California is the third-largest state in the U.S., and it offers residents and visitors alike beautiful views and many scenic routes. From the mountains of Northern California to the beaches of Southern California, the state has something for everyone.
Because California is home to millions of residents and attracts millions of visitors every year, many of the major roads are busy year-round. The high volume of activity and traffic often results in collisions, so remember safe driving practices while you enjoy your road trip.
Scenic Roads in California
No matter what you’re looking to see, California has it all. Some of the state’s most scenic roads are described below.
Pacific Coast Highway (California State Route 1)
Pacific Coast Highway, or California State Route 1, is one of the most scenic roads in all of California. While it is an extensive highway — and there are many great destinations to visit while driving along it — its most popular section runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Route 66 runs through many states, including California. There are major stops along the California portion of Route 66, including the Mojave Desert, Pasadena, and the Santa Monica Pier, where it ends.
U.S. Route 395
U.S. Route 395 is a multistate highway running through Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California. In California, the drive between Lone Pine and Lake Tahoe offers stunning views of the beautiful mountains and lakes.
Death Valley Scenic Byway (State Route 190)
You may have heard of Death Valley Park. While the name sounds alarming, the Death Valley Scenic Byway is a fantastic way to explore the park. It is highly recommended that visitors avoid this area in the summer; instead, you should visit in the spring or fall.
Golden Chain Highway (State Route 49)
The discovery of gold in the 1800s brought hundreds of thousands to California. Traveling along the Golden Chain Highway allows you to explore various mining towns and some ghost towns. It’s a drive rich in history.
Napa Valley lovers can try the Silverado Trail. This two-lane road runs parallel to Highway 29 and offers a beautiful, picturesque drive through the valley. Driving along the Silverado trail is ideal for wine lovers, as you’ll find several Napa wineries along the way.
State Route 74
For those looking to explore Palm Springs and the desert area, State Route 74 is an ideal scenic drive in California. The highway connects Palm City near Palm Springs with Idyllwild, a mountain community.
It is highly recommended to take this drive while the weather is good, as the winter months can bring heavy snow and make the drive tougher to navigate.
Tioga Road (State Route 120)
State Route 120, also known as Tioga Road, runs through Yosemite National Park. Enjoy gorgeous views along this route, including redwoods and giant cliffs. It’s worth noting Tioga Road is only open during certain months of the year, typically from late spring to fall, so it’s best to plan accordingly.
Lake Tahoe Highways
Lake Tahoe is one of the largest and most well-known lakes in California. You can plan an entire drive around the lake along U.S. Route 50 and State Routes 89 and 28. The drive provides stunning views of the lake, and there are beaches around the lake if you wish to stop and enjoy.
Enjoy California’s Scenic Roads Safely
It’s easy to get lost on the many roads in California. However, planning your drives ahead of time helps ensure safety.
If you experience an unfortunate car accident while on the road in California, a qualified car accident attorney can help.