CA scenic drives

CCalifornia highways

California Scenic Drives & Back Roads

California Back Roads California Highways California Off-Road Areas California Off-Road Maps Road Maps of California

California's back roads & byways. There is nothing like the diversity of this Golden State, anywhere else in the world. National Forests feature many scenic routes. The roads listed below leads through some of the most breathtaking sites in the West, plus provide access to many recreation areas. Many activities can be enjoyed along these routes. Plan to stop & enjoy many views, picnic or take a small hike.

Coastal Desert Country Mountain City

 Southern California

Angeles Crest Scenic Byway
Route 2
64 miles
2 hour drive
Angeles National Forest
Winds along the spine of the San Gabriel Mountains. Views of Mountain peaks, the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles Basin

Angeles Crest Loop

Take Interstate 210 to La Cananda, exit Hwy.2 North into the Angeles National Forest. Drive approx. 50 miles to Wrightwood. Jackson Lake is also nearby. Horse rentals might be available in the area; check woth the locals. Plenty of picnic grounds & hiking trails around. Stop in town for lunch & relax in this forested retreat. Lodging is available in town.

  • 1 or 2 day trip from Los Angeles area
  • Mountain biking area
  • Loop back to I-15, by taking a right on Hwy.138 & continue down through the Cajon Canyon.
  • recently HWY 2 has been closed due to landslides and are under repair

Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway
Route 33
36.5 miles
1.5 hours drive
Los Padres National Forest
Winds between coastal mountain ranges & the Central Valley, past landscapes of pine forests and semi-desert vegetation.
back road maps

Los Padres Loop

Take Hwy.101 North to Ventura & exit Hwy.33 to Ojai
Stop here for lunch & relax in the quaint downtown area. Lodging is closeby. Backtrack 1 mi. & continue North on Hwy.33 as it winds through Wheeler Gorge & the beautiful landscapes of Los Padres National Forest . Be on the lookout for waterfalls which can be seen off the roadsides even in the driest years.

  • 1 or 2 day trip from Los Angeles area
  • Bike paths run throughout the countryside
  • Option to loop back to I-5, by taking a right on Lockwood Valley Rd. & continuing eastbound.

Pines to Palms Scenic Byway

back road maps Route 74 & 243
67 miles
2.5 hour drive
San Bernardino National Forest
See desert palm and oak, pine and fir forests. The San Jacinto Valley and San Jacinto Mountain peaks are viewed from this byway. Plus the fun lil Idyllwild mountain town.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Route 138,18 & 38
107 miles
3.5 hour drive
San Bernardino National Forest
Following the crest of the San Bernardino Mountains, view spectacular sites, thick forests and autumn colors. Big Bear & Fawnskin.
gorgonio wilderness maps

Big Bear Loop

Take Interstate 215 North to San Bernardino, Exit Hwy. 259 / Hwy.30, take Hwy.18 North into the San Bernardino National Forest
Drive up to Lake Arrowhead. Great place for lunch or even an overnight visit. Plenty of picnic grounds & hiking trails around. Take Hwy.18 over to Big Bear for fun on the lake. Horse rentals area available in the area. Return by taking Hwy.330 down the mountain.

  • 1 or 2 day trip from Los Angeles area
  • Mountain biking area
  • Loop back by taking Hwy.330 to Hwy.30 to I-10

Sunrise National Scenic Byway

Route S1
24 miles
1 hour drive
Cleveland National Forest
Laguna Mountain. meadows and forest with spectacular views of the Anza-Borrego Desert 5,000 feet below on the East.
San Diego mountains map
California Deserts


 Central California

Ancient Bristlecone Scenic Byway
Route 168
52 miles
2 hour drive
Inyo National Forest
Pinyon-Juniper woodlands to the world's oldest living trees, the Bristlecone Pine Forest.

Carson Pass Scenic Byway
Route 88
52 miles
2 hour drive
Eldorado National Forest, Toiyabe National Forest
Travels along alpine forests and meadows, with spectacular views of lakes and mountain peaks, and features volcanic landscapes.

Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
Route 180
50 miles
4 hour drive
Sequoia National Forest
Showcases giant sequoia and Kings Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in North America.

Lee Vining Scenic Byway
Route 120
12 miles
30 min. drive
Inyo National Forest
Climbs through dramatic and rugged Lee Vining Canyon, connecting the Basin landscapes with the high alpine meadow and the Sierra Nevada. Closed in winter.

Side road - at the base of Whitney Portal Rd.

Eastern Sierra map

Eastern Sierra Loop

Take Hwy.14 North to Mojave & then North on Hwy.395 to Bishop, June Lake or even Lee Vining
This area may be getting early season snow, double check road conditions. Backtrack the way you came or try a mountain pass (snow permitting) over toward the San Joaquin Valley, then shoot down I-5 back to L.A.

  • 3 or 4 day trip from Los Angeles area

Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway
Route 168
70 miles
2 hour drive
Sierra National Forest
Runs through the Sierra Nevada landscape of granite walls and domes. Spectacular views of majestic peaks in wilderness areas.

 Northern California

Feather River Scenic Byway
Route 70
130 miles
3.5 hour drive
Plumas National Forest
Steep canyon walls and high mountain valleys, along grasslands, oak woodlands, mixed conifer and high desert chaparral.

Lassen Scenic Byway
Route 89
185 miles
5.5 hour drive time
Lassen National Forest
The northernmost portion of the Sierra Nevada range, the western terminus of the Modoc Plateau/Great Basin and the Lassen National Forest.

Smith River Scenic Byway
Route 199
33 miles
1 hour drive
Six Rivers National Forest
Highlighted by the Smith River, this diverse geological land form hosts redwoods, rhododendrons and other magnificent ecosystems.

State of Jefferson Scenic Byway
Route 96, 263
108 miles
2.5 hour drive
Klamath National Forest, Siskiyou National Forest
Follow along the wild and scenic Klamath River.

Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway
Route 3
120 miles
3.5 hour drive
Shasta-Trinity National Forests Climb 4,500 feet as you follow the path of early miners and settlers.

Trinity River Scenic Byway
Route 299
140 miles
4 hour drive
Shasta-Trinity National Forests
Traverse coastal plains, steep granite cliffs, arid manzanita and digger pine hillsides that parallel the beautiful wild and scenic Trinity River.

Yuba Donner Scenic Byway
Routes 80, 89, 49, 20 & old 40
175 miles
4 hour drive
Tahoe National Forest
Rich with gold-mining and transportation history. Historical and geological diversity.

Check the Backroads Section for real adventure & off-the-beaten path routes.

Search : Lonely Planet Northern California (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Northern California (Travel Guide)'s Price: $13.58
Search : Moon California Camping: The Complete Guide to More Than 1,400 Tent and RV Campgrounds (Moon Outdoors)
Moon California Camping: The Complete Guide to More Than 1,400 Tent and RV Campgrounds (Moon Outdoors)'s Price: $16.97
Search : Lonely Planet Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (Travel Guide)'s Price: $13.59
Search : California Coastal Access Guide
California Coastal Access Guide's Price: $25.89
Search : Moon West Coast RV Camping: The Complete Guide to More Than 2,300 RV Parks and Campgrounds in Washington, Oregon, and California (Moon Outdoors)
Moon West Coast RV Camping: The Complete Guide to More Than 2,300 RV Parks and Campgrounds in Washington, Oregon, and California (Moon Outdoors)'s Price: $16.99

California Weekends
Copyright © 1996-2017 Total Escape, / All Rights Reserved.

home | lodge | recreation | destinations | journey | trips | advertise | site map | outside | maps | gear | mobile


Patagonia Foodie

fly fishing gear

gear deals

sierra trading post


Orion Binoculars Spotting Scopes and More!