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Author Topic: The best drives no one knows about  (Read 15134 times)

wphiii

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The best drives no one knows about
« on: May 01, 2013, 01:47:23 PM »

A couple of weekends ago, I made a little getaway trip down to Richmond for a few days. On my way down, I decided to experiment with a route that I had never taken before. This was PA 160, which I took between Berlin, PA near Somerset, to the PA/MD border (and on to Cumberland on MD roads). The hilly, two-lane drive ended up being so thoroughly enjoyable, with its rural ambience and constantly-visible windmills (some of which you even get pretty close to), that I was almost dismayed not to have known about it sooner.

This experience got me thinking...there have to be hundreds of drives like this out there that are largely unknown to the general traveling public, and I'd love to know about some of them, if only for my own future trip-planning edification. Of course, who better to ask about such a thing than a forum like this one?

I don't want to attach too stringent a set of rules to something like this, because everyone has their own ideas about what makes a drive "enjoyable" and I really want to know what's out there, but I guess it does make sense to say that by definition Interstates or major U.S. routes shouldn't count, and nor should well-advertised scenic routes, i.e. the Blue Ridge Parkway, the PCH, etc. But other than that, I am extremely curious as to what you all have discovered over your own travels. So, fire away.

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2013, 01:58:11 PM »

US-30 in Nebraska. 
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 02:38:56 PM »

The South Dakota portion of the Heartland Expressway (SD-79), with the Black Hills off to your west, is very underrated as a drive. Especially for a new four-lane highway.

Just don't take it in winter, of course.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2013, 02:45:00 PM »

While everyone knows about the part of CA 1 south of San Francisco, the part to the north is really underrated.
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corco

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2013, 03:02:17 PM »

Colorado 141- everybody gets caught up in US 191 (Moab) and US 550 (better marketing), but 141 is amazing. I drove it during the height of summer last year on a beautiful day and had sixty miles of breathtaking scenery all to myself.

Washington 129/Oregon 3. It doesn't connect anything to anything but holy shit is it scenic. Absolutely magnificent view.


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US-30 in Nebraska.

I'll see your US-30 in Nebraska and raise you an N-2 across Nebraska
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 03:06:56 PM by corco »
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wphiii

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2013, 03:07:03 PM »

Colorado 141- everybody gets caught up in US 191 (Moab) and US 550 (better marketing), but 141 is amazing. I drove it during the height of summer last year on a beautiful day and had sixty miles of breathtaking scenery all to myself.

Was it you who made a post about this very road recently? Because that was another thing that inspired me to create this thread...I saw someone mention CO 141 on this board and, having never heard of it before, did some research and was blown away by how awesome it looked.

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2013, 03:14:04 PM »

US-30 in Nebraska. 

I took this on a Greyhound.  Felt like it would never end.

the road from Montrose CO to Moab Utah is really nice. 
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corco

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2013, 03:16:09 PM »

Quote
Was it you who made a post about this very road recently? Because that was another thing that inspired me to create this thread...I saw someone mention CO 141 on this board and, having never heard of it before, did some research and was blown away by how awesome it looked.

Yes- I took it on a whim back last July with no idea what to expect and nearly fell over- not only at the scenery but the sheer lack of cars relative to the scenery. I'd been on US 50 all day passing seriously hundreds of RVs and not a single one was to be found on 141.

oscar

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2013, 03:28:36 PM »

Colorado 141- everybody gets caught up in US 191 (Moab) and US 550 (better marketing), but 141 is amazing. I drove it during the height of summer last year on a beautiful day and had sixty miles of breathtaking scenery all to myself.

Colorado 145 south of Telluride is also pretty neat, though on a nice summer day you'll likely be sharing it with bicyclists who have the same idea.
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agentsteel53

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 03:36:05 PM »

I'll see your US-30 in Nebraska and raise you an N-2 across Nebraska

I've only done 2 where it is multiplexed with 71; you are right that I am probably missing out.  71 in general is quite scenic, and also very fast.  for the other end of the state, I really like 4 between 77 and 81; it follows several river beds and there are also plenty of old alignments to find.

for something completely different, US-36 in Kansas.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2013, 04:06:13 PM »

Down in the Great Smokies, it seems like the Tail of the Dragon (US-129) gets most of the attention. But I really enjoyed US-74 from Cleveland, TN, all the way to I-40 near Asheville. The OP mentioned no Interstates nor major US routes, but I'm not sure I'd count this one as a "major" US route in practice (number notwithstanding) simply because for most of the drive I was the ONLY car on the road for miles at a time. I love having the road all to myself through highly scenic areas (which this road certainly had) so that I can go slowly to look at the scenery if I want or I can drive fast and recklessly if I want.

In a completely different vein, Virginia primary routes 22/231 between Charlottesville (technically Shadwell) and Gordonsville are a nice drive through rolling countryside with a lot of large properties belonging to some very wealthy people. There is a really beautiful small Episcopalian church just north of the 22/231 split that is, to me, the highlight of the drive between Northern Virginia and Charlottesville. I simply love passing that church, especially at night when it's lit up. Can't really get a good Street View image because the trees are in the way. I also find this route to be a more pleasant drive than Route 20, which roughly parallels it on the other side of a ridge to the west, because in my experience Route 20 can be painfully slow. Neither road has all that many passing zones due to curves and hills, but for some reason the traffic on Route 20 is just substantially slower. Most people going from Charlottesville to Northern Virginia use US-29 and are unaware of the more scenic route to the east, or else they refuse to consider it because a portion of the most direct version of the scenic route uses I-95 between Fredericksburg and NOVA.
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oscar

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2013, 04:10:34 PM »

for something completely different, US-36 in Kansas.

Ugh.  Yeah, it's different alright, but not in a good way.

Parts of NE 2 east of Alliance might be good for railfans.  It follows a line used a lot (like once every few minutes at times) by coal trains headed east.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2013, 06:22:41 PM »

FL 17 (Scenic Highway) is a departure from standard Florida fare; hills, curves, lakes, small towns, and few traffic signals. Passes by many orange groves, so during springtime, the orange blossoms make for a nice experience.

CR 42 (former FL 42) is also a lightly-traveled route; twists and turns, dips and dives, alongside Ocala National Forest. Watch your speed as you enter Altoona, though.

CA 78 (east of I-15) and CA 79 give you all kinds of scenery in San Diego County.

Edit: "It was" wasn't necessary.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 07:28:32 PM by formulanone »
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NE2

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2013, 06:35:40 PM »

FL 17 (Scenic Highway) is a departure from standard Florida fare; hills, curves, lakes, small towns, and few traffic signals. Passes by many orange groves, so during springtime, the orange blossoms make for a nice experience. It was

A bit to the north is CR 455, a similar hilly road: http://www.floridascenichighways.com/green-mountain-scenic-byway/
Just off the route is Sugarloaf Mountain, the peninsula's highest point (and much more prominent than that Britton Hill BS). West of there, the narrow but paved Grassy Lake Road impressed me. Even northbound on the Turnpike has a nice vista coming over the rise at Grassy Lake Road.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2013, 07:27:22 PM »

California route 253, Boonville-Ukiah Road.  Very scenic, very lightly traveled, lots of twisty passages to try out your cornering ability.
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Molandfreak

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2013, 07:38:45 PM »

Well, if I must:

http://goo.gl/maps/7Ar70

http://goo.gl/maps/iyfbs

Don't go telling everyone you know about these, though :-D
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2013, 07:39:42 PM »

Mattole Road, beginning at Ferndale CA (S of Eureka - hi, Alan!), then over the coastal range and down to the coast. It goes through Petrolia and eventually brings you to U.S. 101 at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It goes by Cape Mendocino, and geology geeks would know this area as close to the Pacific/North America/Gorda plates triple point. Isolated area, no gas stations, no cell phone signals.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2013, 07:48:50 PM »

Another one: This leads to a blueberry farm that could use a little more business :sombrero:

http://goo.gl/maps/AOmlq
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2013, 08:04:09 PM »

for something completely different, US-36 in Kansas.

Ugh.  Yeah, it's different alright, but not in a good way.

Parts of NE 2 east of Alliance might be good for railfans.  It follows a line used a lot (like once every few minutes at times) by coal trains headed east.

Heh, really? I love 36 across Kansas. That whole south of I-80 but not in the Flint Hills east-west tier is pretty boring but 36 makes the best of it- I think it's a neat transition from east-west and enjoy some of the towns along the way. It's certainly nicer than 6 or 34 or Nebraska 4 a few miles north.

The drawback to 36 across Kansas is that there's little way to drive it without also having to drive 36 from Kansas to Denver, which is one of the most brutally boring drives I've ever been on.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 08:06:54 PM by corco »
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2013, 09:01:08 PM »


In a completely different vein, Virginia primary routes 22/231 between Charlottesville (technically Shadwell) and Gordonsville are a nice drive through rolling countryside with a lot of large properties belonging to some very wealthy people. There is a really beautiful small Episcopalian church just north of the 22/231 split that is, to me, the highlight of the drive between Northern Virginia and Charlottesville. I simply love passing that church, especially at night when it's lit up. Can't really get a good Street View image because the trees are in the way. I also find this route to be a more pleasant drive than Route 20, which roughly parallels it on the other side of a ridge to the west, because in my experience Route 20 can be painfully slow. Neither road has all that many passing zones due to curves and hills, but for some reason the traffic on Route 20 is just substantially slower.

That church was quite a surprise the first time I drove by it 17 years ago.

VA 231 from Madison to Sperryville is also quite nice.

VA 20 from Barboursville to VA 3 Wilderness is nice plus has few curves slowing one down although traffic volume north/east of Orange can be heavy sometimes.

Also beautiful and not full of traffic is the entirety of VA 39.

Mapmikey
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2013, 09:13:07 PM »

Riverside Dr (part OH 257, part US 33) from southern Delaware County to abouth 5th Ave in Columbus.

Wilmington Rd through the valley just west of I-71 between Wilmington and Lebanon. Drive it in a small vehicle.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2013, 09:54:32 PM »

WV Secondary Route *

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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2013, 08:15:58 AM »

PA Route 31 between Bedford and Donegal or I-70 instead of the Turnpike.  (Intersects PA 160 from the OP)
WIS 113 - complete with Merrimac Ferry - from Madison to Baraboo rather than I-90
Old York Rd/Old Trail Rd/Susquehanna Trail/MD 45 instead of I-83
US Route 16A





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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2013, 09:58:59 AM »

New Avenue, Main Street (Lemont), and Archer Avenue from Lockport to Willow Springs.  Traverses the industrial and scenic Des Plaines River Valley.  Starts off in forest preserves and oil refineries near Lockport, follows the valley into downtown Lemont, and then climbs up onto the bluff through forest preserves to Willow Springs.

Bluff Road on the other side of the river from Joliet Road to Lemont Road is less industrial and has a great little compound curve on a hill.

IL-71 from Ottawa to IL-178 isn't usually publicized, but goes through and by Starved Rock State Park.  The road goes around and over canyons through the forest in terrain one usually does not associate with north-central Illinois.

H-58 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Until recently, the road wasn't even paved.  H-58 goes through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from Munising (M-28) east to Grand Marais (M-77).

Canal Road from M-26 in Houghton, Michigan out to the Houghton Breakwater on the Portage Lake Waterway.  It starts in urban/suburban Houghton, but passes by forests, farms, and sandy bluffs, and winds its way to a black stamp sand beach at Lake Superior.  Its short length and low traffic makes it a great bicycle ride as well.
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Re: The best drives no one knows about
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2013, 10:29:34 AM »

I like the roads of Wyoming.  I like US 16 west of Newcastle.  May seem boring to some but Wyoming has some long trains and you follow the track.  Also love 14A across the Bighorns.  May not be unknown but everyone talks about 14 (also nice) and 16 (somewhat boring)
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