Here are 8 of the most epic drives across the U.S.
Hit the road on these cross-country quests by bike, truck, or station wagon.

DRIVING ACROSS THE U.S. is a dream for many travelers. There are countless ways to do it, and each route is rewarding in its own way. Photographer Gately Williams has made the drive 18 times. He’s journeyed by station wagon and dirt bike, convertible and hot-pink two-wheeler. During this time he’s visited all 50 states. What inspires him to keep crossing the country? “Setting out on a journey is a liberating experience,” says Williams, 34, who is based in Charleston, South Carolina. “A road trip is bigger than just the drive or the ride. The people I’ve met along the way have quickly become more of a destination than the town they live in.” The beauty of the American road never fails to enchant him, no matter how many cross-country trips he completes. “The more I saw,” he says, “the more I realized there was to see.” Here are highlights from some of Williams’s most memorable journeys. Take his tips, plan your own road trip, and see America this summer.
scroll down to see trips
Around the U.S. in a station wagon

Seattle

WA

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mt

nd

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id

oh

il

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in

wv

co

va

ca

ky

nc

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Los Angeles

start

nm

az

ga

ms

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Charleston

tx

la

fl

MILES
25,000
DAYS
210
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
In April 2014, Williams bought an old station wagon and set out to photograph every state. He crisscrossed the U.S. several times and flew to Alaska and Hawaii to complete the quest.
scroll down
On a dirt bike along the TransAmerica Trail

Port Orford

or

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ut

co

nc

tn

sc

ok

nm

start

ar

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Charleston

MILES
5,000
DAYS
30
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
Williams and four friends rode dirt bikes along the TransAmerica Trail in 2016. The 5,000-mile route created in 1984 for motorcycles and 4x4 vehicles stretches along public paths and is mostly off-road.
Racing from Oregon to Virginia on a BICYCLE

start

Astoria

mt

or

id

wy

il

co

ks

mo

ky

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Yorktown

MILES
4,300
DAYS
30
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
In June 2018, Williams participated in the fifth-annual Trans Am Bike Race. The self-supported road race travels the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail (not to be confused with the TransAmerica off-road trail).
Lakes and lonely roads in a jeep

or

id

Jackson

wy

nv

start

ut

San Francisco

ca

MILES
2,478
DAYS
10
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
Before starting a job in San Francisco in 2014, Williams embarked on a looping western drive across California and Nevada to Jackson, Wyoming, and then through Idaho and Oregon on the way back.
Long way to Montana in a Pickup truck

Sandpoint

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wy

ia

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co

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ky

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nc

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Charleston

la

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Houston

MILES
6,262
DAYS
30
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
On his way to a job in Montana in 2015, Williams stopped in Texas to buy a Ducati motorcycle. He stored it in the back of his Ford pickup for the rest of the trip, but he gave it a spin during a stop in Denver.
From pines to prairie in a sedan

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Seattle

WA

or

nv

ca

Santa Fe

ok

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Charleston

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MILES
4,543
DAYS
5
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
Williams helped a friend move across the country in 2016, driving a car from Seattle to Charleston. “This was a fast trip,” Williams says. “I blasted across country in five days.”
To San Diego in a moving van

ca

San Diego

sc

start

al

nm

az

ms

tx

ga

Charleston

la

Austin

MILES
2,700
DAYS
7
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
In 2009, Williams volunteered to help a neighbor drive a rental moving van transporting their belongings from Charleston to a new home in San Diego. He flew home after the drive.
Along the California coast in a Convertible

start

San Francisco

ca

Los Angeles

MILES
450
DAYS
5
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
On an annual trip with a friend in 2015, Williams rented a Ford Mustang convertible. The duo made their way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, stopping at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur to bathe in its hot springs.
maps and graphics: Oscar A. Santamarina, Riley D. Champine, Taylor Maggiacomo, NG STAFF. text: Amy Alipio, NG STAFF. photos: Jeff Heimsath, NG STAFF
Pages 1-5: Photographs by Gately Williams; Page 6: Photograph by christiannafzger, Getty Images; Page 7: Photograph by Gately Williams; Page 8: Photograph by Gary Weathers, Getty Images; Pages 9-11: Photographs by Gately Williams; Page 12: Photograph by bertiadiphoto, Getty Images; Page 13: Photograph by Gately Williams; Page 14: Photograph by Mark Williamson, Getty Images; Page 15: Photograph by Gately Williams; Page 16: Photograph by Kylie McLaughlin, Getty Images; Page 17: Photograph by Ed Freeman, Getty Images; Page 18: Photograph by Chris Axe, Getty Images
Here are 8 of the most epic drives across the U.S.
Hit the road on these cross-country quests by bike, truck, or station wagon.

DRIVING ACROSS THE U.S. is a dream for many travelers. There are countless ways to do it, and each route is rewarding in its own way. Photographer Gately Williams has made the drive 18 times. He’s journeyed by station wagon and dirt bike, convertible and hot-pink two-wheeler. During this time he’s visited all 50 states. What inspires him to keep crossing the country? “Setting out on a journey is a liberating experience,” says Williams, 34, who is based in Charleston, South Carolina. “A road trip is bigger than just the drive or the ride. The people I’ve met along the way have quickly become more of a destination than the town they live in.” The beauty of the American road never fails to enchant him, no matter how many cross-country trips he completes. “The more I saw,” he says, “the more I realized there was to see.” Here are highlights from some of Williams’s most memorable journeys. Take his tips, plan your own road trip, and see America this summer.
Around the U.S. in a STATION WAGON

Seattle

WA

mn

mt

nd

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id

oh

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in

ut

co

wv

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ca

ky

nc

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start

az

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Los Angeles

ms

ga

al

tx

la

Charleston

fl

Seattle

WA

mn

mt

nd

or

wi

id

oh

il

ut

in

wv

co

va

ca

ky

nc

tn

sc

start

Los Angeles

nm

az

ga

ms

al

Charleston

tx

la

fl

Seattle

WA

mn

mt

nd

or

wi

id

oh

il

ut

in

wv

co

va

ca

ky

nc

tn

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Los Angeles

start

nm

az

ga

ms

al

Charleston

tx

la

fl

MILES
25,000
DAYS
210
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
In April 2014, Williams bought an old station wagon and set out to photograph every state. He crisscrossed the U.S. several times and flew to Alaska and Hawaii to complete the quest.
Hightlight | Tip
Rainbow Pools, Groveland, CA. This natural swimming hole off Highway 120, outside of Yosemite National Park, is edged by rocky ledges—perfect jumping-off points for cannonballs into the water. | California State Parks are very popular in the summer. Book ahead to reserve a spot if you’re planning to camp.

On a DIRT BIKE along the TransAmerica Trail

Port Orford

id

or

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co

nc

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start

sc

ok

nm

ar

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Charleston

Port Orford

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ut

co

nc

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start

ok

nm

ar

ms

Charleston

Port Orford

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id

ut

co

nc

tn

sc

ok

nm

start

ar

ms

Charleston

MILES
5,000
DAYS
30
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
Williams and four friends rode dirt bikes along the TransAmerica Trail in 2016. The 5,000-mile route created in 1984 for motorcycles and 4x4 vehicles stretches along public paths and is mostly off-road.
Hightlight | Tip
Antelope Pass, Idaho. “Idaho feels like a secret,” says Williams. “The mountain passes look like those in Colorado but with more color and less people.” | Take a look at the map and see where you are in relation to other towns you may have heard of. “I found myself in the little town of Hailey, Idaho, but until I scanned the map I didn’t realize how close it was to Sun Valley, a place I had long heard of,” says Williams.

Racing from Oregon to Virginia on a PINK BIKE

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Astoria

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id

wy

Yorktown

il

co

ks

ky

mo

va

start

Astoria

mt

or

id

wy

il

co

ks

mo

ky

va

Yorktown

start

Astoria

mt

or

id

wy

il

co

ks

mo

ky

va

Yorktown

MILES
4,300
DAYS
30
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
In June 2018, Williams participated in the fifth-annual Trans Am Bike Race. The self-supported road race travels the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail (not to be confused with the TransAmerica off-road trail).
Hightlight | Tip
Antler’s Saloon, in Wisdom, Montana. After a bad fall from his bike outside of this small town (pop. about 100), Williams found help, hospitality, cold beer, and good pizza here. | Skip the interstate in Wyoming and explore the state via more interesting backcountry roads.

Lakes and lonely roads in a jeep

or

id

Jackson

start

wy

ut

nv

San Francisco

ca

or

id

Jackson

start

wy

nv

ut

San Francisco

ca

or

id

Jackson

wy

nv

start

ut

San Francisco

ca

MILES
2,478
DAYS
10
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
Before starting a job in San Francisco in 2014, Williams embarked on a looping western drive across California and Nevada to Jackson, Wyoming, and then through Idaho and Oregon on the way back.
Hightlight | Tip
Nevada’s Route 50, “The Loneliest Road in America.” | Drive Route 50 at night to be able to see the wealth of vintage neon along the road. The town of Ely has classic signs, like the one at El Rancho Motel.

Long way to Montana in a PICKUP TRUCK

Sandpoint

mt

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id

wy

ia

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il

co

ks

ky

mo

nc

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ok

sc

nm

al

ms

ga

la

Charleston

tx

Houston

Sandpoint

mt

sd

id

wy

ia

ne

il

co

ks

ky

mo

nc

tn

ok

sc

start

nm

al

ms

ga

Charleston

la

tx

Houston

Sandpoint

mt

sd

id

wy

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ne

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co

ks

ky

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nc

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ok

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start

nm

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Charleston

la

tx

Houston

MILES
6,262
DAYS
30
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
On his way to a job in Montana in 2015, Williams stopped in Texas to buy a Ducati motorcycle. He stored it in the back of his Ford pickup for the rest of the trip, but he gave it a spin during a stop in Denver.
Hightlight | Tip
Pikes Peak Highway, Colorado. Every year since 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb—aka the “Race to the Clouds”—has taken place on this route. Cars and motorcycles climb 13 miles to the summit. “It was pretty cool to ride the same route and look across and down from 14,000 feet,” says Williams. | “While taking the back roads, you often come upon some interesting old motels,” says Williams. “They are either lovingly cared for or extremely outdated. Either way it’s an experience. But always have a camp sleeping pad, inflatable pillow, and sleeping bag in your car in case you need to sleep inside or near your vehicle.”

From pines to prairie in a SEDAN

start

WA

Seattle

or

nv

ca

Santa Fe

ok

sc

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nm

ar

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Charleston

tx

start

Seattle

WA

or

nv

ca

Santa Fe

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Charleston

tx

start

Seattle

WA

or

nv

ca

Santa Fe

ok

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az

ar

nm

ga

ms

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Charleston

tx

MILES
4,543
DAYS
5
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
Williams helped a friend move across the country in 2016, driving a car from Seattle to Charleston. “This was a fast trip,” Williams says. “I blasted across country in five days.”
Hightlight | Tip
The 190-foot-tall Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries outside of Amarillo, Texas. “It towers above the empty, windswept plains below,” says Williams. “Its size is quite impactful.” | Oklahoma is long, wide, and straight. For variety, you might want to plan your route farther south and pass through Texas.

To San Diego in a MOVING VAN

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San Diego

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Charleston

Austin

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San Diego

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Charleston

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Austin

ca

San Diego

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al

nm

az

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tx

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Charleston

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Austin

MILES
2,700
DAYS
7
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
In 2009, Williams volunteered to help a neighbor drive a rental moving van transporting their belongings from Charleston to a new home in San Diego. He flew home after the drive.
Hightlight | Tip
New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a must-visit, but don’t spend too much time on Bourbon Street. Instead head to the nearby East Riverside neighborhood, where hip restaurants (and fewer people) line Magazine Street. | If you’re on a long trip, build in time for a day off occasionally. Do research on the destination ahead of time but don’t forget to ask the locals where to get your nightcap.

Along the California coast in a CONVERTIBLE

start

San Francisco

ca

Los Angeles

start

San Francisco

ca

Los Angeles

start

San Francisco

ca

Los Angeles

MILES
450
DAYS
5
TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW
On an annual trip with a friend in 2015, Williams rented a Ford Mustang convertible. The duo made their way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, stopping at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur to bathe in its hot springs.
Hightlight | Tip
Big Sur. Bixby Creek Bridge on Highway 1 stands as the gateway to this unforgettable section of central California. The bridge is about 120 miles south of San Francisco. | Be sure to stay on the coast road, Highway 1, all the way down. (Not Interstate 5 or US Route 101.)

maps and graphics: Oscar A. Santamarina, Riley D. Champine, Taylor Maggiacomo, NG STAFF. text: Amy Alipio, NG STAFF. photos: Jeff Heimsath, NG STAFF
From Top to Bottom: PHOTOGRAPH BY GATELY WILLIAMS; PHOTOGRAPH BY GATELY WILLIAMS; PHOTOGRAPH BY GATELY WILLIAMS; PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTIANNAFZGER, GETTY IMAGES; PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY WEATHERS, GETTY IMAGES; PHOTOGRAPH BY GATELY WILLIAMS; PHOTOGRAPH BY BERTIADIPHOTO, GETTY IMAGES; PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK WILLIAMSON, GETTY IMAGES; PHOTOGRAPH BY KYLIE MCLAUGHLIN, GETTY IMAGES; PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS AXE, GETTY IMAGES