Avid drivers love finding that distinctive road that epitomizes a state or country, whether they prefer a slow winding path or hearing the roar of the engine. From scenic highways winding through the mountains to disused racetracks, these are some of the best drives in the world.
1. Alaska – Denali Highway
Despite its official status as a highway, the Denali is gravel for much of its length. Drivers should choose vehicles that can handle its uneven surface. Once on the road, however, they’ll get to enjoy 35 miles of road winding through largely-untouched wilderness.
The highway goes from Cantwell Junction to Paxson Junction and was originally built in the late 1950s to provide access to Denali National Park. By the early 1970s, it was no longer used extensively, since the newer George Parks Highway provided better access. The Denali Highway is closed during the winter.
2. Argentina – Ruta 40
This long highway runs the full length of Argentina, from La Quiaca south to Cabo Virgenes. Offering more than 3,000 miles of road, Ruta 30 stays parallel to the impressive Andes mountains and crosses a huge number of bridges. It passes through many national parks and nearby or over lakes, rivers and mountain passes.
The southern end of Ruta 40 is at about sea level, but the northern end is located at over 16,000 feet of altitude, offering dramatic views. Most of this highway has been paved, but there are a few unpaved stretches where drivers should be careful.
3. Arizona to Montana – Highway 89
Route 89 is a U.S. highway running north-south between Flagstaff Arizona and the Canadian border in Montana. The southern part of this road covers almost 850 miles from Arizona to Yellowstone National Park, passing through a range of geological wonders. Drivers have the chance to see the Great Salt Lake, volcanic plateaus and much more.
4. France – Col de Turini
This high mountain pass isn’t for those with vertigo or a fear of heights. It reaches elevations of over 5,000 feet and includes a huge number of hairpin turns protected by very minimal barriers. Considered one of the high points of January’s Monte Carlo, the Col de Turini covers 14.5 miles and is extremely challenging.
5. Germany – Nüburgring
This road was built in the mid to late 1920s specifically for the German Grand Prix, and was meant to show off the country’s skill with cars. Considered one of the most challenging deliberately-built racetracks in the world, the Nüburgring includes a large number of blind curves. In 1984, the original track was replaced by new construction.
The original 13 mile track, called the northern loop or Nordschliefe, is closed most of the time but opens to the public as a toll road on occasion, making it a desirable site for drivers. Like many other highways in Germany, the Nüburgring has no speed limit. Drivers should still adhere to local driving laws and are prohibited from unlicensed racing.
6. Isle of Man – A18 Snaefell Mountain Road
A prized destination for motorsport enthusiasts since the early 1900s, the Isle of Man offers a range of attractive driving roads, including the 15 mile A18. This road runs between Ramsey and Douglas and is used as the racing route for motorcycles in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, as well as in the 14-day Manx Grand Prix.
7. Morocco – Atlas Mountains
The N9 south from Marrakech to Ouarzazate in morocco provides a skill-testing set of turns, twists and curves that aren’t for the faint of heart. The drive is completely worthwhile, however, as the ascent into the Atlas Mountains over this 117 mile track provides movie-quality vistas.
8. Norway – E6
This endurance highway starts in the southern part of Norway and heads all the way north to the Arctic Circle at Nordkapp. The E6 spans nearly 1,300 miles and passes through fishing villages, forests, mountainous scenery and the tundra. Drivers on this highway can expect to see beautiful vistas, including fjords, glaciers and the northern lights. Driving the full length of the E6 takes at least 36 hours. In summer, much of the route is entirely in daylight.
9. Switzerland to Italy – Davos to Stelvio via Bormio
This early 19th century road ascends to heights that no modern highway would dare, zig-zagging through the eastern Alps. It includes 60 hairpin turns and altitudes over 9,000 feet over the course of just 90 miles. Low-powered cars and timid drivers need not apply. This impractical road doesn’t see a lot of traffic now that modern alternatives are available, so most adventurous travelers will have the mountain views to themselves.
10. Wales – B4560
This narrow road winds through the Blakc Mountains and Brecon beacons National Park, offering a combination of exciting challenges and country views. The most beautiful portion of this 17 mile road is between Bwlch and Llangynidr.