Paper Names River Road 170 One of America’s 10 Most Scenic Drives

Rivers make natural travel routes, and drivers can find great scenery by following their path through the countryside, says Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com. “There are famous majestic rivers, and these have become iconic destinations throughout the United States,” she says. Some routes are designated as scenic byways by states or the federal government, making it easy to stay on course. Banas shares favorite waterside roads with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Mad River Scenic Byway
Vermont
Perhaps there’s no more quintessential Vermont drive than this route, which runs by Green Mountain National Forest, passes covered bridges and weaves through small towns with steepled churches. “It’s more like a country road than a highway, so go slow and stop often to take pictures,” Banas says. madrivervalley.com

Great River Road National Scenic Byway
Minnesota through Louisiana
The nation’s longest scenic byway follows the Mississippi River through 10 states as it winds from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. “Some people might see this as a bucket-list item, and you don’t have to do the whole thing at once,” Banas says. “But if you make it the whole way, your reward is a party in New Orleans.” experiencemississippiriver.com

Hudson River Valley
New York
Starting at the Tappan Zee Bridge, just 25 miles from Manhattan, and heading north, this Empire State drive is rich in scenery and heritage. Travelers can visit places like Sleepy Hollow and West Point, and continue into upstate New York, passing landscapes that inspired an entire school of painting. “It’s American history from the 1700s on,” Banas says. iloveny.com

Historic Columbia River Highway
Oregon
This 75-mile highway following the Columbia River is a marvel of engineering with hairpin turns and perfectly situated overlooks. Drivers pass mountain scenery, waterfalls and rushing rapids. “It’s absolutely stunning. It’s the first planned scenic highway in the U.S. and a national historic landmark” Banas says. traveloregon.com

Colorado River Headwaters Byway
Colorado
Starting in Rocky Mountain National Park, this 80-mile highway follows the Colorado River from its source. It starts as a mountain stream near the old resort town of Grand Lake and picks up steam as it tumbles along. “You want to take it slowly so you can stop for hiking and whitewater rafting,” Banas says. “And I recommend relaxing in the natural mineral baths in the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. You can do it post-hike.” colorado.com

Seward Highway
Alaska
For 127 miles, this highway south of Anchorage, hugs an ocean inlet, passes through national forest, and skirts by creeks, lakes and rivers. “It’s epic. You’re passing through these snowcapped mountains. I saw bald eagles and waterscapes at every angle. The waters are so still and so clear, they are reflecting the mountain peaks.” travelalaska.com

El Camino del Rio (River Road)
Texas
This two lane road, technically Texas Farm-to-Market Route 170, twists, dips and dives through desert mountains and canyons along the Rio Grande in Far West Texas. The river runs from the towns of Lajitas to Presidio, near Big Bend Ranch State Park. One grade, called simply the “Big Hill” is one of the steepest highway slopes in the state. visitbigbend.com

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