Most scenic route from San Francisco to New York

A long trip is a fantastic idea for a road trip. San Francisco and New York City are on opposite sides of the United States, about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) apart. The incredible drive from San Francisco to New York takes you from coast to coast through rich and yet unknown landscapes. It allows you to explore the culture of the Wild West and the seemingly infinite vast areas of America’s Heartland. The San Francisco to New York road trip brings you to small villages, old saloons, and breathtaking scenery that most people only see by flying. 

The best route from San Francisco to New York never deviates from Interstate 80. This simple yet lengthy journey connects many of America’s most gorgeous landscapes and iconic cities, so take your time and watch as much as possible. Along this path, you can spend 9 days experiencing nature’s finest. Here are the most scenic routes you’ll take from San Francisco to New York.

Highlights

  • Silverado Trail
  • Feather River Scenic Byway
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway
  • Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway
  • Nebo Loop Byway
  • Red Cloud Loop Road
  • Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway
  • Cache LaPoudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway
  • South Platte Trail Scenic and Historic Byway
  • Stagecoach Trail
  • Ohio and Lake Erie Canalway

Day 1

375 mi — about 7 hours, 59 mins

San Francisco to Silverado trail

Continue on the Silverado Trail from San Francisco. The Silverado Trail winds through the Napa Valley wine area on the road created during the gold rush in the 1850s. Discover outstanding wines among rolling hills and mountains on the road less frequented that run parallel to CA-29. Clos du Val, Judd’s Hill, Mumm Napa, Signorello Estate Winery, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars are among the great wineries open for tasting and exploring along the journey. Some vineyards have eating options to enhance your experience. Still, others provide picnic tables, so bring some fresh bread and specialty cheese and relax with a bottle of wine while viewing the breathtaking vistas.

Silverado trail to Feather River Scenic Byway

Transfer from the Silverado Trail to the Feather River Scenic Byway. The Feather River Scenic Byway never disappoints, whether in spring, fall, or winter, with the opportunity to climb across the only pass in the Sierra Nevada range of mountains that stays open. This road follows the Feather River’s north branch over sheer granite cliffs with thousand-foot drops to the river below. As you handle the twists and turns of the route, take advantage of the many picturesque turnouts to take in the stunning view. This scenic trip provides insight into the wood, mining, and railroad operations that have shaped this region’s history, along with natural beauty and diverse topography. Stop in Cromberg, CA, to round up your first day of driving.

Day 2

382 mi — about 7 hours, 53 mins

Feather River Scenic Byway to Lake Tahoe

Follow CA 89 from the Feather River Scenic Byway to Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is noted for its crystal clear water, surrounded by the craggy peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Carson Ranges. Lake Tahoe is the world’s tenth deepest lake and the second deepest in the United States. Hiking, biking, golf, various water activities and winter sports, as well as excellent shopping, dining, and relaxing, are all available among breathtaking natural beauty. This drive begins in South Lake Tahoe and travels clockwise around the lake, but you may do it either way. Take a break from the main road and stop in South Lake Tahoe.

Day 3

461 mi — about 7 hours, 53 mins

Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway

Continue to Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway on Day 3. Pyramid Lake’s magnificent blue-green waters are an oasis in Nevada’s barren terrain. The lake, surrounded by mountains and intriguing natural tufa rock formations, is a remnant of an ancient sea that originally blanketed Nevada. Pyramid Lake is geologically significant because it is a sink for the Great Basin, North America’s most fantastic contiguous expanse of watersheds.

Take NV-445 north from Reno. The route will ascend the Virginia Mountains until it reaches Mullen Pass when it will begin its descent to Pyramid Lake. Please take advantage of the pullouts to appreciate the breathtaking views and the 400-foot-tall pyramid-shaped rock that gave the lake its name.

 Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway to Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

Day 3 concludes with a drive to Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway. The Lamoille Canyon is situated among the Ruby Mountains and was formed by glaciers during the Ice Age. Because of its U-shaped canyons, valleys, peaks, and year-round snowfields, it is often known to be Nevada’s Yosemite. As you reach the Lamoille Canyon, the Ruby Mountains dominate the vista. The natural wilderness has breathtaking landscapes, waterfalls, and wildlife. Stop in Spring Creek, along the main road to New York.

Day 4

491 mi — about 7 hours, 59 mins

Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway to Nebo Loop Byway

Continue to Nebo Loop Byway after passing via Forest Road 015. The road is ideal for a Salt Lake City day trip. This short, twisting road with hairpin twists provides fantastic views of the Wasatch Range and its tallest peak, 11,929-foot Mt. Nebo. On the same day, you can see flat bottomlands, high-alpine conifers, red rock formations, gray sandstone cliffs, and salt flats. Devil’s Kitchen, Walker Flat, and Mt. Nebo Wilderness are among the attractions.

After 3 miles on Salt Creek Canyon Road, you come to a fork. Continue on this route by staying to the right; however, staying to the left will take you to the Bear Canyon Campground and the Nebo Bench Trailhead. The Nebo Bench Trail ascends through the Mount Nebo Wilderness before reaching Mount Nebo’s peak at 11,928 feet. The trail is 8.5 miles long, but a 2-mile stroll is ideal for a day excursion. You can deviate from the main route by stopping in Roosevelt, Utah.

Day 5

443 mi — about 8 hours, 9 mins

Nebo Loop Byway to Red Cloud Loop Road

Day 5 takes you to the Red Cloud circle road. With towering mountains, sandstone cliffs, steep canyons, animals, and sacred Indian petroglyphs, this picturesque side excursion travels partially on the gravel road from Maeser to 17 miles north of Vernal on US-191. You can reach Maeser by taking UT-121 west from either US-191 or US-40. When you reach Maeser, take 3500 West Street north for 3 miles, which will become Canyon when you enter the Canyon.

Red Cloud Loop Road to Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway

Experience history from the Jurassic period to early explorers, homesteaders, and cowboys while surrounded by magnificent, panoramic postcard-worthy scenery on “the drive through the ages.” The Blazing Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway, which runs through the Ashley National Forest, offers a variety of terrain, including deserts, aspen forests, and the Canyon’s jagged flaming red cliffs. You can also visit the Dinosaur National Monument (Utah). It was designated a National Monument in 1915 and is one of the world’s most abundant sources of dinosaur bones.

Day 6

343 mi — about 8 hours, 7 mins

Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway to Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway

On the sixth day, go to the Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway. Traveling through the Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway from Fort Collins to Walden will feel like you’re driving through a postcard. Take in the spectacular views with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore, surrounded by jaw-dropping craggy mountains, spacious meadows, lodgepole forest, and shimmering lakes. This location has it all, whether you prefer hiking, fishing, white-water rafting, geocaching, animal viewing, bicycling, OHV driving, or simply resting and enjoying the glacier-formed landscape cut by the Cache la Poudre River. Skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling are all popular winter activities.

Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway to Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park contains approximately 110 peaks above 10,000 feet, with more than half exceeding 12,000 feet. Enjoy boundless snowy peaks, verdant valleys, hundreds of lakes, and wild weather; the longest continuous mountain road in the United States, Trail Ridge Road, will take you to an elevation of 12,183 feet. The route took three years to construct and opened in 1932.

Rocky Mountain National Park to Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway

Still on day 6 is Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway. Colorado is famed for its 14-ers, with 54 mountains rising beyond 14,000 feet, which is why this byway is so unique. Explore a stunningly unusual scene, one of the country’s last remaining short grass plains. The vast expanses appear barren at first glance, but they come with species such as coyotes, mule deer, prairie dogs, and raptors. A diverse range of textures comes from over 400 plant species, including cottonwood trees, prickly-pear cactus, soaptree yuccas, and wildflowers. Stop at Grover, CO, after such a long day.

Day 7

510 mi — about 8 hours, 2 mins

Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway to South Platte Trail Scenic and Historic Byway

This 19-mile loop along the Nebraska border follows the South Platte River from Julesburg to Ovid and back. This ancient path was well-traveled by traders, gold seekers, and fur trappers seeking their fortunes in the west. Explore Julesburg before or after starting the byway. Despite its tiny size and scarce population, the town has housing, restaurants, services, museums, a golf course, and antique shops. At the Hippodrome Arts Center, you can see a movie or see a show. Stop in Omaha, Nebraska

Day 8

488 mi — about 7 hours, 59 mins

South Platte Trail Scenic and Historic Byway to Stagecoach Trail

This scenic trip connects Galena and Lena along the Stagecoach Trail, built in the mid-1830s to connect Galena and Chicago. Today, motorcyclists particularly like the gently winding and uphill two-lane road, which goes through attractive, ancient towns and idyllic dairy country. The route is only 2.5 hours from Chicago and only a hop, skip, and a jump from Dubuque, making it an ideal day trip or weekend escape. Galena is a colorful blend of history and modern conveniences. Explore the historic main streets, which feature Victorian-era architecture, art galleries, antique shops, award-winning food, and local wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries. You can spend a day off the main road in Elburn.

Day 9

465 mi — about 7 hours, 54 mins

Stagecoach Trail to Ohio and Lake Erie Canal way

Traveling through the Ohio and Erie Canalway, a National Heritage Area, illustrates its history as a critical link to the expansion of Ohio and the nation’s development. The 308-mile waterway connected Lake Erie to the Ohio River and established a major national transportation route in the 1820s and 1830s. Enjoy a variety of state parks, Cuyahoga National Park, wineries, historic buildings, and natural beauty as you walk or cycle along the 100-mile Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. The drive offers a mix of significant city dynamism, lovely towns, and numerous possibilities to get out and explore.

Ohio and Lake Erie Canalway to New York, NY

You can’t leave the Ohio and Lake Erie Canal without visiting the Canal Exploration Center near Lock 38 for regional and historical information. Interactive exhibits transport you back through time to see the canal through the eyes of the people who built, worked, and lived along it. The famous 100-mile Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail for walking, running, biking and horseback riding runs through the park’s core, connecting numerous historic sites, other nature paths, and communities.

Now proceed to New York, the “city that never sleeps,” as the saying goes. The journey begins with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, followed by a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry for spectacular views of both. If you are in New York for an extended period, do not forget to see the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Canandaigua Lake, New York Harbor, Montauk, and Lake George, among other places.

Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Times Square, followed by the unmatched splendor of a Broadway musical – both experiences available only in New York. Visit Rockefeller Center and climb to the pinnacle of the Empire State Building. Experience Grand Central Terminal, the city’s principal transportation hub and a one-of-a-kind architectural marvel. You will undoubtedly enjoy your time in New York.

FAQs

Cruise from San Francisco to New York

You can take a cruise from San Francisco to New York, but it will take significantly longer than driving. The journey takes about two weeks, so you must plan accordingly.

What is the best time of year to drive from San Francisco to New York?

The best time of year to drive from San Francisco to New York is in the fall, when the leaves change color. The weather is also pleasant at this time of year.

What is the cheapest way to drive from San Francisco to New York?

The cheapest way to drive from San Francisco to New York is by taking advantage of gas prices, typically lower in the summer months. You can also save money by carpooling, public transportation, or flying into a nearby airport.

What are some things to do along the way?

Some things to do along the way including visiting the Grand Canyon, hiking in Yosemite National Park, exploring Las Vegas , and visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Flight time from San Francisco to New York

The flight time from San Francisco to New York is about six hours.

How far is it from San Francisco to New York

The distance from San Francisco to New York is about 2,800 miles/ 4,500 kilometers.

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