California Scenic Drives

California scenic drives guarantee eye-catching landscapes, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and breathtaking views. The links at the bottom of this page will take you to articles about five such drives, each with photos, highlights, and detailed maps.

Coastline routes, particularly the state's Highway 1, require frequent stops at beaches, national parks and historic destinations. It's possible to spend days winding along this highway nestled between mountain cliffs and the Pacific coastline. Inland routes captivate with trips through the harsh desert of Death Valley, the amazing sites in Yosemite National Park, and the lively, artsy road from Los Angeles to Pasadena.


Pack plenty of gear -- temperatures can range from chilly to hot, and some routes feature weather conditions that change from cool and foggy to dry and sunny within a few hours.

To plan a scenic drive through California that suits you, here's a preview of our articles on five of the state's most scenic roads:

Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway (Arroyo Seco Parkway)

Conceived as a scenic parkway, the Pasadena Freeway curves through the urban landscape between Los Angeles and Pasadena and architectural treasures from the Arts and Crafts movement.

Big Sur Coast Highway

California's Route 1 follows the Pacific coastline from Carmel to San Luis Obispo, with sea lions, whale watching, beaches, and towering redwoods.

Death Valley Scenic Byway

Death Valley National Park is a desert drive past spring flowers, painted rocks and ghost towns. Fans of the Old West covet this scenic route.

San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway (Highway 1)

Originally a Franciscan mission, this portion of Northern California features estuaries where otters and sea lions play, with plenty of opportunities to hike and surf.

Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road (Tioga Road)

Yosemite National Park's scenic route features an ascent of one mile to the state's highest automobile pass. Along the way, giant sequoia trees, bald granite domes, and forested mountains define this region.

For more useful travel information about California and beyond, see:

  • California State Guide: Discover all the things to do in California, and learn about Mobil Travel Guide-related hotels and restaurants in the state.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives in states other than California? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.