Vermont has some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery in the world, from its picturesque and historic villages to its soaring mountains and sweeping fields. If you are thinking about taking a road trip Vermont is the perfect destination to choose, with numerous scenic routes where every turn of the road reveals another vista to admire.
This is particularly true in the fall when the brightly colored foliage looks almost too beautiful to be real.
This list of Vermont road trip ideas focuses on the very best routes to take and just what makes them so special.
Lincoln Gap Road
Whereas many of the best scenic drives in Vermont can be too overcrowded for comfort, this road that runs from the town of Lincoln to Warren is rarely busy but is exceptionally beautiful. Accessible from either the western side in Lincoln or the eastern side a little to the south of Warren, the road is well paved but fairly steep, with a few hairpin turns.
There is plenty of parking at the top and access to the Long Trail, not to mention the sweeping views that the elevation of almost 2,500 feet provides! For the very best views head to the western parking lot.
One of the most popular scenic drives in Vermont, Highway 100 runs almost the entire length of the state. There are so many things to enjoy along this route, from scenic villages and waterfalls to the majesty of the Green Mountain National Forest. The views of the mountains at sunset are particularly awesome and there are numerous interesting spots to stop along the route.
Be sure to pay a visit to the picturesque and historic Weston, which is like taking a step back in time, or the lovely town of Waitsfield which has one of Vermont’s oldest covered bridges.
Stowe Mountain Auto Toll Road
This 150-year-old toll road is among the most scenic routes in Vermont – a 4.5 miles long gravel road with a car park at its peak elevation of 3,850 feet.
Open between May and October every year and not for the faint-hearted, this is a somewhat challenging drive, with a route that is very narrow in places and with no guard rails. Yet the rewards are worth it, with natural beauty unfolding at every turn, including views of Lake Champlain, the White Mountains, the Adirondacks, and the Green Mountains.
It takes just 20 minutes to reach the top and enjoy stunning, panoramic views of New England.
Stone Valley Scenic Byway
One of the best scenic drives in Vermont is undoubtedly this segment of Route 30, running from Manchester to Poultney. Passing through the low mountains of the Green Mountain range, this is the quintessential country drive, giving you views of quaint farmhouses and farmland, along with one of Vermont’s most beautiful lakes – Lake Saint Catherine.
Just under 30 miles long, the route is also dotted with smaller bodies of water and lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including picnicking, boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, and golfing.
Molly Stark Byway
Designated a Scenic Byway by the state of Vermont, this road is otherwise known as Route 9 and runs right across Southern Vermont. It links historic Bennington to Brattleboro, passing its way through quaint villages, lowland valleys, and bustling downtowns, with the jewel in its crown being the Green Mountain National Forest.
Just under 50 miles long, it affords especially magnificent views from the Hogback Mountain Scenic Lookout, which faces Southern Vermont. On a clear day, it provides amazing views of Massachusetts, just 20 miles away. Set in an area with lots of history and a strong cultural identity, there are also plenty of museums and galleries to enjoy along the way.
Lake Champlain Byway
The Lake Champlain Byway runs 185 miles south from the Canadian border along the northern length of Lake Champlain. Popular as one of the most scenic drives in Vermont, it makes its way through 22 communities.
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Affording views ranging from scenic villages to bustling towns, best of all is the opportunity it gives you to admire Lake Champlain in all its natural beauty. There are numerous valley trails for hiking or cycling and plenty of activities to enjoy on the lake itself all your round.
If you are looking for Vermont road trip ideas, then the 176 mile Route 7 is a great choice. This north-south 2 lane rural highway from Burlington to Bennington is most popular for its stunning views of Lake Champlain, plus the many farms and sweeping fields that dot its valleys.
On a summer’s drive, be sure to stop for a break at Emerald Lake State Park which is immediately adjacent to the road and enjoy the cooling, deep blue waters. Another ‘must see’ stop is the popular Dakin Farm, which specializes in pure Vermont maple syrup and other fine local foods.
Mount Equinox Skyline Drive
The longest privately owned paved toll road in the USA, the 5.2-mile Skyline Drive takes you along the crest of Mount Equinox. It is one of the most scenic routes in Vermont, winding its way to a maximum elevation of 3,248 feet and giving you unparalleled views of The Green Mountains; The Valley of Vermont; and New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the east, and New York’s Adirondack Mountains to the west.
One of the safest toll roads in the US, guard rails run along its entirety and there are several paved parking areas to simply stop and admire the stunning scenery surrounding you. The Saint Bruno Scenic Viewing Center gives the best views of all, along with information about the mountain itself and the cloistered order of Carthusian Monks who own it.
Mad River Byway
The Mad River Byway is one of the shortest scenic drives in Vermont, but its two roads – Routes 100 and 100B – wind their way through a landscape rich in beauty.
You can take in mountain forests, the rushing river, farms clinging to the hillsides, and quaint little villages with their pretty church steeples. The area’s architecture and memorials are testaments to its varied and interesting past, with the historic Mad River Glen ski area marking the beginnings of downhill skiing in the region.
You can also access America’s oldest long-distance hiking trail – the Long Trail – here.
Route 313 to Sandgate Road
Around 14 miles in length, and one of the lesser-known scenic drives in Vermont, this route gives you spectacular views of the Green Mountains and takes you behind Equinox mountain – a uniquely beautiful aspect.
Surrounded by fields and forest leading to the Battenkill River, this is a great area to see local wildlife. But there are other great attractions too, from the historic Arlington Covered Bridge to the 5-mile trail to Peaked Rock.
Whether you want to get away from it all and soak up the serenity of the state’s natural beauty, or are looking to explore the many towns and villages dotted throughout, these scenic drives in Vermont will enable you to see the very best of this beautiful part of the world.