Top 10 Scenic Drives in Indiana

Indiana may be known for its sporting events like pro football games and the Indy 500, but there’s far more to see in this state than the games and big cities like Indianapolis. There’s a reason why this state is known as the Crossroads of America – many cultures and terrains merge here, making it unlike any other place on earth. From sleepy rural towns to excitingly fast river action, a good time can be had on a leisurely drive like the ones listed here when you take time to stop and smell the peonies, Indiana’s state flower.

No. 10 – Salt Creek Lick Road

Salt Creek Lick Road Indiana
Flickr user: Kyle Pearson

Starting Location: Nineveh, IN
Ending Location: Gnaw Bone, IN
Length: 18 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Although Salt Creek Road is paved, don’t expect the roads that turn off of it to be anything but gravel on this route through a very rural part of Indiana. When it comes to visual appeal, however, travelers are delighted by the frequent sights of old general stores, old family farms, and the like. Bargain hunters will especially enjoy a stop in the oddly named Gnaw Bone, which is home to three flea markets.

No. 9 – South Nineveh Road

South Nineveh Road Indiana
Flickr user: J. Stephen Conn

Starting Location: Franklin, IN
Ending Location: Nashville, IN
Length: 28 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

There may be faster routes on interstate between the towns of Franklin and Nashville, but there isn’t one with better scenery than the one on South Nineveh Road. Wind leisurely through Indiana’s countryside, full of tree-lined portions and eye-appealing farmlands. Once in Nashville, take time to browse the many artist galleries and shops for unusual treasures.

No. 8 – Indiana SR450

Indiana SR450 Indiana
Flickr user: Adam Schweigert

Starting Location: Bedford, IN
Ending Location: Shoals, IN
Length: 28 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This route snakes along the northern side of the White River, affording plenty of water views and chances to fish for trout or just cool off with a swim. Don’t miss the photo opportunities in Shoals at Jug Rock, the biggest free-standing table rock formation east of the Mississippi River. Near Williams lies a covered bridge by the dam, and the hiking in Indian Springs is first-rate.

No. 7 – Motorcycle Madness

Motorcycle Madness Indiana
Flickr user: Joe Flood

Starting Location: Etna Green, IN
Ending Location: Winamac, IN
Length: 47 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This drive largely following Route 10 is a favorite among local motorcycle clubs for weekend rides, and it ends in Etna Green, which in turn ends at Kertings Harley Davidson and Motorcycle Museum in Winamac. Stop over at Bass Lake on the way to stretch legs or take a dip in the warmer months. The two-lane road is mostly straight with an occasional curve and passes through rolling hills and lovely farmlands.

No. 6 – Indiana’s Historic Pathways South Spur

Indiana’s Historic Pathways South Spur
Flickr user: Cathy

Starting Location: Vincennes, IN
Ending Location: Louisville, IN
Length: 135 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Cutting through the Hoosier National Forest and past numerous sites of historic interest, the South Spur of this scenic drive is a nice way to spend a day and explore the region. Hike some of the many forest trails, and consider checking out Potts Creek Rockshelter Archeological Site, where Archaic, Woodland, and Paleo-Indian Indians once set up camp. In New Albany, the historic downtown is full of specialty shops to browse.

No. 5 – Lincoln Highway

Lincoln Highway Indiana
Flickr user: Joey Lax-Salinas

Starting Location: Dyer, IN
Ending Location: Townley, IN
Length: 188 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Although the entirety of this highway named for our 16th president actually stretches into New York, the Indiana portion provides an ideal way to tour the state for the day or on a weekend trip. Along the way, stop to see one of the still-standing cabin camps, such as Chapman’s Modern Camp in Fort Wayne, which were precursors to motels for travelers. In Ligonier, don’t miss viewing antiquated buildings like the 1889 Ahavas Sholom Temple and the 1930 Luckey Hospital Museum.

No. 4 – Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway

Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway Indiana
Flickr user: Karen Starkey

Starting Location: Lawrenceburg, IN
Ending Location: Hagerstown, IN
Length: 67 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

With spectacular views in autumn with the changing colors of leaves but beautiful throughout the year, this route that periodically follows the Ohio River is characterized by rolling hills and tiny towns. Opportunities for water recreation abound in Brookville, where the East and West Forks of the Whitewater River meet. Cambridge City is another popular break in the journey due to the array of antique shops to explore there.

No. 3 – Ohio River Scenic Byway

Ohio River Scenic Byway Indiana
Flickr user: Joey Lax-Salinas

Starting Location: Clarksville, IN
Ending Location: Greendale, IN
Length: 92 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This journey alongside the Ohio River goes through a rural portion of the state, full of farmlands and outdoor adventures. In Louisville, don’t miss the opportunity to canoe to Falls of the Ohio State Park, the site of 390-million-year-old fossil beds. In Rising Sun, a zipline tour through the tops of trees should get the heart rates of any participants up and going.

No. 2 – Historic National Road

Historic National Road Indiana
Flickr user: Daniel McLean

Starting Location: Terre Haute, IN
Ending Location: Richmond, IN
Length: 152 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This portion of the Historic National Road that spans between Vandalia, Illinois and Cumberland, Maryland cuts straight through the heart of Indiana. Stop in the small community of Philadelphia to view its historic buildings, including the Rufus and Amanda Black House, a well-preserved Italianate farmhouse. Just east of Cumberland, peek at the Ron Sanders restored 1800s log cabin, where Henry Ward Beecher is rumored to have stayed.

No. 1 – Indiana’s Historic Pathways North Spur

Indiana’s Historic Pathways North Spur Indiana
Flickr user: Amy V. Miller

Starting Location: Vincennes, IN
Ending Location: Aurora, IN
Length: 163 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

The North Spur of this iconic drive is far longer than its southern relative, crossing across the southern part of the state and passing an array of historic sites. Stop in Seymour to tour the Freeman Field Airfield Museum to beef up on the region’s military and aviation past, including a look at the restored airfield fire engine. In Aurora, near the end of the journey, the Hillford Victorian House Mansion and the Veraestau Historic Site are popular stopovers.

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