California cool: four of the best road trips

As a state, California appears to be made for road trips. We check out four of the best routes to get you started.

By Julia Buckley
Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:59 BST
Alabama Hills, California
Alabama Hills, California.
Photograph by Getty Images

Mulholland Drive
This legendary LA road is a sightseer’s paradise, offering iconic views that span the Hollywood Sign to Downtown’s skyscrapers, the Valley, and even the Pacific on a clear day. The ribbon of tarmac wiggles its way through the eastern Santa Monica Mountains for 21 miles heading west above the Hollywood Bowl along canyons and cliffs to Bel Air, at which point it turns into a dirt road, complete with a Cold War-era missile site, which can be visited by car. Thereafter, Mulholland Drive is pedestrian-only until it gets to Calabasas, whereupon it becomes the epic Mulholland Highway.

Highway 1
Last summer, the most famous stretch of America’s most famous road reopened after a 14-month closure due to a landslide. Highway 1 heads up the coast, past Hearst Castle, mountainous Big Sur and family-friendly Monterey. Don’t miss Big Basin Redwoods State Park on the final stretch to San Francisco.

Rim of the World
Sweeping panoramas, glittering lakes and giant trees are on offer along this majestic 117-mile stretch of Highway 18 as it snakes around the San Bernardino Mountains. Stop-offs include: Big Bear Lake; Heaps Peak Arboretum, with its sequoia-filled walking trail; and Keller Peak Fire Lookout, a mountain-top tower with mind-blowing views from the desert to the ocean.

Tahoe to Yosemite
Summer is the time to drive Highway 395 from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite. You’ll need a couple of days to take in stops including the eerie, semi-submerged rock towers at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, mountain-flanked Mammoth Lakes, and the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, the location for Westerns including High Sierra and Bad Day at Black Rock.

Published in the March 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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