The New Best in the West Guide for the American West
by Joseph A. Sprince - Photography by Gerald B. Allen
Our original "Best in the West" guide, the Top Fifty Best Places in the American West provided a random, eclectic, and entertaining selection of the "best" and "most" places in the west. Our New Best in the West guide will take a more organized look at some of the west's greatest places. We hope this will be helpful to visitors considering a trip to the American West, and enjoyable to armchair travelers as well.
The New Best in the West Guide will be updated occasionally. The first category, shown below, is Spectacular Scenic Routes. (Photo, left: historic Rocky Creek Bridge on Big Sur Coast Highway - California Highway 1.)
We haven't been everywhere of course, and there are many other routes which could be included on this list. We welcome your feedback and opinions on the best places. Responsible feedback will be added to the appropriate page.
Our Favorite Spectacular Scenic Routes
- Arizona's Apache Trail
President Theodore Roosevelt called the Apache Trail "one of the most spectacular best-worth-seeing sights of the world". Roosevelt drove the road by car in 1911 on the way to the dedication of the lake and dam named in his honor... (More...)
- Big Sur Coast Highway - California Highway 1
The beautiful seacoast of central California is the focus of this route. For over 200 miles from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco, Highway 1 closely follows the coast with an endless procession of beaches, bluffs, and rugged cliffs. From Ragged Point to Carmel, the road largely hugs the cliffs which fall spectacularly to the ocean hundreds of feet below. (More...)
- California - Death Valley Scenic Byway
Death Valley offers some of the strangest scenery anywhere as well as North America's lowest and hottest place. Besides the sculpted desert hills, sand dunes, and salt flats, spectacular mountains dominate the backdrop. These include the snow-covered Sierra Nevada with the tallest peaks in the lower 48. (More...)
- Colorado's Trail Ridge Road
The Trail Ridge Road reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet while crossing the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is America's highest continuously paved road. Eleven miles of the route above tree line feature the stark tundra world commonly found above the Arctic Circle. (More...)
- Colorado - San Juan Skyway
The Skyway covers the best of the San Juan Range, the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, teeming with 14,000 foot peaks. It features the Million Dollar Highway which connects the classic western towms of Durango, Silverton, and Ouray... (More...)
- Montana - Going-to-the-Sun Road
The highlight of Glacier National Park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the world's finest scenic drives. The fifty mile route connects the east and west sides of Glacier National Park, climbing spectacularly over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, elevation 6,680 feet... (More...)
- South Dakota - Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway
The Byway offers the best of the Black Hills of South Dakota, including the unique Iron Mountain Road with its stone tunnels and "pigtail" bridges, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, and the Needles Highway. (More...)
- Utah's Scenic Highway 12
One of the west's most scenic routes, Highway-12 showcases sandstone sculpted into a wide variety of amazing canyons and formations in Utah's Canyon Country. Scenery varies from the colorful amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon to the surreal canyons of the Escalante River. (More...)
- Wyoming/Montana - Beartooth Highway
The Beartooth Highway is considered one of America's most spectacular alpine byways, offering rugged mountains, icy glaciers, and alpine meadows full of wildflowers as well as abundant wildlife. The highway holds the distinction of being the longest stretch of road running though alpine tundra in the world... (More...)
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