U.S. Route 21

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U.S. Route 21

US 21 highlighted in red
Route information
Length394 mi (634 km)
  • McTeer Bridge Scenic Byway
  • US 21 Scenic Byway
Major junctions
South endHunting Island State Park, SC
Major intersections
North end I-81 / US 52 in Wytheville, VA
CountryUnited States
StatesSouth Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia
CountiesSC: Beaufort, Hampton, Colleton, Bamberg, Orangeburg, Calhoun, Lexington, Richland, Fairfield, Chester, York
NC: Mecklenburg, Iredell, Yadkin, Surry, Wilkes, Alleghany
VA: Grayson, Wythe
Highway system
US 20US US 22
SC 20SC SC 22
NC 20NC NC 22
SR 20VA SR 22

U.S. Route 21 or U.S. Highway 21 (US 21) is a major north–south United States Numbered Highway in the Southeastern United States that travels 394 miles (634 km). The southern terminus is in Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina, 14.4 miles (23.2 km) south of the junction with US 21 Business and South Carolina Highway 802 (SC 802) in Beaufort. The northern terminus is in Wytheville, Virginia at an interchange with Interstate 81 (I-81) and US 52. Despite the "1" indicating that it is a major north-south highway, U.S. 21 only travels through three states, and is no longer a cross-country route as it has been replaced with Interstate 77 in both Ohio and West Virginia. It also has the second-shortest length of all of the major north-south routes, just behind U.S. 91. The route travels through the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It also connects through major Southeastern cities such as Columbia, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. The northern portion of the road travels parallel to I-77 in northern South Carolina and North Carolina. The road also has three interchanges with I-26 in Lexington and Calhoun counties in South Carolina.

Route description

  mi km
SC 233 375
NC 125 201
VA 35 56
Total 393 632

South Carolina

US 21 travels 233.2 miles (375.3 km) through the state. Beginning at Hunting Island State Park, US 21 travels west toward Beaufort, where it widens to four lanes. The route bypasses Beaufort to the south, going through Port Royal, Shell Point, and Burton. In the Beaufort area, US 21 passes by the entrances to Parris Island and MCAS Beaufort, the major Marine Corps installations in the area. North of Beaufort, US 21 continues as a four-lane divided highway and intersects with US 17. The route travels in a wrong-way concurrency with US 17 south for seven miles (11 km) before turning north towards Yemassee, South Carolina, where it becomes a rural two-lane road and intersects with US 17 Alternate. North of Yemassee, US 21 splits off and crosses I-95 at exit 42.

The two-lane route continues through rural portions of the state. US 21 goes through Smoaks and Branchville, South Carolina and bypasses Orangeburg. North of Orangeburg, US 21 runs roughly parallel to I-26 until Gaston where it conjoins US 321 and becomes an urban highway. US 21 passes through Cayce, West Columbia, and Columbia.

North of Columbia, US 21 splits from US 321, reverting to a rural two-lane road parallel to I-77. In York County, US 21 enters urban areas again, connecting Rock Hill and Fort Mill. Near the North Carolina state line, US 21 merges with I-77 near Carowinds, then enters North Carolina.

North Carolina

US 21 begins as a concurrency with I-77 in Charlotte, which it repeats three times within the state. Its first break with I-77 is along Statesville Avenue, then proceeding through Huntersville and Cornelius, however, because of its close proximity to I-77 and North Carolina Highway 115 (NC 115), it has no interchange with I-485 by itself. The second break with I-77 occurs at Mooresville, where US 21 travels through the city and then northwest into Statesville. After Statesville, US 21 travels northeast to Harmony and Brooks Crossroads, before merging back with I-77 near Jonesville. However, Jonesville and Elkin connect with Business Hwy 21 thru centers of both towns, as an alternate route paralleling I-77. North of Elkin, US 21 splits with I-77 for the last time and goes north to Sparta, passing the Blue Ridge Parkway after a major, curvy section. North of Sparta, at Twin Oaks, US 221 overlaps with US 21 before entering Virginia. US 21 travels 124.5 miles (200.4 km) through the western Piedmont of North Carolina, either combined with I-77 or as a two-lane rural road; from the South Carolina state line to Elkin, travelers can easily skip a majority of US 21 via I-77.


View south along US 21 at SR 805 in Grayson County, Virginia

After a few miles crossing the state line, US 21 reaches the town of Independence, where it splits with US 221 and continues north. The route goes through the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area before entering the city of Wytheville. After a short concurrency with US 11 in downtown Wytheville, it goes north and ends at the intersection of I-81/US 52. US 21 travels 35 miles (56 km) through western Virginia, mostly as a two-lane rural mountain road.


Southern terminus of US 21 at Hunting Island, South Carolina

US 21 in the pre-Interstate era was a north–south highway connecting the area around Lake Erie and the coastal South. One of the few true north–south routes to cross the middle Appalachian Mountains, it became an important corridor for motor traffic between northeastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, (with US 19) and western New York state with central North Carolina, central and southeastern South Carolina, and (by connecting with other highways) coastal Georgia and most of Florida. Many referred to the stretch of Hwy 21 from the Great Lakes Region to Florida as "The Lakes-to-Florida Highway".

US 21 originally (in 1926) connected Cleveland, Ohio, and Yemassee, South Carolina. In 1935 it was extended to Beaufort, South Carolina, and again in 1953 to its current southern terminus at the Atlantic Coast at Hunting Island State Park, between the city of Beaufort and Fripp Island.[1]

In the Interstate Highway era much of US 21 became an obvious corridor for a long-distance expressway. The West Virginia Turnpike between Charleston, West Virginia, and Princeton, West Virginia, was the first segment of a planned series of toll highways along or near US 21 from Cleveland to Charlotte, North Carolina. All of the other toll highways were shelved in favor of freeways built with Interstate funding; these freeways and the West Virginia Turnpike became I-77, which completely supplanted old US 21 as a long-distance through route. I-77 was later extended to Columbia, South Carolina, also within a few miles of US 21.

Between Cleveland and Charleston, all but a relatively short segment of US 21 was completely deleted in favor of I-77, the relics being State Route 21 (SR 21), SR 821 between Byesville and Marietta, Ohio, and Guernsey County Road 35 and Tuscarawas County Road 3 (Salt Fork Road), named Old Twenty-One Road and closely follows the route of US 21 from Byesville, Ohio to the village of Newcomerstown, Ohio. County Road 35 briefly becomes a variety of street names as it passes through Cambridge, such as Byesville Road, North Avenue, 11th Street, and Clark Street, before reverting to Old Twenty-One Road on the north side of Cambridge. From there, much of the old US 21 is still intact, however, some sections were demolished and redirected in favor of I-77. Once crossing the Guernsey/Tuscarawas county line, it becomes Salt Fork Road for about a mile, before joining Ohio State Route 258, which takes it the rest of the way to Newcomerstown. In total, the entire section of Old Twenty-One Road between North Cambridge and Newcomerstown is a total of 22.5 miles. The section of US 21 between Mineral Wells and Charleston is now signed as County Route 21 in all four counties along the route (Wood, Wirt, Jackson, and Kanawha).

Between Charleston and its current northern terminus at Wytheville, Virginia, almost all of US 21 coincided with either US 60, US 19, or US 52, which remained as US 21 was deleted. The short segment of US 21 in southern West Virginia not coinciding with another U.S. Highway became an extension of West Virginia Route 16.

In North Carolina, US 21 originally entered the state along today's NC 51 into Pineville, then followed Old Pineville Road into Charlotte. In the mid-1930s, US 21 moved over to South Boulevard from Old Pineville Road. In 1969, US 21 was rerouted following today's I-77 alignment, the old route was replaced by an extension of US 521. From 1975–87, US 21 moved north in segments onto I-77 to its current alignment ending at exit 16A (Sunset Road). Further north, US 21 originally followed Old Statesville Road, replaced in 1956 by NC 115. In 1966, US 21 was bypassed around Jonesville and Elkin, replaced with US 21 Business.[2]

US 21 in Beaufort, South Carolina was rerouted around the city over former SC 280 as well as a portion of SC 802. The new routing went into effect on February 26, 2012.[3]

Browse numbered routes
US 20AOH SR 21

Major intersections

South CarolinaBeaufortHunting Island State Park0.000.00Sea Island Parkway / Campground RoadSouthern terminus; road continues as Sea Island Parkway
Lady's Island14.5023.34

US 21 Bus. north (Sea Island Parkway west) / SC 802 east (Sams Point Road)
Southern terminus of US 21 Bus.; western terminus of SC 802
Port Royal17.3527.92
SC 281 north (Ribaut Road north)
Southern terminus of SC 281
19.8731.98Parris Island M.C.R.D.Interchange
SC 128 west (Savannah Highway) – Bluffton, Hardeeville, Hilton Head Island
Eastern terminus of SC 128
Beaufort24.2439.01 SC 170 (Robert Smalls Parkway) – Beaufort

US 21 Bus. south – Beaufort
Northern terminus of US 21 Bus.
SC 116 west – Laurel Bay
Eastern terminus of SC 116
Gardens Corner37.4060.19
US 17 north – Charleston
Interchange; eastern end of US 17 concurrency

US 17 Alt. begins / US 17 south to I-95 – Ridgeland, Savannah
Western end of US 17 concurrency; southern end of US 17 Alt. concurrency; southern terminus of US 17 Alt.

SC 68 west (Connely Street) / Flowers Street south (US 17 Conn. south) to I-95 – Hampton, Allendale
Eastern terminus of SC 68; northern terminus of US 17 Conn.

US 17 Alt. north (Hendersonville Highway) – Walterboro
Northern end of US 17 Alt. concurrency
52.0483.75 I-95 – Florence, SavannahI-95 exit 42
62.0099.78 SC 63 (Sniders Highway) – Varnville, Walterboro
Bells Crossroads68.41110.10 SC 64 (Bells Highway) – Ehrhardt, Walterboro
Smoaks77.10124.08 SC 217 (Lodge Highway) – Lodge
BambergWhetstone Crossroads83.20133.90 SC 61 (Edisto River Road) – Bamberg
US 78 west (Edward Street) – Bamberg
Southern end of US 78 concurrency
US 78 east (Dorange Road) – Charleston
Northern end of US 78 concurrency
SC 210 north – Bowman
Southern terminus of SC 210

US 21 Bus. north (Rowesville Road) / Stonewall Jackson Boulevard (US 601 Truck north / SC 4 west)
Southern end of US 601 Truck concurrency; southern terminus of US 21 Bus.; eastern terminus of SC 4

US 178 east (Charleston Highway east) / US 178 Bus. west (Charleston Highway west) – Charleston
Southern end of US 178 concurrency; eastern terminus of US 178 Bus.
105.55169.87 US 301 (Five Chop Road) – Santee, Bamberg
105.65170.03 SC 33 (Russel Street) – Cameron

US 601 (Magnolia Street) / US 601 Truck ends – St. Matthews, Bamberg
Northern end of US 601 Truck concurrency; northern terminus of US 601 Truck
US 178 west (Chestnut Street) / Columbia Road south (US 21 Conn. south) – North
Northern end of US 178 concurrency; northern terminus of US 21 Conn.; US 21 turns right off of Chestnut Street and onto Columbia Road.
Calhoun120.48193.89 SC 172 – North

SC 6 east to I-26
Southern end of SC 6 concurrency
SC 6 north (Center Hill Road) – Swansea
Northern end of SC 6 concurrency
Lexington127.48205.16 I-26 – Columbia, CharlestonI-26 exit 129
CalhounSandy Run130.23209.58
US 176 east (Old State Road) – St. Matthews
Southern end of US 176 concurrency
Lexington137.13220.69 I-26 – Columbia, CharlestonI-26 exit 119
US 321 south – Gaston, Swansea
Southern end of US 321 concurrency
I-77 north – Charlotte
I-77 exit 1
141.87228.32 I-26 – Charleston, SpartanburgI-26 exit 115
SC 2 north (Frink Road)
Southern terminus of SC 2
West Columbia144.45232.47
SC 302 south (Airport Boulevard) – Aiken, Columbia Airport
Northern terminus of SC 302
Cayce146.23235.33 SC 2 (State Street)

SC 48 Truck east (Blossom Street / US 21 Conn. east / US 76 Conn. east) to US 76 east / US 378 east
Western terminus of US 21 Conn., US 76 Conn., and SC 48 Truck; US 21, US 176, and US 321 turn left off of Blossom Street and onto Huger Street.
147.86237.96 US 1 / US 378 (Gervais Street) – South Carolina State Museum, Confederate Relic Room, EdVenture, Columbia SC Visitors Center, Convention Center, Colonial Life Arena
SC 12 east (Hampton Street) – Fort Jackson
One-way couplet
SC 12 west (Taylor Street) – Lexington

I-126 west / US 76 west to I-20 – Greenville, Spartanburg
Southern end of I-126/US 76 concurrency; Rep. T. Moffatt Burriss Sr. Interchange
I-126 ends
Northern end of I-126 concurrency
SC 48 east (Assembly Street) – Columbia Museum of Art
Western terminus of SC 48
US 76 east (Elmwood Avenue)
Northern end of US 76 concurrency
US 176 west (River Drive)
Northern end of US 176 concurrency
150.66242.46 SC 16 (Sunset Drive)
SC 215 north (Monticello Road)
Southern terminus of SC 215
US 321 north (Fairfield Street) – Winnsboro
Northern end of US 321 concurrency
154.76249.06 I-20 – Florence, AugustaI-20 exit 71
Blythewood162.17260.99 I-77 – Columbia, CharlotteI-77 exit 24
163.46263.06 SC 555 (Farrow Road) – Columbia
Fairfield171.40275.84Coleman Highway west (US 21 Conn. north) – WinnsboroSouthern terminus of US 21 Conn.; eastern terminus of Coleman Highway
SC 34 east (Palmer Street) – Lugoff, Camden
Southern end of SC 34 concurrency
SC 34 west (Church Street) – Winnsboro Mills
Northern end of SC 34 concurrency
189.11304.34 SC 200 – WinnsboroSouthern end of SC 200 concurrency
ChesterGreat Falls192.07309.11
SC 99 north (Chester Avenue) – Richburg
Southern terminus of SC 99
SC 97 north – Chester
Southern end of SC 97 concurrency

SC 97 south / SC 200 north – Lancaster
Northern end of SC 97 and SC 200 concurrencies
Fort Lawn200.93323.37 SC 9 (Chester Avenue) – Richburg, Lancaster
206.23331.90 SC 223 (Wylies Mill Road) – Richburg
SC 5 south – Lancaster
Interchange; southern end of SC 5 concurrency; to Andrew Jackson State Park
Lesslie215.67347.09LesslieInterchange via connector road
Rock Hill217.26349.65Lesslie, Red RiverInterchange
218.02350.87 I-77 – Columbia, CharlotteI-77 exit 77
218.72352.00 SC 5 / SC 121 (Main Street)Access to Piedmont Medical Center; northern end of SC 5 concurrency; southern end of SC 121 concurrency
SC 122 (Dave Lyle Boulevard) to I-77
SC 322 west (Cherry Road west) / SC 121 ends
Northern end of SC 121 concurrency; northern terminus of SC 121; eastern terminus of SC 322
222.80358.56 I-77 – Columbia, CharlotteI-77 exit 82

SC 161 north (Celanese Road) to I-77 north – Charlotte, York
Southern terminus of SC 161
Fort Mill224.37361.09

US 21 Bus. north (Spratt Street) – Fort Mill
Southern terminus of US 21 Bus.
226.42364.39 SC 160 – Tega Cay
229.20368.86 SC 460 (Springfield Parkway) – Tega Cay, Fort Mill

US 21 Bus. south (Old Nation Road)
Northern terminus of US 21 Bus.
SC 51 north (Pineville–Rock Hill Road) – Pineville
Southern terminus of SC 51 (northern segment)
I-77 south – Columbia
Southern end of I-77 concurrency; I-77 exit 90
South CarolinaNorth Carolina line
North CarolinaMecklenburgCharlotte0.91.41AWestinghouse BoulevardExit numbers follow I-77
1.82.91B I-485 – Huntersville, PinevilleFormerly exit 2 (southbound) before August 2010; I-485 exit 67
2.84.53Arrowood RoadFormerly exit 2 (northbound) before August 2010
3.76.04Nations Ford Road
4.87.75Tyvola RoadSingle-point urban interchange
6.09.76AWoodlawn Road south (Charlotte Route 4 east) – Queens UniversityTo Pfeiffer University
To NC 49 (S. Tryon Street) / Billy Graham Parkway (Charlotte Route 4 west)
To Billy Graham Library and Charlotte Douglas International Airport; southbound signed as NC 49 south (S. Tryon St. south) only
To NC 49 / Clanton Road
To NC 160 / Remount Road
Northbound exit and southbound entrance
9.014.59A NC 160 (West Boulevard)Southbound exit and northbound entrance; access from collector-distributor lanes

I-277 north / US 74 east (John Belk Freeway)
Access from collector-distributor lanes; I-277 exits 1B-C

US 74 west (Wilkinson Boulevard) to US 29 / NC 27
US 29 and NC 27 signed northbound only; access from collector-distributor lanes; US 74 exits 1B-C
9.915.910A US 29 / NC 27 (Morehead Street)Southbound exit and northbound entrance
10.416.710Trade Street / Fifth StreetSigned southbound as exits 10B (Trade Street east) and 10C (Fifth Street/Trade Street west)

I-277 south / NC 16 south (Brookshire Freeway east) – Downtown Charlotte
I-277 exits 5A-B
NC 16 north (Brookshire Freeway west)
Left exit northbound; NC 16 exits 5A-B

I-77 north (Express lanes)
Southern terminus of HOV3+/toll lanes

I-277 south
Express lanes only, southbound exit and northbound entrance
12.420.012Lasalle Street / Atando Avenue
13.321.413 I-85 – Greensboro, SpartanburgSigned as exits 13A (north) and 13B (south); hybrid interchange; I-85 exit 38

I-85 north
Express lanes only; northbound exit and southbound entrance
I-77 north – Statesville
Northern end of I-77 concurrency; I-77 exit 16
NC 115 north (Old Statesville Road)
Southern terminus of NC 115
18.930.4 NC 24 (W.T. Harris Boulevard)To Northlake Mall
Alexandriana Road to I-485
25.741.4 NC 73 (Sam Furr Road) – Concord
I-77 south – Charlotte
Southern end of I-77 concurrency; I-77 exit 28
Davidson30.248.630Griffith Street – DavidsonExit numbers follow I-77
Lake NormanLake Norman Causeway
IredellMooresville32.151.731Langtree Road
I-77 north – Statesville
Northern end of I-77 concurrency; I-77 exit 33
36.458.6 NC 150 (Plaza Drive)Interchange
NC 115 south (Statesville Highway)
Southern end of NC 115 concurrency
43.369.7 I-77 – Charlotte, StatesvilleI-77 exit 42
Statesville51.282.4 US 70 (Garner Bagnal Boulevard) – Conover, Salisbury

US 64 west (Front Street) / NC 115 north (Center Street)
Northern end of NC 115 concurrency; southern end of US 64 concurrency
NC 90 west (Water Street)
Eastern terminus of NC 90
US 64 east (Davie Avenue) – Mocksville
Northern end of US 64 concurrency
54.187.1 I-40 – Hickory, Winston-SalemI-40 exit 151
57.292.1 I-77 – Statesville, ElkinI-77 exit 54
Harmony66.9107.7 NC 901 (Memorial Highway) – Union Grove
YadkinBrooks Crossroads79.2127.5 US 421 – Wilkesboro, Yadkinville, Winston-Salem

I-77 south / US 21 Bus. north – Statesville, Jonesville
Southern end of I-77 concurrency; I-77 exit 79; southern terminus of US 21 Bus.
Jonesville88.5142.482 NC 67 – Jonesville, Boonville, ElkinExit number follows I-77
Yadkin RiverSgt. Gregory Keith Martin Memorial Bridges
I-77 north – Wytheville
Northern end of I-77 concurrency; southbound exit and northbound entrance; I-77 exit 83

NC 268 Byp. to I-77 north – Elkin
Interchange; to Elkin Municipal Airport; to I-77 exit 85

US 21 Bus. south – Elkin
Northern terminus of US 21 Bus.
WilkesNo major intersections
Alleghany111.2179.0 Blue Ridge ParkwayInterchange via connector roads
Sparta118.2190.2 NC 18 (Whitehead Street) – Laurel Springs
Twin Oaks121.1194.9
US 221 south – Jefferson
Southern end of US 221 concurrency
North CarolinaVirginia line
US 221 north / US 58 (Main Street) – Mouth of Wilson, Galax
Northern end of US 221 concurrency
Elk Creek14.7723.77 SR 658 (Comers Rock Road) – Comers Rock
SR 805 (Spring Valley Road) to SR 94 – Fries
WytheSpeedwell21.2634.21 SR 619 (Saint Peters Road) / SR 749 (Cedar Springs Road) – Cedar Springs, Rural Retreat
26.0341.89 SR 690 (Crockett Road, Cripple Creek Road) – Crockett, Cripple Creek
31.1350.10 SR 696 (Barrett Mill Road) – Big Survey Wildlife Management Area
US 11 south (Lee Highway)
Southern end of US 11 concurrency
US 11 north (Main Street)
Northern end of US 11 concurrency
I-81 / US 52 to I-77 – Bristol, Roanoke
Northern terminus; I-81 exit 70; road continues west as US 52 (4th Street north)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Special routes and auxiliary routes

There are currently four active business loops and two known connectors along its route.

Auxiliary routes of U.S. Route 21

See also


  1. ^ Sanderson, Dale (July 4, 2009). "End of US Highway 21". US Ends. Self-published. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  2. ^ Mapmikey; Prince, Adam (August 28, 2009). "US 21". NCRoads.com Annex: More Highways of North Carolina. Self-published. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  3. ^ "Federal highway rerouted through Beaufort area". Post and Courier. Associated Press. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  4. ^ "Highway Logmile Report". South Carolina Department of Transportation. May 4, 2021. Archived from the original on May 13, 2021. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  5. ^ Google (February 1, 2011). "Overview map of US 21 in NC" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  6. ^ "2019 Traffic Data". Virginia Department of Transportation. 2019. Archived from the original on May 5, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2021.

External links