A scenic road trip can be more liberating than any other kind of travel and gives a true sense of being wild and free with the ability to go anywhere, any time, at the drop of a hat from the comfort of a vehicle. A popular summer pastime, traveling on the road is one of the best ways to explore a country or continent, opening up a destination's attractions with epic views of all kinds along the way to each one.

Driving through mighty metropolises, captivating countryside, majestic mountain ranges, sandy deserts, and pretty inland and seaside villages are all made possible on a road trip depending on where one chooses, and the beauty to behold on such a journey often involves an amazing contrast in jaw-dropping scenery from start to end.

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Naturally, summer is a favorite road trip season, but those who hit the wheel in winter can marvel at entirely different vistas, and savor a completely unique experience to warmer season road-trippers. With this in mind, these incredible winter road trip routes will break the ice for those seeking a new, chillier, yet rewarding side to road tripping.

8 Southern Scenic Route, New Zealand

Ever watched the Lord of the Rings series? Then it's possible you may have already seen some of this rugged route. At a whopping 380 miles long, this awe-inspiring road trip shows off what mother nature can do when left to do what she does best. On the man-made side, explorers can drive through large cities and picturesque small towns. But in contrast, planet Earth's talent takes over on the route's other parts, showcasing magnificent fjords, staggering mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and deserted beaches far from civilization.

In addition, particular nameable highlights to include on this road itinerary are the underground Milford Sound and Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve where visitors can observe wallabies, lemurs, and kiwis. It's also important to note that New Zealand's wintertime runs opposite to the northern hemisphere's, during which the coldest months are June, July, and August when the massive mountains are covered with snow and the cold air invites for a crisp winter wonderland adventure.

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7 Jebel Jais Mountain Road, United Arab Emirates

Jebel Jais Mountain Road is a fairly new addition to the world's top winter road trips. The route promises drivers excellent blacktop views that can impress even the most experienced sight-seers who've witnessed the planet's most glorious scenes: expect some of the country's most heart-stopping mountain landscapes, including the highest peak in the UAE. Not for the faint of heart though, this drive involves plenty of hairpin turns, chilly temperatures, and zero lights at night, so those lacking in skill, experience, and confidence should give this one a miss until they're ready for the test.

6 Ring Road, Iceland

Ring Road, also called Route 1, mostly runs along the coast of Iceland and offers a delightful menu of cascading waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and volcanic rocks along the way. But what makes this trip really stand out in winter, though, is the enchanting contrast between the black sand beaches and the pure white snow, which is a unique and rare sight seen only in a handful of places around the globe.

Not for drivers lacking in skill and confidence, this route sees plenty of icy roads, snow, sleet-covered tracks, and often harsh weather. However, drivers who're up for the gratifying challenge should start by renting a four by four with tire chains before tackling one of the most incredible wintery road trips on the planet that rewards the brave with an abundance of life-changing scenery (as well as the odd reindeer in the road to watch out for). Despite sounding nerve-wracking, it is very doable and a popular road trip, with most of it consisting of only two lanes and the occasional graveled section.

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5 Parke County, Indiana, USA

This fun 50-mile loop invites explorers to relish sublime scenery by road, with the likes of wonderful waterfalls, stupendous sandstone cliffs, and ravishing ravines all taking center stage. Interestingly, the region is also home to the largest concentration of covered bridges in the USA's entirety, and the land around these bridges was formed by the last great glacier expansion. The annual Covered Bridge Festival every October is undoubtedly a highlight of Parke County, but many would argue that the deeper winter months are a far more beautiful time in which to visit - especially if a road trip is on the cards.

Overall, this is the perfect road trip for Americans and any international visitor in the area who seek an intriguing mix of history and natural scenery, with the route serving up plenty of preserved 19th-century mills - which now function as restaurants, cafés, and shops - near many of the bridges. A brilliant stop for American history buffs here is also Billie Creek Village, which hosts an early 20th-century schoolhouse and a handful of quaint century-old farmhouses ideal for photography. But if peace and quiet away from towns and people are needed, then stopping for a stroll through Turkey Run State Park is definitely a treat thanks to its charming creeks that resemble a fantasy winter playground throughout the chilly season.

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4 The Badlands Loop (South Dakota Highway 240), South Dakota, USA

Famed for its photogenic rock spires, Highway 240 - also called the Badlands Loop - is one of South Dakota's top attractions, and is an unforgettable path that has been featured in many a movie, including hit Hollywood films such as National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Starship Troopers. The trip isn't that long in itself - it's only around an hour by car - but many adventurers take the time to stop and take in the show-stopping views at the numerous overlooks along the way, and explore the area's two hiking trails that go into the park before heading back to the car to complete the trip.

Summer here lures in crowds that descend to marvel at the scenery and the fascinating millions-of-years-old sedimentary rock formations. However, winter transforms the place into a totally different scene, with those same signature rocky sculptures and formations all drenched in white snow. If that sounds boring, though, then the impressive wildlife in the area might be enough of a draw: it's possible to spot mule deer, pronghorn antelope, buffalo, and even the endangered black-footed ferret if lucky.

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3 Icefields Parkway, Canada

Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in the Icefields Parkway offer drivers the true essence of the Canadian Rockies, with rewards being mesmerizing panoramas of icy lakes, glistening glaciers, towering mountains, and lush snow-dusted forests. The route is only around 140 miles in length and draws in tour buses, RVs, and tourist traffic in summer, but in the winter it's far more peaceful with less hustle and bustle.

Long roads as far as the eye can see without another car in sight are common views, whilst undisturbed wildlife is free to roam without any fear of passing vehicles and people. Think mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and woodland caribou dotted around the stunning scenery, combined with an unparalleled backdrop of frosted mountains and forests, and that's only the tip of the iceberg to be enchanted by. There are also are loads of notable points along the route too, including Bow Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, and Tangle Falls, which are definitely worth stopping for. Other fantastic attractions along the way also include Peyto Lake and Nigel Pass, however, these may require snowshoes in order to access.

2 Bow Valley Parkway, Canada

Canada takes the baton again as a top winter drive destination with its striking route from Lake Louise to Banff National Park, named the Bow Valley Parkway. Officials have reduced the speed limit along these roads, which means that travelers can really take the time to enjoy passing through slowly, absorbing all the marvelous scenery and interesting wildlife along the way, including bighorn sheep and elk.

Before choosing this route, drivers should be aware that driving isn't permitted between 8 pm and 8 am, which is so in order for animals to remain undisturbed during the night. But throughout the day, travelers can visit various natural and historic attractions on the route, such as Johnston Canyon and its amazing waterfalls, and Morant’s Curve with its wide-open vistas of Bow Valley and the mighty Canadian Rockies on the horizon. It's also advised to take into account that some of the popular stops along the way might become snowed in depending on the weather's intensity, but of course, this is more than made up for by some incredible snowshoe walks to be enjoyed in the area.

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1 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA

It goes without saying that many of the USA's most famous parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, are breathtaking and deliver memorable winter road trip. But also included in the winter drive bucket list should be the sensational Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with its outlandish landscapes decorated by ice and snow in the colder months.

Road trippers here can witness a wealth of wildlife and foliage as well, whizzing by over 60 species of tree and shrub, along with deer, black bears, bobcats, and elk. Drivers can also enjoy stopping off at many a hiking trail, and adventure through the wilderness in search of untouched off-road vistas and sights of wild flora and fauna.

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