American Roadtrip is about the golden era of interstate travel. In celebration of that, American Roadtrip has put together a top five list of what we feel are the coolest roads in America.
Beginning with #5 we have US Route 1.
US Route 1 extends 2,450 miles down the United States’ east coast from Fort Kent Maine to Miami Florida. This road serves as the street address for the Bronx Zoo, Okefenokee Swamp, and even the FBI headquarters. This road started as a foot trail and then a wagon trail and today is the busiest highway of any highway in the world of equal length. George Washington even moved troops on this road. “As early as 1636 efforts were made to facilitate travel over the general line of the present route. At first these were limited to the blazing of trees to mark the way, the building of crude bridges over the deeper ravines, the locating of fords over shallow streams and the establishment of canoe ferries across the wider rivers.”
The #4 coolest road in America is Rte. 66 – also known as the Will Rogers Highway, Main Street of America and The Mother Road.
How many other roads can you come across a Blue Whale, a Big Texan, and a Cadillac Ranch? Route 66 was one of the original highways in the United States, being established in the 1920’s. This road connecting Chicago with Santa Monica, CA covers over 2,400 miles. In the 1930’s it was traveled by those heading west due to the Dust Bowl. In the 1950’s it helped support the golden era of travel as Americans took to the road to explore this vast nation.
Route 66 today is only a skeleton of what it once was. During its peak, business like the Cozy Dog Inn prospered as it catered to travelers. Road side attractions popped up throughout the route such as the previously mentioned. However, many business and communities have not been able to survive the arrivals of the Interstate System.
At #3 of the coolest roads in America we have US-550 known as The Million Dollar Highway in Western Colorado.
Known as one of the nations most scenic drives, US-550, the Million Dollar Highway, is not for the faint of heart. It weaves through the peaks and canyons of the San Juan Mountains in western Colorado. The road majestically hugs the walls of mountains the reach over 13,000 feet while regularly only (sometimes) a guard rail protects an errant driver from a vertical drop of over a thousand feet. At times the road is narrow, where the shoulder is a thousand foot drop, and the elevation can climb to over 11,000 feet.
The road first appeared in the early 1880’s as a toll road blazed by Otto Mears, a mail carrier working between Silverton and Telluride. Today, this 87-mile stretch of scenic highway connects Durango and Ridgway. The route was eventually paved in 1930’s and some say the cost to pave the road was a million dollars, leading to the name. Others say the name derives from travelers not willing to navigate the route due to its steepness, “not even for a million dollars.” Still others argue that the million dollars refers to the mining history, which is observable throughout the drive, that made and sometimes lost miners a million dollars.
Continuing the countdown to the #2 coolest road in America is the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy. 1) also known as the PCH to those on the west coast.
Highway One is known for its scenic 139mile coastal drive from Monterey to Morro Bay, but actually stretches from Baja all the way to the Olympic Peninsula.
Construction began in 1919. Over 10million cubic yards of rock were blown up by dynamite. Prisoners were used for labor, receiving 35 cents a day and reduced sentences for their work. Locals, such as famed Grapes of Wrath’s author John Steinbeck, also contributed to the efforts. Thirty-three bridges help travelers navigate the highway, including the famed Bixby Rainbow Bridge.
And American Roadtrip’s #1 coolest road in america honor goes to Lombard Street in San Francisco.
This San Francisco cobblestone street once had a grade of 27%, making it too steep for cars. In 1922, the grade was cut down to 16% and a switchback road was installed. The road now contains 8 switchbacks and 250 steps on either side of the one block.
The street was originally a two-way street until 1939 when the road was limited to one-way. The road quickly became a tourist destination after a photograph of the road with its hydrangeas in bloom appeared in the paper in the 1950’s.
That’s American Roadtrip’s top five list of the coolest roads in America. If yours didn’t make the list let us know what it is. Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/americanroadtrip