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  1. 15 Epic Roads to Drive Before you Die

    posted by Isabel Clift | 24 Comments

    15 Epic Roads to Drive Before you Die

    Nov262014

    By Isabel Clift (@Isabel_Clift)

    Your car is crying out for these roads.

    Whether it's a white-knuckle ride mountain pass, a bridge across the ocean or a highway through the Himalayas, find your next dream road trip route among the world's best roads below....

    1. Seven Mile Bridge, Florida, USA

    7 Mile Bridge

    With a starring role in action thrillers 2 Fast 2 Furious, Mission Impossible III and James Bond movie Licence to Kill, the Florida Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge looks as impressive on film as it does in real life.

    One of the longest bridges in the world when the first section opened in 1912, this oversea highway connects Knight’s Key (part of the city of Marathon) in the Middle Key to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.

    Photo: justtakemethere

    2. Sani Pass, South Africa

    Sani Pass

    You need a 4x4 to traverse South Africa’s notorious Sani Pass – and only if border authorities think your vehicle’s up to the challenge. Along the road, you’ll see debris from cars that weren’t so lucky.

    A pathway from SA’s Kwazulu-Natal region to neighbouring country Lesotho, the 9km Sani Pass sends drivers on a hair-raising journey of steep and slippery slopes over the Northern Lesotho Mountains. It closes at 6pm every day, and is often shut due to bad weather.

    Photo: Amada44

    3. Dadès Gorges mountain pass, Morocco

    Dades Gorge

    Winding through Morocco’s Dadès Valley between the Atlas Mountains and the Anti-Atlas mountain range, the Dadès Gorges road runs 100 miles east from Ouarzazate with a wild landscape of snow on one side, desert on the other.

    If you’ve got a four wheel drive, take the twisty mountain loop pictured by heading north towards Agoudal then turning south towards Todra Gorge.

    Photo: Rosino

    4. Leh - Manali Highway, Himalaya Mountains, India

    Leh - Menali Highway

    Travel the Himalayas on four wheels by driving all 479km of northern India’s Leh-Manali Highway. Its highest elevation is Tanglang La mountain pass at 5328m, and on average you’re two to three miles above sea level at all times on the route.

    The drive takes a day by jeep, and connects Leh in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir state to Manali in Himachal Pradesh state. It’s only open from May to October, when the Indian army clears snow off the dirt gravel road.

    Photo: Vill Hyvonen

    5. Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand

    Arthur's Pass

    A spectacular mountain pass in New Zealand’s southern Alps, Arthur’s Pass takes you on a coast-to-coast drive of South Island, from Christchurch on the east coast to Greymouth on the west.

    The 440m Otira Viaduct (pictured crossing the Otira river) has route’s most breath-taking views.

    Photo: DarkFalls

    6. Furka Pass, Switzerland

    Furka Pass

    Another James Bond location, the Swiss Alps’ Furka Pass was used for a scene in Goldfinger. But you’ll probably look anything but Bond-style glamorous when tackling it: steep slopes, hairpin bends, switchbacks and sharp, blind curves make this a white-knuckle ride to all but the most experienced (or crazy) drivers. At least the road’s wide and perfectly surfaced – this is Switzerland, after all.

    Connecting tiny village Realp at the foot of the mountain with Gletsch in the upper Rhone valley, you’ll see awesome views of the Rhone glacier to the west as you climb… if you dare take your eyes off the road.

    Photo: Cooper.ch

    7. Beartooth Highway, Montana, USA

    Beartooth Highway

    Unbelievably beautiful mountain vistas and a jaw-dropping elevation of 10947ft on Beartooth Pass make this one of the USA’s most scenic drives.

    Tracing the border between Montana and Wyoming in the Beartooth Mountains, the Beartooth Highway runs from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City along US Route 212. 

    Photo: Ben Townsend

    8. Great Ocean Road, Australia

    Great Ocean Road

    This isn’t just one of the world’s most exhilarating drives – it’s also the largest war memorial on the planet. Built by returning soldiers from 1919 - 1932, this 243km coastal route is dedicated to Australian comrades killed during WW1.

    Passing the famous Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the Great Ocean Road runs along Victoria’s south east edge, starting at Torquay and finishing at Allansford.

    Photo: David Iliff

    9. Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway

    Atlantic Ocean Road

    Want to go island-hopping… by car? You can on Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road. Traversing an archipelago of small islands and skerries via bridges, causeways and viaducts, this 8.3km section of County Road 64 was named the best drive in the world by the Guardian in 2006.

    Storseisundet Bridge

    Running between villages Kårvåg on Averøy and Vevang in Eida, the road passes the wild seas of Hustadvika, site of many a shipwreck and considered Norway’s most dangerous stretch of water. The highway’s also home to Storseisundet Bridge, “the bridge to nowhere” – which on approach looks like a ramp to the sky.

    Photo: Kulfoto

    10. Transfăgărășan, Romania

    Transfăgărășan

    Called “the best road in the world” by Jeremy Clarkson on a 2009 edition of Top Gear, Transfăgărășan runs for 90km across the Southern Carpathian Mountains, between highest and second-highest peaks Moldoveanu and Negoiu.

    A winding route of sharp descents, S-curves and hairpin turns, the road climbs to 2,034 metres altitude at its highest point. It also passes Vlad the Impaler’s castle Poienari fortress in the southern section near village Arefu.

    Photo: Blue Elf

    11. Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa

    Chapman's Peak Drive

    Chapman’s Peak Drive was hacked in to the near-vertical face of mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, 15km from Cape Town.

    Running from Noordhoek to Hout Bay, the twisting 9km drive has 114 curves and gives you spectacular 180° views of the Atlantic coastline.

    Photo: Graeme Churchard

    12. Trollstigen, Norway

    Trollstigen

    Test your stomach by driving Trollstigen, one of Norway’s twistiest roads. The route’s steep 10% incline, narrow width and 11 hairpin bends make it a supremely wavy ride.

    Taking up a section of National Road 63 and connecting town Åndalsnes in Rauma with Valldal in Norddal Municipality, the road plateaus at 2300ft where there’s a carpark and several public balconies. Get out and take in immense views of Stigfossen waterfall, which tumbles 1050ft down the mountain.

    Photo: Ritcheyblack

    13. Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

    Mae Hong Son Loop

    A real epic journey, this: the Mae Hong Son Loop in northern Thailand is 600km long and takes four days to travel. Starting in Chiang Mai and going clockwise, the circular drive takes in the beauty of Mae Hong Son Province passing through towns Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son and backpacker mecca Pai.

    Scenery is as stunning as you’d expect in Thailand’s most mountainous province, and asphalt roads are in great condition. On the way you’ll pass waterfalls, caves and temples, and climb Thailand’s highest peak Doi Inthanon for spectacular views over the valleys.

    Photo: John Shedrick

    14. Stelvio Pass, Alps, northern Italy

    Stelvio Pass

    Shooting to fame after being featured in Top Gear in 2008, Clarkson and co. called the Stelvio Pass the "greatest driving road in the world". That was before they tried Transfăgărășan (see above), but Stelvio remains a place of pilgrimage for petrolheads.

    At an elevation of 2757m this is the highest paved pass in the Eastern Alps. The road has a heart-clutching 48 hairpin turns, and connects the Valtellina valley with the mid Venosta valley and Meran.

    Photo: Damian Morys

    15. Millau Viaduct, southern France

    Milleau Viaduct

    Taller than the Eiffel Tower, Millau Viaduct is the world’s highest bridge. As well as being an engineering masterpiece, it also looks like a work of art - typical of the French. It opened in 2004 and was built across the Tarn valley to alleviate holiday traffic between France and Spain.

    The bridge is 2460 metres long and is found on the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Montpellier.

    Milleau Viaduct

    Hopefully these road ideas have given you a few more trips to add to your bucket list. I know they have for me - bring on the Mae Hong Son Loop...

    Photos: phillip capper and Ritchyblack

    What's the best road you've ever driven? Tell us below...

    Related posts:

    Hero image by Andy Wasley. Please note, all images were hed under the Creative Commons licence at the time of publication.
  2. 24 Comments so far.

    rajesh said on 17/12/2014 at 5:22pm

    I have driven on 7 mile bridge, florida on my way from Miami to Key West and the drive is just awesome

    Don said on 27/11/2014 at 11:04am

    where is the yungas road of bolivia? the most dangerous road of the world

    Jane Stockdale said on 27/11/2014 at 9:25am

    I have driven only one of these being the Bear Tooth Highway, but I have also driven Needles Highway and the Iron Bridge Road in South Dakota which were pretty impressive as well together with the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco.

    Ron Perrier said on 27/11/2014 at 8:45am

    I agree with the first comment - The Banff-Jasper Highway in the Canadian Rockies. The most beautiful drive in the world - big mountains, glaciers, deep blue lakes, numerous hikes. It has it all.

    Jenna said on 19/10/2014 at 7:42pm

    16. Jasper to Banff, Canada

    Scott Brodie said on 23/08/2014 at 5:07pm

    How could you miss the Hana Highway? 52 miles, , 59 bridges, 620 curves, tropical rainforest, waterfalls, scenic shoreline! This is the most spectacular road in the world!

    The Gallivantista said on 14/06/2014 at 8:39am

    Only one! Though I've ridden a bike down The World's Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia which must have been worthy of consideration. I'm off to tweak my bucket list...

    kt said on 14/06/2014 at 7:44am

    I have been lucky to have driven on 4 of the above. But you missed out the Pacific Coast Highway in California...,

    Tamara said on 06/06/2014 at 1:05pm

    Of this list, the only one we've driven is the 7-mile bridge in Florida. Most of the others we'd love to add to our list! We've done many epic drives back and forth across the US. Some of our favorites include the short but beautiful 19-mile drive up to Pike's Peak in Colorado. Another favorite follows the historic Northwest Passage from Lewiston, Idaho to Lolo Pass into Montana.

    jane said on 04/06/2014 at 6:54am

    Your hints and tips always inspire me to travel further but unfortunately I have to return to work so I can earn more money to travel on, but after reading money saving ideas I won't have to work so long Jane

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