5 Scenic North American Drives To Enjoy Online

Tina Sieber 14-10-2013

The Autobahn isn’t the be all and end all of highways. The famous German highway system is riddled with speed limits — yes, speed limits! — traffic, and lack of space. If you desire more from a road trip than the occasional speed kick, enjoy the spacious lanes and stunning views of your local North American highways. Better yet, cut both the traffic and your gas bill and virtually enjoy these scenic drives from wherever you are. This is also a great option while some National Parks and Monuments remain closed during a government shutdown.


Below I present 5 iconic North American Highways, from North to South and West to East. Join me on a virtual road trip that will take you across the continent, from the comfort of your home.

How Does A Virtual Road Trip Work?

The best way to get a good impression of the scenery and navigate at your own pace, is to jump into Google Maps with Street View 10 Curiously Geeky Virtual Tours You Can Take On Google Street View Set your bowlines free and travel. Why not use Google Street View to combine the best of travel and geek-dom. Pack your bags then for these ten geeky virtual trips. Read More and fast forward yourself along the highway. Below is the average view of the Autobahn by the way. Notice the speed limit?

Google Maps Street View Autobahn

Alternatively, you can enter smaller legs of your virtual trip into a tool that creates an auto-guided Google Street View tour 5 Tools To Take An Auto-Guided Google Street View Tour Google Maps is a great travel guide. Now you can even set Street View on auto-pilot and let it take you on the world's most scenic drives. Here are 5 tools that make this possible. Read More , such as the Google Maps Streetview Player. That’s a great way to quickly gather impressions.

Google Maps Streetview Player


Finally, you can search YouTube for timelapse videos 4 Ways To Take Time-Lapse Videos Time-lapse videos are some of my favorite videos to watch. They’re just so fascinating, whether the video shows the passage of time in a desert or the workflow of a sketch artist. There’s just something... Read More of your desired trip.

Of course I did all of that for you and included auto-guided tours, videos, and some other resources for the selected highways.

Trans Canada Highway

Where: from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador

The Trans Canada Highway is the world’s longest national highway, measuring 7,821 kilometers or 4,860 miles. It stretches from Victoria, British Columbia in the west to St. John, Newfoundland in the east. On its way from coast to coast, it cuts through temporal rain forest, winds along rivers, crosses the Rocky Mountains, and travels through prairies. Starting and ending on an island, it requires a ferry ride to cross the Pacific on one end and the Atlantic Ocean on the other end of the highway.


Trans Canada Highway

This iconic Canadian highway has its own website,, as well as a mobile page, where you can read about the highway’s history, browse tours and itineraries, and discover a host of other resources.

Further resources: Auto-guided tour & timelapse videos

Sea to Sky Highway

Where: between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada


The Sea to Sky corridor is the most scenic stretch on Highway 99. It runs from Vancouver to just north of Whistler, taking travelers from the Pacific ocean, to the Whistler ski resort, with stunning views of the Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains. To accommodate traffic, the highway was significantly upgraded for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Sea To Sky Highway

The Sea-to-Sky Highway doesn’t have a pretty homepage. After the Improvement Project was completed in 2010, the respective website was decommissioned. However, it continues to link to webcams, stories, and more. Fortunately, many other resources featuring this scenic route are available, including a page on Hello BC, a weekend tour on Tourism Vancouver, a page listing all the interesting stops along the route on Info Vancouver, and a Twitter page with tweeple powered highway updates.

Further resources: Auto-guided tour & timelapse videos.


California State Route 1

Where: from Leggett to Dana Point, California

Route 1 is a legendary state highway that winds along California’s coast. Arguably its most beautifl stretch runs through Big Sur, a sparseley populated area in the Santa Lucia Mountains between Monterey County and San Luis Obispo County. This area is famous for steep cliffs and breathtaking views of the ocean.

Highway One Big Sur

Countless webistes report on Route 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway, as it is called for part of its way. Wikitravel has some of the best information, National Geographic featured it in its Drives of a Lifetime series, and the Travel Channel features a photo series with views along the entire West Coast, from Washington in the north to California in the south.

Further resources: Auto-guided tour & timelapse videos

Highway 12

Where: Panguitch in Garfield County to Torrey in Wayne County, Utah

Highway 12, also known as Scenic Byway 12, has been an All American Road since 2002. Over the course of its 124 miles (200 km), it runs through two national parks, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, and passes many waypoints worth exploring.

Scenic Byway 12 has its own website (no longer available), which features an interactive map and many helpful resources for travelers. has further details on the stops along the way.

Further resources: Auto-guided tour & timelapse videos

Overseas Highway

Where: Florida City to Key West, Florida

The Overseas Highway is part of US Route 1. Over 127.5 miles (205.2 km), it passes through the Florida Keys. Large parts were built using bridges of the former Overseas Railroad, which was not rebuilt after serious Hurricane damage in 1935. The modern highway opened in 1938, but partially existed in 1928, when ferries connected a 41 mile gap between its sections.

The highway has its own section on the Florida Keys & Key West website, National Geographic featured it in their Drives of a Lifetime series, on the Keys History page, you’ll find a chapter on the History of the Overseas Highway and then there is a Stories From The Oversease Highway Facebook page.

Further resources: Auto-guided tour & timelapse videos

More Incredible Adventures

One article can only feature so many things. If you are eager to discover scenic drives close to your corner of the US, have a look at America’s Byways, a page by the Federal Highway Administration or browse for timelapse videos of scenic drives from around the country.

Where Will Your Next Road Trip Take You?

Have you discovered something you must see for real? Where is your next road trip Everything You Need to Prepare for a Long Car Journey or Road Trip I love road trips. Just saying or writing this word sends shivers of excitement down my spine. If you think I’m crazy, it’s probably because you grew up in a country where road trips are... Read More going to take you? And what routes can you recommend from your last? Please share your travel memories and plans in the comments!

Image Credits: Pacific Coast Highway Via Flickr, EditorASC via Wikimedia

Related topics: Google Maps, Google Street View, Travel.

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  1. dragonmouth
    October 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Having driven the Trans Canada, Blue Ridge and several other scenic routes, I will tell you that no matter how pretty the virtual drives are, there is no way they can compare to the real thing. Yes, there may be traffic. Yes, you will spend money on gas. But even if you watch the virtual drive on 100 inch UHD TV will you get the feeling of the majesty of the Canadian Rockies when driving from Calgary to Kamloops and onto Chilliwack. No matter how good your monitor resolution is, it is still a flat 2D representation of a magnificent 3D world. When doing a virtual drive you cannot stop and take picture of a moose grazing by the roadside. When doing a virtual drive you cannot see the rainbow after the rain in the Smokies. When on a virtual drive you cannot stop and sample the wines of Mendocino.

    Of course if you are a slave to your electronic gadgets, a virtual scenic drive will be more than adequate for your purposes.

    • Tina S
      October 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Well, I don't think I sold these virtual drives as offering the same experience as being there for real. I'm pretty sure most people appreciate the difference and -- unless they suffer from conditions like motion sickness or claustrophobia -- would not waste their time with the virtual experience, if they had the chance to step out and do it in the real world.

      What I offered was an alternative to explore, for example before picking one of the scenic routes, for the curious who are too far away to be there for real (beats watching TV for sure), for the curious who cannot afford to drive or travel, for those who need some encouragement to go out etc.

      There are all kinds of ways in which Google Street View data can enhance or enrich real world experiences. Here is one more, which actually gave me the idea for this article: Before you drive into Big Sur, be sure to time your trip so you can stop at Nepenthe for lunch or coffee. The view from this place is awesome. If you're coming from the North, the parking lot can easily be missed and your GPS might not be able to find the exact spot. So hop into Google Street View and memorize the area. That way you won't have to turn around and go back or -- worse -- wonder whether you've already passed the restaurant in the first place.

  2. Roger C
    October 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    How could you miss the Blue Ridge Parkway in this list?!?!

    • Tina S
      October 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      I only covered 5, so there are many more I couldn't include. I chose the Overseas Highway over Blue Ridge Parkway because the material on YouTube and the Google Views were much nicer.