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Top 10 Must-See U.S. Road Trip Stops

Many people dream of packing up their belongings and driving across the country. A cross-country drive is the best way to see the vast land of North America; the shifting landscapes and unique feature make the drive incredible.

When we fly across the country, we leave our usual city and arrive in another city that looks relatively similar to ours. On a flight, we miss the beauty of the country that can only be experienced by driving. The small towns, the geographic viewpoints, and the historical landmarks of a cross-country road trip make the journey incredible.

The Adventure Tribune compiled a list of necessary stopping points along a cross-country road trip. Yes, some are stereotypical, but they’re cliche for a reason. Some, however, are further off the beaten path. (In another article, we’ll examine the best unique road trip stops).

Obviously, there are hundreds of potential stops for any road trip dependent upon your chosen route, available time, and passenger preferences, so no need to hit all of these at once.

So, here are The Adventure Tribune’s top ten must-see road trip stopping points. Be sure to hit them all on your cross-country journey:

1. Mount Rushmore

The sheer idea that humans were able to carve four massive faces into the side of a mountain while swinging on ropes in the early 1900s is astonishing. The fact that the monument contains a walkway with all U.S. state flags in a beautiful backdrop makes this semi-cliche stop worth your while.


2. Little Bighorn

The massacres that occurred at Little Bighorn are a reminder of the cost that Native Americans had to pay in order for European-American colonization of the Western continent. Visit the site to learn about the other perspectives of so-called “Manifest Destiny”.


3. Yellowstone National Park

This untouched land provides ridiculous natural viewpoints, so bring your camera. Appreciate the volcanology of as many geysers as possible and take in the wildlife that has grown accustomed to human interaction. Purchase a camping pass and spend the night in the wild!


4. Badlands National Park

The full-scale anthill-like landscape evokes a sense that you’ve actually driven into Mars. With some of the most unique and desolate land in the country, you’ll see when the seemingly random area is known as “The Badlands”. And watch out for rams!


5. Rocky Mountains

The backbone of the United States is more of a continuous destination rather than a single stopping point. Plan on taking your time as you drive through the Continental Divide and pass pass carved-out canyons, rushing rivers, and abandoned mineshafts.


6. Mesa Verde

Over 1,000 years ago, Puebloan cultures in southern Colorado built neighborhoods and villages out of stone in the sides of canyon walls and used rock climbing techniques to get from one neighborhood to another. See for yourself, and take a tour of the cliff dwellings while you’re at it.


7. Arches National Park

Again, some of the United States’ most unique landscapes reside in this section of the country. Just a short jaunt off of Interstate 70, plan on spending a few hours here and taking in the dozens of natural and deceptively huge arches that dot the orange landscape.


8. Grand Canyon

It’s called the “Grand” Canyon for a reason. More than one mile deep and 26 miles wide (in some places), the massive divot is essentially the Rocky Mountains in reverse. The colors and rock formations will evoke a sense of smallness within you that can’t be experienced any other way.


9. Redwood Forest

The sheer size of the trees in the Redwood Forest (near San Francisco) will blow you away. Add on the fact that you can drive through a tunnel that’s been carved out in the middle of a tree makes this drive amazing.


10. Golden Gate Bridge

Again, this “stop” will be more of a route, but seeing the iconic American symbol is worth every minute. The road is narrow and the bridge is massive in both length and height, so be prepared for  nervous energy as you look over the side of the bridge and see the infamous Alcatraz prison below you.


If you want to see another feature added to our list, write your own and send it to submissions@theadventuretribune.com to see it published.

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Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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