- GPS tracking company Geotab used data from the US Department of Transportation to find the least used road in each state.
- From that list, landscape photographer James Q. Martin ranked the 10 most scenic routes based on subjective criteria.
- Martin’s picks span both coasts and reach as far up as Alaska.
Most travel guides make recommendations based on the idea that the more often a place is visited, the more reason a tourist has to visit it. But the GPS tracking company Geotab and landscape photographer James Q. Martin have taken the opposite approach with their list of America’s 10 most scenic, quiet routes. To make the list, Geotab began by using the most recent available data from the US Department of Transportation’s Highway Performance Monitoring System, which tracks the number of cars that drive on highways each day.
Once Geotab found the road in each state with the least amount of average, daily traffic, it enlisted Martin to rank the 10 most scenic routes based on subjective criteria. Martin’s picks span both coasts and reach as far up as Alaska.
Here are Martin’s 10 most scenic, quiet routes, and the reasons he picked them.
10. Pennsylvania — State Route 32
Route Length: 41 miles
“Known as the River Road, this scenic drive follows the Delaware River as it runs alongside the New Jersey border,” Martin told Geotab. “Historic stops along the way include the Washington River Crossing and the arts and crafts town of New Hope.”
9. New Hampshire — US Route 2
Route Length: 35 miles
“The long version of this scenic drive passes through several states,” Martin said. “Here it winds alongside the Androscoggin River into the picturesque mountain ranges of New Hampshire. A detour takes you into the White Mountains National Forest and passes by the prominent Mount Washington.”
8. Wyoming — US Route 212
Route Length: 35 miles
“The Beartooth Highway is Wyoming’s highest route,” Martin said. “It leads into Yellowstone National Park, and has incredible views of jagged mountains, pine forests, rocky peaks and alpine lakes. During the winter, the road is closed due to heavy snow, but usually opens back up by Memorial Day weekend.”
7. Louisiana — US Route 65
Route Length: 101 miles
“This stretch of highway is part of the Great River Road,” Martin said. “The Louisiana section of this scenic, state-crossing drive, tracks alongside the Mississippi River, into Arkansas and beyond; passing the strikingly clear waters of Lake Bruin along the way.”
6. Virginia — State Route 90003
Route Length: 23 miles
“Better known as the Colonial Parkway, this nationally historic, scenic byway is bordered by trees and dotted with colonial-style red brick bridges and tunnels,” Martin said. “Make a stop at the James River and York River at each end for the panoramic views, especially in the fall.”
5. California — State Route 139
Route Length: 143 miles
“This remote route skirts around the beautiful blue Eagle Lake, before cutting through the Modoc National Forest,” Martin said. “It’s a great starting point for hikes around the rugged volcanic landscape of north eastern California.”
4. Arizona — US Route 160
Route Length: 256 miles
“This isolated route runs through the deserted Navajo Nation,” Martin said. “These ’empty stretches of highway are surrounded by sandy brush land, wind-worn sandstone canyons, an ancient Pueblo cliff village and unusual rock formations like the Elephant’s Feet, making this an incredibly scenic drive.”
3. Maine — US Route 201
Route Length: 157 miles
“‘Old Canada Road’ is a rural, tree-lined route following the Kennebec River through historic towns like Bingham, passing Wyman Lake all the way up to the Quebec border. It’s at its colourful best during the fall,” Martin said.
2. Utah — US Route 50
Route Length: 335 miles
“This entire 3,000 mile route is dubbed ‘America’s Loneliest Road.’ Route 50’s path cuts across the corner of Utah, passing by the Canyonlands National Park, the Arches National Park and through the vast emptiness of the Great Salt Lake Desert,” Martin said.
1. Alaska — State Route 11
Route Length: 414 miles
“I chose Alaska’s Dalton Highway as my favourite, as it’s a road that reaches the top of the continent, and would literally allow you to see a polar bear in the right circumstances,” Martin said.
“The Dalton Highway is one of America’s harshest and most remote routes. We’re talking 240 miles between services and only a handful of small towns along the way. It’s mostly the ‘ice road truckers’ who make the difficult journey along this gravel highway, travelling through Alaska’s boreal forests, across its vast mountain ranges, over the Yukon River, all the way to the Arctic Ocean.”