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Epic U.S. Road Trip Ideas

By Kellie Hillis

The Powerball just crept over $600 million before two lucky winners split the jackpot. I know those two winners already spent most of the money before their numbers were even called. Everyone has their lottery contingency planned out years in advance. I do. You do. We all do. Every time 0s get added to the pot, we all take a few minutes to dream about what we’d do with all that cash if we hit it big.

In my case, the answer is simple: I would buy a nice (but not extreme) camper van, and I’d hit the open road. Some people talk about all the mansions they’d purchase, the cars they’d flaunt, the yachts they’d sail – but not me. I’d build a transport van and start seeing some stuff.

$300 million is a lot of gas money.

I’ve also already planned my road trips, and I’m going to share them with you today. Some are more region-specific, and others are about putting down some miles. Incredible landscapes center all of them. Here are 5 epic road trip ideas if you hit big and have nothing but money and time to spend traveling this beautiful country of ours.

U.S. Highway 1 / 101 

If you’re not familiar with Highway 1, you’re missing out. Go Google it now. Probably one of the most scenic highways in the entire world, it starts all the way down at the border of Mexico and hugs the California coast for hundreds of miles. A little north of San Francisco, it turns into highway 101, which keeps going all the way to Seattle. It meanders through Big Sur, Monterey, and hundreds of other incredible seaside vistas. The views are spectacular. You can even take a quick detour through the Redwood Forest if you want. You could spend tons of time driving this highway and never run out of gorgeous things to see.

The Old-Fashioned, Cross-Country Extravaganza 

A rite-of-passage for any camper-owning family, the cross-country extravaganza is a must. Start somewhere on the east or west coast, and start driving to the other side of the country. Start in Atlanta; end in Los Angeles. Start in Portland; end in New York. The choice is yours! Spend some time on Route 66, stop by Graceland, and finish the trip on Broadway. This route is all about miles, miles, and more miles.

East Coast Dreaming 

Even though the left coast gets most of the attention, the right coast deserves some love too. You can start all the way down in Key West and see some of the powderiest beaches anywhere. Even though Florida gets a ton of flak – Florida man is a real thing – the rest of the world usually only knows three places in the USA: New York, Los Angeles, and Florida. Start in the South, head north through the Appalachians, take a detour through some big cities in New England, and end in Acadia National Park in Maine.

Utah Rocks 

Not every road trip needs to be cross-country. In fact, one of the coolest road trips you can take is just in a single state: Utah! This incredible place boasts some of the wildest and beautiful landscapes you can imagine. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park live about an hour away from one another. Arches and Canyonlands are even closer. Moab is a gem. Salt Lake CIty is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and Goblin State Park is like an alien world. You can spend as much time as you want in Utah and still not see everything. I love Utah!

Sierras, Rockies, Cascades, Oh My! 

Our last road trip is going to take us in a giant loop, and we’ll see some towering mountains, dramatic valleys, wondrous waterfalls, and pristine lakes. We’ll start in California – Palm Springs to be exact – and we’ll head north. Take 395 through Lone Pine and marvel at Mount Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the contiguous USA. We’ll pass by Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Crater Lake. We’ll keep heading north into Washington and stop by Mount Rainier and Mount Hood. We’ll start heading east through Idaho and Montana. Then we’ll head South again by Bozeman and pass through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Keep heading South through the Rockies. We’ll complete the circle by heading west in New Mexico, getting dusty in the desert. This route will take you through the tallest, most spectacular mountain ranges in the upper 48.

This list is not at all exhaustive, so don’t be sad if I left off some of your favorite spots. North and South Dakota are overlooked but awesome. The Devil’s Tower in Wyoming is a place I can’t wait to visit. I’d love to camp in the Ozarks and stargaze in the Mojave Desert. The best part about a road trip is the freedom you have on the road, and these 5 ideas will be a great jumping off point to make the jaunt your own.

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