose and the many small towns and roadhouses on the way. The best places to stay are the Northern Lights Resort and Spa in the Yokun, Summit Lake Lods by Moose Pass and Whitehorse in Yukon Territory.
Cascade Loop, Washington State
This 400-mile long trip also begins in Seattle, and you can head north to Anacortes via the North Cascade Scenic Byway. Planetware explains that this road is open from May to November, and offers amazing landscapes, Diablo Lake and the town of Methow Valley. Heading south, you can visit small towns like Wenatchee, Cashmere and Leavenworth. As you head back towards Seattle, you’ll find many place to go white water rafting, hiking and skiing.
Yosemite to Death Valley
This road trip explores eastern California, starting in majestic Yosemite state park. Visit the centuries-old Sequoia trees, the 3,000-foot tall El Capitan and the incredible waterfalls. You can cover much of the park in two days; hire a guide to take you to the best spots. You can stay at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel and have a fancy dinner there; there are a few less expensive hotels restaurants a bit further out. From there, drive to Death Valley Park by taking the Death Valley Scenic Byway.
This coastal road trip goes from Astoria to Brookings, is more than 360 miles long and is full of free attractions; this is why it’s called the “People’s Coast.” The best stops are Cannon Beach, Samuel H. Boardman State Scene Border, Three Capes Scenic Drive and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Columbia River Highway
Also in Oregon, this easy 75-mile road trip is “jam-packed with scenery,” according to Conde Nast Traveler. You’ll see lush greenery, moss-covered bridges and giant waterfalls (don’t miss Multnomah Falls and Oneonta Falls). You can visit wineries at Hood River and Hiyu Wine Farm and start and end your trip in Portland at the Ace Hotel or The Hoxton
Napa to Sonoma, CA
Continuing on the wine theme, a road trip that combines the two best wine regions in California is a sure winner. You can start in Napa Valley, tour the caves and visit the high-end wineries and restaurants. From there, it’s an hour drive to Sonoma via CA-128 and CA-12 .The Sonoma Valley wineries are more low key, and you’ll see beautiful scenery along the way and in both regions.