Camino Cielo, Santa Barbara, California
This is an incredible ridge road that rewards you at the top of Gibraltar Mountain in the Santa Ynez Mountains, one of the few mountain ranges in the United States oriented east to west. If you’re in Santa Barbara, you’ll see the mountains looming over you — and you’ll want to ride up to see the view from the top. Mark Thompsen of Trek Travel notes that it’s the favorite ride of the company's president, who has “ridden everywhere.” The road up presents some steep climbs on switchbacks, challenging turns often preceded by climbs, and the pavement can be choppy, so there’s little respite until you reach a straight stretch. But each turn of the pedals brings you closer to the summit at Gibraltar, and the view of the bay, Goleta, and Santa Barbara makes the climb worth the trouble — as does the descent and a recovery stop at one of the many wineries in the region.