Peace & Serenity: America’s 10 Quietest, Most Scenic Routes

In January of 1966, Pennsylvania natives The Vogues released Five O’Clock World. The album’s eponymous lead single tells the story – one we can all related to – of a man hustling about the city and fighting through rush hour traffic. He works a hard job to earn his paycheck, but it’s worth it becasue at the end of the day, a “long-haired girl” waits for him.

A line in the first verse is indicative of something we have all experienced before: “sounds of the city pounding in my brain, while another day goes down the drain.”

Quiet Getaway

Sometimes, it’s necessary to get away from all the hustle and bustle and noise. If you’re like us, perhaps you made a resolution to travel more in 2018, but just where does one go when hitting the proverbial road? And where does one go when looking for a little peace and quiet? Geotab, a global leader in IoT and connected transportation, has released a study analyzing national road traffic data to determine which American routes are the least traveled and congested.

Utilizing traffic count data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System and the Annual Average Daily Traffic score, Geotab examined U.S. Interstates and Routes over 10 miles long to identify the quietest roadways in each state. And it just so happens, the quietest routes are also among the most scenic.

Polar Bear Plunge

To help determine the most scenic routes, Geotab asked renowned photographer James “Q” Martin to participate. Martin has traveled extensively throughout the American Southwest and to more than 30 countries, documenting the world-class athletes, artists, conservationists, filmmakers, and scientists who inspire him. The most scenic routes on Geotab’s list were compiled manually with the rankings decided by Martin himself.

“I chose Alaska’s Dalton Highway as my favorite scenic, quiet route,” he explained. “It is a road that reaches the top of the continent, and would literally allow you to see a polar bear in the right circumstances.”

The Dalton Highway runs over 400 miles with upwards of 250 miles between service stations. The area is famous for the TV show Ice Road Truckers, and brave travelers will see Alaska’s boreal forests, mountain ranges, and Yukon River. When compared to others on the list, traffic numbers are quite slim, averaging just 196 vehicles daily. The remaining nine routes averaged 2,976 vehicles daily, approximately 15 times more than Alaska’s Dalton Highway.

The James W. Dalton Highway is a 414-mile stretch of gravel and dirt that spans from Livengood to Prudhoe Bay with the Trans-Alaska pipeline running alongside the road. According to Alaska.org, travelers will pass through Coldfoot, home to the world’s northernmost truck stop and the highway’s only place to stop for the night. Accommodations are simple yet expensive. Photo: Terry Feuerborn.

Desert Landscapes & Fall Colors

Utah’s Route 50 came in a close second, billed as “America’s Loneliest Road” through Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, and the Great Salt Lake Desert. The desert, in general, can be an enjoyable place to drive speaking from experience. In the past, we have made the trip (on more than one occasion) from Phoenix, Arizona to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Interstate 10, especially during sunset, offers some stunning views of the desert landscape.

Arriving in third place is U.S. Route 201 in Maine, often times called “Old Canada Road.” Travelers on this journey will see historic places and Wyman Lake. It’s recommended to make this drive in the fall just as the leaves are changing color.

“U.S. 50 in Utah allows you to travel back through geological time, and Maine’s Old Canadian byway is where human history unfolds around every bend,” Martin said.

Wyoming’s Beartooth Highway leading to Yellowstone National Park made the list not surprisingly. Beartooth Lake and the Absaroka Mountains also offer stunning views, although plan to visit when nicer weather arrives. The road is closed during the winter. Photo: Tia Troy.

Out & About

In addition to determining the top 10 most scenic routes, Geotab identified the overall least traveled routes by state. Here in Michigan, Geotab lists U.S. Route 45, a 54-mile stretch that passes through the state’s Upper Peninsula, as the quietest and least traveled. While many are “off the beaten path,” Geotab’s interactive map includes photos, additional insights, and Google Street Views that highlight the various attractions on or near each route.

“All of these routes offer so much,” Martin added.

The full list and Geotab’s interactive map can be viewed here. If you decided to venture out, make sure you share your photos with us on Twitter.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Cover Photo: Augusta, Maine skyline, Sean Pavon.

Dalton Highway Photo: “Dalton Highway, Brooks Range, Alaska, 2009” by Terry Feuerborn is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To see more photos, including the basic hotel accommodations, visit Feuerborn’s Flickr page.

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