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10 Scenic Routes So Good You Might Crash & Die

November 13, 2013

Driving can be a truly liberating experience, offering access to some of the most ridiculously incredible locations on Earth, often inaccessible to mere pedestrians. This list covers what we believe are the ten most awesome, amazing and bizarre routes across the globe, including the world’s most dangerous road, some utterly breathtaking views and everything in between.

Atlanterhavsveien (The Atlantic Ocean Road)

This 5.2mi (8.3km) section of country road 64 in Norway, connects the island Averøy, and a few others along the way, to the mainland. This road, built across several little islands connected by causeways, viaducts and 8 bridges, features one of the most bizarre pieces of motoring landscaping you will ever see, the Storseisundet Bridge – a 260m (850ft) bridge crossing the freezing Norwegian sea only 23m (75ft) above, with nothing but a single metal guardrail keeping you from plummeting into a watery grave.

But not to worry, not one person has ever died on the Atlantic Ocean road, and with its numerous rest tops and view points along the way, you’ll easily have a chance to get your breath back and take a few holiday snaps after travelling this death-defying road.

Mamalahoa Highway (Hawaii Belt Road)

The Hawaii belt road is the modern name for the Mamalahoa highway and is made up from route 11, route 19 and route 190, creating a ring road encapsulating the whole island. The road alone is an amazing drive, taking a tour of the whole of the island and soaking up its amazing scenery and culture. But what makes this road top ten material is the section of route 11 aptly named ‘Volcano Highway’. Passing the entrance into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this road often has streams of molten lava flowing beside or even across it, and offers some views you’d struggle to find anywhere else in the world, never mind bang in the middle of the paradise that is the island of Hawaii.

Passo Dello Stelvi (Stelvio Pass)

The Stelvio pass in Italy is a road for any wannabe race car driver, with its 75 hairpin turns. Climbing to a staggering 2757m (9045ft), it has even claimed the title of ‘greatest driving road in the world’ by the Top Gear lads, as it’s practically a racecourse built into the side of a mountain – and with its tight corners and short straights, you’ll never quite go fast enough to be caught speeding, but you’ll still get that racetrack experience weaving in and out of the tight corners like the Stig.

Guoliang Tunnel

This tunnel, physically carved into the side of the Taihang Mountains, is a truly beautiful feat of construction – or rather, destruction. In 1972, a group of people decided the hard-to-climb path through the hill just wouldn’t cut it. So they embarked on a 5 year project to carve a tunnel to their village right out of the mountain it sat on. And in May 1977, they finally opened it to the public, losing several of their tiny workforce to accidents along the way. When the tunnel opened, it instantly became a tourist attraction in China due to its magnificence and sheer awesomeness, but at only 4m wide, it’s not the easiest nor the safest. Nevertheless, it is arguably the prettiest tunnel on Earth.

Capulin Volcano Road

The Capulin Volcano national monument is situated in the state of New Mexico, US, and is an extinct cinder cone volcano which last erupted about 60,000 years ago, give or take a couple of millennia.

The Capulin Volcano road made it onto our list because, well, who doesn’t want to drive their car up the side of a volcano? The road itself spirals around the mountain and leads to a car park/viewing area on the rim of the volcano, where you can see for miles to the horizon – not that anybody ever really notices when they’re looking inward at what used to be a giant volcano. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could take one of the hiking trails into the mouth of the volcano – but personally, it’s not the place we’d want to be when the thing decides to jump back to life and throw molten lava into the skies.

The Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1)

Stretching 500 miles from Baja California, the Mexican peninsula runs all the way to the tip of the Olympic peninsula. This road is probably the second most notorious road in America, beaten only by Route 66. The beautiful eastern seaboard provides unparalleled road trip opportunities, passing through some of the USA’s most idyllic countrysides, as well as popular cities and tourist attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove State Park.

But as you can see, Route 1’s main attraction is its staggering seascapes and the glorious natural elements you pass on the way. Definitely had to make our list.

The Yungas Road, aka the ‘Death Road’

Both the north and south Yungas Roads are considered equally as dangerous, bringing the title ‘the world’s most dangerous road’ to this small mountain pass in Bolivia.

Estimates are that around 2-300 people are killed each year in crashes and accidents on the Yungas road, but not many are confirmed since there’s often no way of accessing the wreckages after they’ve fallen thousands of feet down the side of the mountain.

Why you’d want to drive on this deathtrap of a road is beyond us – maybe you’re a thrill seeker or a daredevil, or just have a death wish. But its danger factor alone makes the Yungas Road a certain feature on this list.

The White Rim Road

This 100 mile dirt road situated in the Canyonlands National Park is a thing of beauty. An unmatched way to enjoy the orange desert landscapes, plateaus and canyons, this offroad track takes you on a tour of the most beautiful and extreme landscapes you will ever see, twisting in and out of canyons and around hills, up to amazing viewpoints where you can see for miles. This road is considered moderately difficult for high-clearance 4x4s, so don’t think you’ll be able to have a day trip in your family run around – this is a baron and untouched kind of beauty which requires an equally aggressive and rugged vehicle to tackle it. Not for beginners, this one.

Route 1 (Icelandic Ring Road)

The Icelandic Ring Road is a 1399km (832mi) national road in Iceland which runs around the entire island and connects the major spots, passing some stunning glacial views and picturesque landscapes along the way to tourist attractions like Seljalandfoss, Skógafoss and  Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Although this looks like a nice, laid-back drive, it’s actually a highly dangerous road to travel on. Much of the road is still the original country road from the ’40s, featuring such delights as blind corners and hills, one-lane bridges and narrow passes – and even crossing Skeiðarársandur, a glacial outwash plain which often floods the road, meaning it has to be repaired numerous times each year. The speed limit on the majority or this road is 90kmh (a mere 56 mph), but even at those speeds you could end up in a fatal accident just from a stealthy patch of ice.

Amalfi Coast Road

The Amalfi coast road is a stretch of road on the southern coast Sorrentine Peninsula in Southern Italy. This makes the list simply for being one of the most beautiful and tranquil driving locations we’ve seen yet. The first Italian sports cars would have been driven on this very road, and it’s even been featured as the backdrop for fictional racetracks in the Forza and Gran Turismo game series for this exact reason.

Between the famous limoncello liqeur produced on this coast and the lush mediterranean climate, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot for a driving holiday.

 

Safe travels.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.