Top 10 Scenic Drives in Vermont

With approximately 75% of its landscape covered in forest and being one of the least populated of the United States, Vermont is chock full of unspoiled natural beauty. Where civilization is to be found, it’s not quite like other places, possessing a small-town feel and friendliness that is infectious in its warm feeling. With so much scenic potential in such a small area, it can be hard to decide where to begin touring this pristine region. Spend less time planning and more time exploring by choosing one of our favorite Vermont scenic drives as a starting point to know this great state.

No. 10 – Green Mountains

Green Mountains Vermont
Flickr user: SnapsterMax

Starting Location: Waterbury, VT
Ending Location: Stowe, VT
Length: 10 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

Although several of our scenic drives go through portions of the Green Mountains, this route is all about showcasing this small yet majestic range with views of the Worchester Range to the east as well. In amongst the changes of elevation and peaks, vast meadows and rural farmlands can be found. Moss Glen Falls is a popular stop for picnics and nature trails, and Mount Mansfield – Vermont’s highest mountain – provides some nice photo opportunities.

No. 9 – Northeast Kingdom Byway

Northeast Kingdom Byway Vermont
Flickr user: Sayamindu Dasgupta

Starting Location: St Johnsbury, VT
Ending Location: Derby, VT
Length: 57 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This scenic route through the Northeast kingdom showcases the beauty of simplicity. You can start with the Main Street in St. Johnsbury, lined with Victorian Homes and known for it’s vibrant arts, travel north past Lake Willoughby, where you can enjoy the serene untouched beauty of the water, and end up in Newport, a lively community that sits on the shore of  Lake Memphremagog. When passing through Derby, make sure to stop by the Haskell Opera House which straddles the US/Canadian Border.

No. 8 – Shires of Vermont

Shires of Vermont Vermont
Flickr user: Albert de Bruijn

Starting Location: Pownal, VT
Ending Location: Manchester, VT
Length: 30 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

This region tucked between the Taconic and Green Mountains and known as The Shires bridges the northern portion of the state with the southern region. This is the same area that inspired the likes of Ethan Allen, Robert Frost, and Norman Rockwell, and there is an undeniable feeling of community. Lake Shaftsbury State Park provides a nice respite from peering into the lives of villagers with kayaking, nature trails, and a developed beach area.

No. 7 – Molly Stark Byway

Molly Stark Byway Vermont
Flickr user: James Walsh

Starting Location: Brattleboro, VT
Ending Location: Benington, VT
Length: 40 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Named for the General Stark who led Colonial troops home after a major Revolutionary War victory at the Battle of Bennington, this drive has access to several historical sites and small museums that illustrate tales from that time. With lowland valleys and bits of the Green Mountain National Forest, the drive is as full of natural beauty as it is of history. Don’t miss a visit to Woodford, the highest village in the state at 2,215 feet above sea level.

No. 6 – Stone Valley Byway

Stone Valley Byway Vermont
Flickr user: Ben Saren

Starting Location: Manchester, VT
Ending Location: Hubbardton, VT
Length: 43 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

The Stone Valley Byway highlights the history of slate and marble production in the state as mountain silhouettes dance along the horizon. With deposits from the Mettawee and Poultney Rivers in the region, the soil is particularly fertile, explaining the proliferate farms. Chances for boating, fishing and hiking about near Lake Bomoseen and Lake St. Catherine State Parks.

No. 5 – Mad River Byway

Mad River Byway
Flickr user: Céline Colin

Starting Location: Middlesex, VT
Ending Location: Buels Gore VT
Length: 46 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

This drive through the Mad River Valley winds along not just with the river but atop mountain ridges and through classic New England rural towns. From covered bridges to steepled villages, all of the region’s subdued magnetism can be experienced. If the need to exercise your legs hits, take advantage of the greenway network of paths and trails known as the Mad River Path.

No. 4 – The Crossroad of Vermont Byway

The Crossroad of Vermont Byway Vermont
Flickr user: Kent McFarland

Starting Location: Rutland, VT
Ending Location: Hartford, VT
Length: 41 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

With much of this trip spent crossing the Green Mountains, travelers should expect panoramic views and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Ottauquechee River is known as a good spot to throw a hook and line, and you can even stop to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The route also passes through several charming towns and villages that blend hints of the past with the present.

No. 3 – Vermont 22A

Vermont 22A
Flickr user: Joey Lax-Salinas

Starting Location: Vergennes, VT
Ending Location: Fair Haven, VT
Length: 42 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
Find this drive on Google Maps

This route through the Lake Champlain Valley is full of rolling green hills, distant mountain views, and rural farmlands – the makings for a relaxing and restorative drive. Mount Philo State Park is a favorite among birdwatchers due to frequent hawk sightings. Button Bay State Park appeals to just about everyone with plenty of water recreation opportunities, such as rowboat and kayak rentals.

No. 2 – Vermont 100

Vermont 100
Flickr user: Frank Monaldo

Starting Location: Wilmington, VT
Ending Location: Newport, VT
Length: 189 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Also known as Vermont’s Main Street, Highway 100 showcases classic New England charm with plenty of white-steeple churches and dairy farms nestled in mountain valleys. In the Green Mountain National Forest during the summer, visitors can take a gondola to the top of Stratton for panoramic views of the region. No matter the time of year, travelers can stop and enjoy the capital city of Montpelier, which teems with small-town allure and lovely scenes.

No.1 – Champlain Islands

Champlain Islands Vermont
Flickr user: Danny Fowler

Starting Location: Colchester, VT
Ending Location: Alburg, VT
Length: 44 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring
See this drive on Google Maps

Island-jumping in the middle of Lake Champlain, this scenic drive is delightfully unusual with all of its bridge action and sweeping water views. On North Hero Island, be sure to stop at Knights Point State Park, where picnic areas with the Adirondacks and Green Mountains are in view on the horizon. There, you can even charter a water taxi to the unspoiled Knight Island State Park where you can camp beneath the stars when the weather is nice.

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