search Buscar

    California Roads: Road Trip on the most exhilarating scenic byways

    Who I am
    Lluis Enric Mayans

    Item Feedback:

    content warning

    It is undeniable that the roads of California exert a particular charm, capable of attracting visitors from all over the world. It is no coincidence that visiting the Golden State always goes hand in hand with the decision to rent a car to whiz around in style on the road along the state's fascinating Highways and Interstates.

    Why the idea of ​​the road trip in California fascinates so much? What is it that makes it so irresistible? Well, perhaps the answer is to be found precisely in the same Californian roads, the legendary ones scenic byways on which much of the modern American myth has been built. You are ready? Fasten your seatbelts. It's time to find out what the California's best scenic drives.


    • Death Valley Scenic Drive: on the road nel deserto
    • Tioga Road: Across the Yosemite Heights
    • Highway 1: Big Sur's scenic cliffs
    • Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway: the volcanic landscape of the North
    • The golden hills of California: from Monterey to Yosemite.
    • Silverado Trail: through the Napa Valley wine region
    • Other California scenic drives

    Death Valley Scenic Drive: on the road nel deserto

    • Length: 131,2 km
    • Journey time: 2 hours for the guide but also 4 hours to enjoy it calmly
    • Fee: You will have to pay the entrance to Death Valley National Park

    Over 3,3 million acres of spectacular landscapes, characterized by immense and astonishing desert landscapes. You will travel through hills and sand dunes, unlikely rock conformations, historical sites, dried up lakes and landscapes that will give you the illusion of having landed on another planet. Before you leave, take a look at our tips on how to visit Death Valley.

    How to follow it: attach the scenic drive at the park's East entrance, approximately 13 miles west of Death Valley Junction, on Highway 190. Continue north, past Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, where the road turns southwest. Pass Panamint Valley and Father Crowley Point and finish your scenic drive at the park's west edge.

    Tioga Road: Across the Yosemite Heights

    • Length: 103 km
    • Journey time: from 90 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the stops and places you visit along the way
    • Fee: You will have to pay to get access to Yosemite park

    The road that crosses Yosemite National Park, a park that is a must see on any self-respecting California tour, is one of the most spectacular stretches for those who love high ground and mountain beauty. We talked about it in detail in our article on the Tioga Pass Road, where you can find all the information on how to get there and how to travel it.

    Highway 1: Big Sur's scenic cliffs

    • Length: about 220 km
    • Journey time: about 3 hours
    • Tariff: none

    From San Luis Obispo to Monterey stretches the most scenic road stretch of the Californian coast, which will allow you to enjoy majestic views of the Pacific Ocean. A road that we have talked about extensively on this site and for further information I refer you first to these 2 articles:

    • Big Sur: the thousand wonders of the central coast of California
    • Pacific Coast Highway and Big Sur: the road of the American dream

    For a 3-part itinerary that allows you to cross this scenic route, take a look at our in-depth information on the on-the-road itinerary from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.

    Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway: the volcanic landscape of the North

    • Length: 804,7 km
    • Travel time: take at least 2 days to cover it all, but also 5 to enjoy it calmly
    • Fee: none, but you will have to pay admission to enter the national parks

    If you want to explore the wonder and beauty of an impressive volcanic landscape this is the scenic byway for you. It connects 2 states, California and Oregon, allowing you to explore 2 stunning national parks: Crater Lake and Lassen Volcano Park.

    How to follow it: the indications are quite long, you can find them in detail at this site.

    The golden hills of California: from Monterey to Yosemite.


    • Length: 302 km
    • Journey time: 3 and a half hours but also an extra half hour to make some small stops
    • Tariff: none

    This itinerary is not a real one scenic byway, it is rather a road section that I have personally traveled and that has impressed me with its beauty. For this reason it is inserted "improperly" in this list.

    The panorama you should expect is that of the gentle and rolling golden hills typical of some areas of the interior of the state. The route, starting from Monterey and ending at Yosemite park, is among other things an interesting solution to unify the tour of the coast with a tour of the interior. Find all the information you need to do this little one road trip californiano in the article Monterey Yosemite: traveling in the golden hills of California.

    Silverado Trail: through the Napa Valley wine region

    • Length: 43 km
    • Journey time: about 1 hour
    • Tariff: none

    Another typical California area that cannot be missed on this list is the wine area. Going through the Silverado Trail you will get a taste of what Napa Valley is, arguably the most important wine region in all of the United States. You will find yourself immersed in beautiful expanses of vines and you can stop for a tasting in one of the many wineries in the area.

    How to follow it: The scenic drive starts in Napa and heads north towards Calistoga. To reach the Napa Valley from San Francisco, head North (I-80 / CA-123), take Exit 33 (CA-37 West) and then Exit 19 (CA-29). After 7 miles turn right (CA-221 North) and after 2,5 miles you will find Silverado Trail on the right.

    Other California scenic drives

    The possible road trip in California they are practically infinite: some of the most beautiful scenic roads in the United States are in fact found here, and in many cases they can be combined with each other to create fascinating personalized itineraries. Here are some other particularly interesting ones:

    • Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway: glacial valleys, canyons, ancient volcanic peaks and granite ridges.
    • Redwood Highway: the giant sequoias of Redwood National Park, in Northern California.
    • Joshua Tree Journey: a journey through the surreal desert of Joshua Tree National Park
    • Route 66: more than a panoramic road it is a piece of history. No one can escape the charm of Historic Route 66! The whole itinerary of the state can be found in our article Route 66 California.
    • Kings Canyon Scenic Byway: the beautiful scenic drive through Kings Canyon National Park
    • Lake Tahoe National Scenic Byway: the road that allows you to go around the suggestive Lake Tahoe.
    • 17 Mile Drive: a scenic drive that covers the Monterey Peninsula, a small area full of striking views, including Carmel, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. For more info take a look at our article on what to see in Monterey.

    As you may have guessed, visit the California on the road it practically means being able to choose from an impressive array of possibilities. The natural landscapes change radically, transforming a road trip into a continuous succession of different and contrasting scenarios. The streets of California have so much to tell for those who want to explore them with eyes wide open.

    add a comment of California Roads: Road Trip on the most exhilarating scenic byways
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.