Mapquest Ranks Each U.S. Interstate

West has better roadways than East

Feb 26, 2015
Outside Magazine

I-90, also known as "America's Great Road," was named the top highway in the U.S.    Tony Webster/Flickr

Online directions database Mapquest has ranked all 66 interstates in the lower 48 states from best to worst. Topping the list is the behemoth I-90, which takes drivers from Boston to Seattle, noting that it is the least busy of the cross-country highways (the others are I-10, I-40, I-70, and I-80). At the bottom of the list is I-95, the often congested and featureless strip of asphalt that connects Miami to Houlton, Maine.

In ranking the interstates, Mapquest created a “traffic rating” based on “vehicle travel miles per mile of interstate.” Then the company considered the more subjective pleasure principal: How fun are these roads to drive? According to Mapquest, this metric favored the longer roads and what they call “thematic regional rides”—the highways that take you past noteworthy attractions—over highways built as connectors between suburbs, cities, and coastal towns.

Looking at the larger trend, highways in the Northeast, South, and Midwest populate most of the lower rankings. (Blacktops that passed through Texas and Pennsylvania fared particularly poorly.) It’s not until number 35 out of 66 that an interstate found entirely in the West appears—and that’s I-82, the 144-mile road between Ellensburg, Washington, and Umatilla, Oregon.

Eight of the top 10 are located either entirely or partially in Western, Southwestern, or Rocky Mountain states. And three of the top 10 are east-west connectors. The second-best interstate is I-70, connecting Baltimore to Cove Fort, Utah; fifth best is I-80, from Teaneck, New Jersey, to San Francisco.

No matter the ranking, if you’re looking for a great road trip, your best bets are still the back roads.

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