By Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Best roadside attractions in the West

As the U.S. highways system expanded in the 1930s, so did competition to lure drivers to stop (and spend their money). Here are the best roadside attractions to stop for in the West.

Alaska - Hammer Museum

Image courtesy of JLS Photography - Alaska via Flickr

Visitors to this popular Haines attraction can see more than 2,000 hammer-related artifacts (including the world’s largest hammer collection) that tell the story of this humble tool.

Arizona - The Thing

Image courtesy of @itinerant.life via Instagram

What is The Thing? You may or may not get an answer by visiting this roadside stop in Texas Canyon, an oddities museum covering all sorts of conspiracy theories (many aliens are involved).

California - Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch

Image courtesy of @robbievegas via Instagram

California has no shortage of roadside attractions, but this forest of glass bottle trees ranks among the most photogenic. This outdoor gallery in Oro Grande has some 200 installations.

Colorado - UFO Watchtower

Image courtesy of @tannerkb via Instagram

The UFO Watchtower, located just outside Great Sand Dunes National Park, makes it easier for extraterrestrial watchers to spot a UFO for themselves from a 10-foot-tall viewing platform.

Hawaii - Pineapple Garden Maze

Image courtesy of @wanderwoman285 via Instagram

As one of the world’s largest mazes, it occupies three acres with nearly 2.5 miles of paths, all made from 14,000 Hawaiian plants. It’s one of only a few permanent botanical mazes in the United States.

Idaho - The Spud Drive In

Image courtesy of The Spud Drive In

If you’re driving through Eastern Idaho’s Teton Valley on Highway 33 on a Friday or Saturday, be sure to pull into the Spud Drive In for an evening double feature.

Montana - Garden of 1,000 Buddhas

Amid the mountain peaks of Montana’s scenic Jocko Valley, you’ll find the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, a public park and Buddhist center.

Nevada - Goldwell Open Air Museum

Image courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

This open air art museum outside the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada features seven colossal installations. The nearly 8-acre museum is free and open to the public daily.

New Mexico - Roswell

Image courtesy of New Mexico TRUE

The town of Roswell has become a pop culture phenomenon, thanks to the nearby alleged UFO crash site. You can visit exhibits at the International UFO Museum or take a VR journey through the galaxy at Spaceport Roswell.

Oregon - Prehistoric Gardens

Instagram-worthy roadside attractions don’t get much better than the Prehistoric Gardens, a collection of life-sized dinosaur sculptures near Port Orford in the coastal rainforests.

Utah - Metaphor: The Tree of Utah

If you’re driving through the vast Great Salt Lake Desert along I-80, you might notice this 87-foot-tall sculpture. It features a trunk supporting six spheres, each covered in rocks and minerals native to Utah.

Washington - Nutty Narrows Bridge

Image courtesy of @infinitykitty__ via Instagram

Longview local Amos Peters built the Nutty Narrows Bridge in 1963 to give the town’s squirrel population a way to cross a busy street without getting run over by passing cars.

Wyoming - World's Largest Elkhorn Arch

Image courtesy of Christopher Eugene Lee

The town of Afton is home to the state’s (and the world’s) largest elkhorn arch, made from some 3,000 antlers. The arch spans Main Street and measures 18 feet fall.

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