50 Highest Viewpoints in the U.S. Reachable By Car
Some of the best attractions to be found in this great, big world aren't manmade — although the path to them is. Whether roads were created to get from one place to another or to simply bring the masses to the doors of the world, there are roads in the United States that will take you higher than you've ever been before.
If you are ready for a road trip that leaves you awestruck, drive to these viewpoints to take in some of the best (and highest) sights America has to offer.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
The oft-found Instagram images of Horseshoe Bend don't do it justice. You simply have to see it in person to take in the 1,000-foot cliffs made from the winding Colorado River (which carved the Grand Canyon).
Elevation: 4,200 feet
Route: Follow Highway 89 from Page, Arizona, to milepost 544. It's A 3/4-mile walk to the rim.
Cadillac Mountain, Maine
The highest point on the North Atlantic Seaboard, Cadillac Mountain is within Acadia National Park in Maine, with its peak accessible by car. People head to this spot to catch the first sunrise on the East Coast.
Elevation: 1,530 feet
Route: Cadillac Summit Loop Trail, a 3.5-mile paved loop
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyoming
You can drive right up to various lookout points in Yellowstone to take in the 1,000-foot deep Grand Canyon.
At Uncle Tom's Point, just a half-mile from the parking lot, you can get views of the Upper Falls, which drop 110 feet.
Elevation: 7,784 feet
Route: Follow Grand Loop Trail near Canyon Village
Fees: $35 per vehicle
Cathedral Ledge, New Hampshire
Found within the state park of the same name, you can only visit this peak by car in late spring through fall, as the snow can make it a treacherous drive. But the views of the Saco River Valley to the White Mountains make it worth the wait.
Elevation: 1,159 feet
Route: Cathedral Ledge Road, a 1-mile paved in-and-back trail
Fees: $4 adults, $2 children 6-11
Spruce Knob, West Virginia
West Virginia's highest peak, Spruce Knob, also features an observation tower at its peak. The viewing platform with 360-degree views of Monongahela National Forest is just a half-mile loop walk along the Whispering Spruce Trail.
Elevation: 4,863 feet
Route: Follow the paved FR 104 about 1.6 miles to the tower parking lot.
Marin Headlands, California
Overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area provides the prettiest views of San Francisco, and Vista Point makes a perfect perch for sunset viewing.
Elevation: 923 feet
Route: Conzelman Road, a 5-mile paved drive
Pikes Peak, Colorado
Follow the winding Pikes Peak Highway first constructed in 1915 for a 38-mile, there-and-back journey with multiple stops for views of the Rocky Mountains at the Continental Divide. You'll drive from 7,400 feet to 14,115 feet to reach the summit.
Elevation: 14,115 feet
Route: 19-mile drive
Fees: $10 16+, $5 children 6-15, or $35 for up to 5 passengers
Clingsmans Dome, Tennessee
The highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be seen by car or by the observation tower known as Clingsman Dome, which provides 360-degree unobstructed views. Just plan accordingly: The road is closed from December through March.
Elevation: 6,643 feet
Route: Follow Clingsman Dome Road, a 7-mile paved road with multiple scenic pullouts. If you want to walk to the dome, it's a half-mile paved trail.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire
In order to make the drive to the highest summit in the Presidential Mountain Range, you can only travel May through October, otherwise, you'll have to take a guide snowcat adventure to the peak in Mount Washington State Park, as the roads are covered in snow.
Elevation: 6,288 feet
Route: Mount Washington Auto Road
Fees: $35 car and driver, $10 adult passenger, $7 child 5-12
Yosemite's Glacier Point, California
Be awed by the stunning valley of Yosemite National Park with its warm-weather drive and overlook — but hurry! — the road will close in 2022 for repairs.
Elevation: 7,214 feet
Route: Follow Wawona Road, which is Highway 41 within the park, to Glacier Point Road
Fees: $35 per vehicle
Pinnacles Overlook, South Dakota
Throughout Badlands National Park’s 244,000 acres, visitors will see a vast landscape of geological formations that include eroded buttes and pinnacles. These mix with prairie grass where bison, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs roam free. The view from Pinnacles Overlook is one of the park’s best and is the highest elevation in its North Unit.
Elevation: 3,625 feet
Route: Follow the park’s Loop Road
Fees: $30 per vehicle
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
The 15 miles of sandstone cliffs that make up Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are filled with caves, arches and glistening waterfalls. Take in the views of Lake Superior from the park’s 100 miles of hiking trails, or plan a boating adventure in the lake’s waters.
Elevation: 200 feet
Route: Alger County Road H-58 runs through the park, offering access to other roads that lead to scenic overlooks and trailheads.
Crown Point, Oregon
While there are several hikes and places to stop along the Columbia River Gorge, Crown Point is perhaps the easiest to access by car via the state’s famous I-84 highway. Plus, you can step back in time here by visiting the circa-1916 Vista House, a place where locals once used to hang out and enjoy a refreshment. This viewpoint also marks the beginning of the “Waterfall Corridor” that features eight waterfalls along the highway.
Elevation: 733 feet
Route: Take I-84/US-30 to this viewpoint, located about 30 miles from Portland
Brasstown Bald, Georgia
Take in the views of Georgia's tallest mountain, Brasstown Bald, in the North Georgia Mountains without having to lace-up hiking boots. Brasstown Bald features a scenic overlook, accessible by car.
Elevation: 4,784 feet
Route: Georgia Spur 180, 3 miles to Visitor Center, then follow the .6-mile foot trail from the parking lot
Fees: $5 ages 16+ ($3 after hours)
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
It will take you about two hours to drive to the peak of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, which actually sees snow! At the top, you can visit the Mauna Kea Observatory.
Elevation: 13,796 feet
Route: Mauna Kea Summit Road, with a stop at the Visitor Center at 9,200 feet to check in on weather conditions before continuing
Fees: Donations welcome
Big Sur, California
Renowned for being one of the prettiest drives in the world, Highway 1 in Monterey County travels to Big Sur with dramatic scenery at every twist and turn, including the Bixby Bridge (pictured). It may not be the state's highest viewpoint, but it's arguably one of the best.
Elevation: 280 feet
Route: Travel from Monterey to Big Sur along the Pacific Coast Highway 1
Going to the Sun Road, Montana
Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Road has portions that are open all year and some that get closed in the winter. To see a glacier from the road, visit Jackson Glacier Overlook, and for the highest elevation, stop at Logan Pass.
Elevation: 6,646 feet
Route: Follow the road and find the glacier between Logan Pass and St. Mary.
Fees: $35 per vehicle
Sun Point Overlook, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park is made up of 12 archaeological sites that were once home to the Ancestral Pueblo people more than 700 years ago. Take the six-mile drive along Mesa Top Loop Road to access this overlook, among many others.
Elevation: 8,572 feet
Route: The park entrance is located along Highway 160, about 35 miles west of Durango, Colorado.
Fees: $20-$30 per vehicle (depending on time of year)
Mount Mitchell, North Carolina
Visit Mount Mitchell State Park, and you'll be in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. The park's observation deck, located on the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, is just a short walk from the parking lot.
Elevation: 6,684 feet
Route: Follow the Blue Ridge Parkway to NC 128, which leads directly to the park
Bruneau Canyon Overlook, Idaho
Visit what is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Southwest Idaho to see the 60-mile, river-carved canyon with far fewer crowds. The overlook is just a short walk from the parking lot.
Elevation: 800 feet
Route: Travel Hwy-51 to Hot Springs Road, and climb 18.7 miles to the overlook.
Hyner View, Pennsylvania
Hyner Run State Park in central Pennsylvania provides views of the Susquehanna River and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Elevation: 1,900 feet
Route: Hyner View Road, a 5-mile paved route
Sunrise Point, Utah
Drive to the Visitor Center at Bryce Canyon National Park, and you'll find views of the hoodoos in the canyon at Sunrise Point, just a few minutes away.
Elevation: 8,073 feet
Route: Take UT-63 to Bryce Canyon National Park. The Visitor's Center is 1 mile inside.
Fees: $35 per vehicle
Beartooth Highway, Montana/Wyoming
Not only will you see Yellowstone National Park via its northeast entrance, but you can also travel along 68 miles of Montana and Wyoming on a National Scenic Byway that dates back to 1936.
Elevation: 10,947 feet
Route: Begin south of Red Lodge, Montana to Yellowstone near Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana
Griffith Park, California
Want to take in those brilliant views of Los Angeles often captured in film? Head to Griffith Park's Observatory, where a parking lot overlooks the city and the world-famous Hollywood Sign.
The Observatory is found on Mount Hollywood's southern slope.
Elevation: 1,134 feet
Route: Head to Griffith Park via North Vermont Avenue or Ferndell Drive and connect to Western Canyon Road to Observatory Road
Fees: $10/hour for parking; otherwise, walking around the Observatory grounds is free
Mount Mansfield, Vermont
Vermont's highest peak is found in the State Forest of the same name. A grand hotel once stood at the location in which the visitor's center and views can be found. And if you want similar views in the winter (when the road is closed), try skiing in nearby Smugglers Notch.
Elevation: 3,850 feet
Route: The Auto Toll Road, a 4.5-mile winding road to the summit
Fees: $25 per vehicle
Skyline Drive, Virginia
The 105-mile Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park travels along the peaks of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and is one of the prettiest drives in the U.S.
Elevation: 3,680 feet
Route: There are 70 overlooks, so expect to stop a lot as you travel Skyline Drive.
Fees: $30 per vehicle
Whiteface Mountain, New York
There are nine different scenic viewpoints on a trip up Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid. If you get out of the car, you can climb the stairs reaching the observation tower, where you can then take an elevator 276 feet down into the mountain.
Elevation: 4,610 feet
Route: Travel the 5-mile Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway
Fees: $16 car and driver, $9 additional passengers 6+
Sinnott Memorial Observation Station, Oregon
A small museum with the history of Crater Lake National Park may be the attraction here, but the real reason to visit is its overlook with spectacular views of the volcanic lake.
Elevation: 7,100 feet
Route: Follow Rim Drive to the Rim Visitor Center
Fees: $30 per vehicle
Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
Another Colorado drive within the Rocky Mountains is the national park's 48-mile road, 11 miles of which are above treeline. Weather can close the route, but when the snow isn't falling, you'll be awed — and possibly dizzy from the various climbs and switchbacks.
Elevation: 12,183 feet
Route: Follow Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park and Grand Lake
Fees: $25 per vehicle
Slate Peak, Washington
The highest point in Washington can be found in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in the heart of the North Cascades Mountains. Hart's Pass to Slate Peak road is not for the weak: It's rocky, unpaved and narrow along cliffs! The gate is closed at the base of Slate Peak, though, so you'll have to hike the last part to get to the peak's full 7,488 feet.
Elevation: 6,900 feet
Route: Find Mazama Junction and follow Forest Service Road 5400 to Hart's Pass
Tioga Pass, California
Within the Sierra Nevada mountains, you can find 22 paved routes that offer stunning views, one of which is from the highest pass, Tioga. You'll also get to see the highest peak of the Sierra Nevadas, Mount Whitney, which stands 14,505 feet.
Elevation: 9,943 feet
Route: The pass is actually Route 120 and connects to Yosemite Valley with Highway 395.
Fees: $35 per vehicle
Mount Evans Scenic Byway, Colorado
If you're looking for the highest viewpoint, you cannot miss a drive on Mount Evans Scenic Byway, which is the highest paved road in North America. You can reach the summit by car between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Elevation: 14,264 feet
Route: The byway's official name is Highway 5
One of the most scenic drives in Hawaii can be found on the island of Oahu, where driving from Honolulu to the North Shore can take longer than GPS estimates because you will be stopping to snap pictures from its many overlooks, like this one overlooking Makapu'u Beach.
Route: Drive along 72, also known as Kalaniana'ole Highway
Eagle Peak, Texas
The highest point in West Texas' Eagle Mountains, sometimes called Devil Ridge Mountains, is located on private property. But there is a drive that can get you to the top for its views.
Elevation: 7,484 feet
Route: Take 1-10 to Radar Road, and connect to Guest Ranch Road to drive the gravel road to the top.
Fees: None, but you do need permission from Hayter Ranch
Black Mountain, Kentucky
The highest point in Kentucky is Black Mountain and can be found on the border of the state with Virginia. A road will get you to the top for the summit views, even in the wintertime.
Elevation: 4,144 feet
Route: From 1-81, take Route 160 to the top.
Mount Washington, Pennsylvania
Overlooking the city of Pittsburgh, Mount Washington stands above the Monogahela River and can be reached by car. While it's not nearly as tall as other mountains, it's one of the few with city views.
If you have the time to spare, ride the historic funicular to the top instead.
Elevation: 367 feet
Route: Head south of the city to Route 19 to Grandview Avenue north
Fees: Free unless you ride the funicular, which is $5 roundtrip
Alyeska Resort, Alaska
Most head to Alyeska Resort just outside of Alaska to hike and especially to ski, but if you're not feeling energetic, you can visit the resort and pop in for a drink or bite with the same views found from the slopes. You'll take in glaciers and mountains surrounding the sound — if the clouds don't roll in!
The resort's aerial tram provides an excellent view of Turnagain Arm as it climbs into the Chugach Mountains.
Elevation: 2,300 feet
Route: Follow the Alyeska Highway from Girdwood, Alaska, for 3 miles
Fees: None for resort; $35 for tram
Whitetop Mountain, Virginia
The second-highest mountain in Virginia has an observation site at its peak, accessible via a free drive. Whitetop Mountain is found within the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.
Elevation: 5,525 feet
Route: Follow Whitetop Road, also called State Route 762, for a 6-mile paved drive
Mount Magazine, Arkansas
In the northwest corner of Arkansas, within the Ozark Mountains, you will find the state's highest peak on Mount Magazine. But you won't need to hike to take in the views, as the mountain's state park features the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway with various lookouts along the 45-minute route.
Elevation: 2,753 feet
Route: Start in Havana, Arkansas, to follow the Scenic Byway to the top of Mount Magazine
Fees: $12 per person
Brockway Mountain, Michigan
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan features rugged state and national parks and aligns Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. Its highest peak, Brockway Mountain, features a 9-mile scenic drive with vista points over the hills and Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. It's also the highest paved road between the Allegheny and Rocky Mountains.
Note: The Brockway Mountain Drive is seasonal and closes during the winter months.
Elevation: 735 feet
Route: Head to Copper Harbor via 41 and then along 26 for the scenic drive
Deception Pass, Washington
Drive the scenic Whidbey Isle Way from Seattle to the San Juan Islands of Washington, and you'll take in some amazing water views. But nothing will stop your heart as much as when you cross over to the island via the Deception Pass Bridge.
It's not as high as a mountain, but when you are above the water for nearly 1,500 feet, it feels higher than the highest mountaintop.
Elevation: 180 feet
Route: Follow Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
Fees: $5 toll
Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
The highest point in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock can be found in the Berkshires in the northwest corner. On a clear day, you can see for 90 miles — with views of nearby Vermont, Connecticut and New York. You can drive straight to the summit where an overlook awaits.
Elevation: 3,489 feet
Route: From the town of Adams, Massachusetts, you will find the Mount Greylock Scenic Byway 1 mile north of Lanesborough on Route 7.
Mount Washburn, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park's highest road pass could close in the winter, but traveling during the warmer months will give you plenty of picturesque spots near Mount Washburn.
Elevation: 8,859 feet
Route: Follow Yellowstone's Dunraven Pass
Fees: $35 per vehicle
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, Nevada
To find the highest drive in Nevada, simply head to Great Basin National Park, home to Wheeler Peak and its scenic drive. The 12-mile road is considered one of the most dangerous in the country and climbs 4,000 feet.
Elevation: 10,163 feet
Route: Start at Highway 488 at Great Basin National Park
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Arizona
Drive to a church built into the red rocks of Sedona, which is picturesque enough. But all you have to do is step out of the car to see views like these.
Elevation: 4,491 feet
Route: Follow 179 south from Sedona about 4 miles to Chapel Road
Steens Mountain, Oregon
If you're really up for an adventure while searching out the best views, travel one of Oregon's most dangerous roads: Steens Mountain Loop Road. This 59-mile rugged route on gravel takes you by Big Indian Gorge (among others) and climbs to nearly 10,000 feet.
Elevation: 9,700 feet
Route: Head to Frenchglen, Oregon, to access the road
Ouachita National Forest, Oklahoma/Arkansas
In Southeastern Oklahoma along the border of Arkansas, you can travel along the 54-mile Talimena Scenic Byway through the Ouachita National Forest. The route winds around Rich and Winding Stair Mountains to provide ample scenic vistas for photo-worthy moments.
Elevation: 2,681 feet
Route: From Big Cedar, Oklahoma, take 259 north to Route 1, also called Talimena Scenic Drive. In Arkansas, begin in Mena to Route 88, also called Skyline Drive.
Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina
The highest peak in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain's summit can be reached via an access road, albeit it one that's a bit tricky to maneuver. The drive will take you over Chimneytop Gap, and from the observation deck, you can look at the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, just across the border.
Elevation: 3,554 feet
Route: Take Highway 11 from US 178
Shoshone Falls, Idaho
This waterfall, dubbed the “Niagara of the West,” is situated on the Snake River in southern Idaho. In fact, Shoshone Falls stands 212-feet high, about 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Visitors can drive to an overlook in Shoshone Falls Park as well as hike the various trails spread out along the south rim of the Snake River canyon.
Elevation: 3,255 feet
Route: From the nearest city of Twin Falls, drive northeast for about 5 miles until reaching the park entrance.
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Independence Pass, Colorado
A large scenic overlook in the Rocky Mountains will have you standing on the Continental Divide between the Eastern and Western U.S. with 360-degree views. The 32-mile, one-way drive twists and turns, offering many scenic stops along the way. It gets closed during the winter months so be sure to visit when the mountains aren't snow-covered.
Elevation: 12,095 feet
Route: Follow Independence Pass between Leadville and Aspen, Colorado