A road trip in the Great American West – the states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming – is more than just a holiday. It’s an escape from the ordinary; a chance to discover a place unlike anywhere else on earth. A place where vast unspoiled landscapes leave you feeling inspired. Go road tripping by car, campervan or motorcycle on some of the most celebrated scenic byways in the USA for spectacular scenery, unique wildlife and very little traffic. Here are a few of the best to get you started:
The Beartooth Highway has been called ‘the most beautiful drive in America’. This dramatic highway is a 68-mile (110 km’s) National Scenic Byways All-American Road on U.S. Route 212 between Red Lodge and Cooke City that reaches 11,000 feet. This route ribbons through the Absaroka and Beartooth mountain ranges, with numerous scenic pull-outs and views of 20 peaks towering over 12,000 feet. Pull over and explore alpine plateaus, glacier lakes, lush forested valleys and cascading waterfalls. Start or finish your adventure in Red Lodge and enjoy the shops and eateries in the historic downtown. This is one of the most dramatic ways to access Yellowstone Park. Open late May to early October.
The Enchanted Highway is an artist’s dream with one of the world’s largest collections of scrap metal sculptures lining the highway south from Gladstone to Regent and easy to access from the I-94 on the way to and from the main attractions in Bismarck or Medora. The first sculpture is ‘Geese in Flight’ at Exit 72 on I-94, followed by ‘Deer Crossing’, ‘Grasshoppers’ and ‘Fisherman’s Dream’. You will discover more intriguing sculptures as you drive along the highway including ‘Pheasants On The Prairie’, ‘Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again’ and ‘Tin Family’. These unique and eclectic sculptures make this highway a top road tripping destination where you can gain insight into North Dakota’s rich history. Fun for the whole family.
Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway is a famed 70-mile byway in the heart of the Black Hills including Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway. It makes for one of America’s top 10 outstanding byways, offering a breathtaking road trip on either car or motorbike as you pass by towering granite pillars or ‘needles’, through rock tunnels, pine-clad mountains, switchback curves and over wooden pigtail bridges, all along one phenomenal drive. Pass nearby the key iconic attraction of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and through parts of Custer State Park where 1, 300 magnificent bison wander along with pronghorn deer, elk mountain goats and burros. Despite these awesome natural attractions, this byway has very little traffic, allowing you to stop and admire the unique scenery.
Cody to Yellowstone
For a road trip to remember in summer and autumn, drive the 47-mile Chief Joseph Highway (Wyoming Highway 296) from Cody to the Northeast Gate of the not-to-be-missed Yellowstone National Park. Dead Indian Pass is 2, 460 metres above sea level, offering spectacular views of mountains and alpine meadows. The route crosses the Shoshone National Forest through the Absaroka Mountains to the Clarks Fork Valley and links with the Beartooth Highway at Cooke City.
Another spectacular scenic drive option is Cody to the East Entrance of Yellowstone via the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway.
Sawtooth Scenic Byway
One of the best drives in Idaho is Sawtooth Scenic Byway on Idaho 75-N. Stop in Ketchum to see Ernest Hemingway’s grave or visit Sun Valley Resort, which is a historic and popular scenic mountain resort in summer, offering mountain biking, hiking and gorgeous scenic views. And in winter, it has over 2,000 acres of ski terrain for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. The most iconic scenery along this byway includes the Red Fish Lake and Stanley areas, which are part of the International Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve! Stanley sits at the edge of the acclaimed Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which provides thousands of acres of non-motorised public land for all to enjoy.