Best Driving Roads  

Various recommendations, scoured from various people/places & personal experience.

Tracks can be found here, karting tracks here, the following are road routes. The Top Gear guide to secret street circuits throughout Europe can be found here (PDF), and an index of tracks worldwide can be found here

There are some useful travel tips given here

The road maps have been organised as follows:

Other notable world class drives:

USA

  • Las Vegas to Salt Lake City - Vegas (Nevada) through the Virgin River Gorge, skimming Arizona, and on to Utah's Zion NP, Bryce NP & Capitol Reef NP. Optional detour to The Arches NP (Moab). See here for National Park pass details, and here for details on the NPs
  • redThe Red Rock Scenic Road winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, sometimes called a “museum without walls”. The road provides a stunning view of the red rocks. The Red Rock Scenic byway also passes through the Montezuma Castle National Monument and the Coconino National Forest.
  • Nevada
  • R1Miami to Key West (257km). Completed in 1938 along the course of a railroad that had been destroyed by a hurricane, the Overseas Highway (Route 1) leaps from island to island across 42 bridges through the Florida Keys.
    The journey, mostly over water, can take less than four hours, although it can take longer if you stop to enjoy the views.Go early in the morning, when the light is at its best and the commuter traffic is flowing in the other direction.
  • Route from Miami, stopping at Islamorada Fish Company at Milemarker 81.5, and Sloppy Joe’s bar on Duval Street, Key West. Click here for the Times article.
  • The Carolina Crossing: Charleston to Cherokee (1,600km). Click here for the Times article.
  • NEW ENGLAND IN FALL: Litchfield to Lincoln (400km). Click here for the Times article.
  • Key West Alternative - The Tamiami Trail. Distance: 275 miles in 2 days
    From Tampa to Miami through Gibsonton, a retirement community for sideshow freaks - see the Showtown Bar and Grill. Continue south along the Redneck Riviera to Fort Myers Beach and on to Naples. Spend the night in Everglades City at the Rod and Gun Club Stop off at America's smallest post office (mile marker 79.1), the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters (E), Indian Gator Wrestling (mile marker 70), and Gator Park Airboat Tours (F). Finish in South Beach, Miami
  • HIGHWAY 1 San Francisco to Los Angeles. Go during the week, when there’s less traffic, and drive from north to south, so you’re on the ocean side of the road.
  • Alternative Highway 1 route - San Francisco to Eureka. Distance: 360 miles. It’s the same road, but in the opposite direction. Start early & breakfast at the Station House Cafe, in Point Reyes Station (location for the film The Fog). On to Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed The Birds). Spend the night in Mendocino, the northern Californian seaside town. Try Nic Petti’s crab cakes at Mendo Bistro and look out for migrating grey whales as you continue north to Rockport. The coast road then swings inland to join the 101. This is Redwood country, so get the obligatory photograph at the Chandelier Drive-Thru tree in Leggett, then detour at Redway for the 31-mile Avenue of the Giants. Watch for the Mattole Road on your left past Weott. This is rated by National Geographic as one of America’s finest scenic routes, looping along the Lost Coast to Cape Mendocino, California’s seismic westernmost point, to Eureka and the Bayview Motel
  • America's Highway 50, crossing the Nevada desert
  • Death Valley, California
  • Highway 49, Auburn to Aunurn Ravine, CA. Featured in the Vin Diesel Movie xXx Hairpins and cliff side banks.
  • See also roadtripusa

AUSTRALIA

  • The Nullarbor route A 4 day, 1,250-mile slog from Ceduna, South Australia, to Perth, Western Australia. It’s hot and dull, but boredom can be fatal, use the rest stops, drink lots of coffee and, as there’s no radio reception, load up with music before you go.
  • The alternative to the above - The Australia Trail Distance:1,171 miles Time:11 days 4WD recommended. From Darwin, through the Kakadu National Park to Katherine. Canoe the Katherine Gorge. Take a 180-mile run on the Victoria Highway to Timber Creek and on to Kununurra. Take the unsealed Gibb River Road for 400 miles across the Kimberley, allowing 5 days to make the crossing and make sure that you’re carrying sufficient food and water for any unexpected delays. Camp! Finish at Derby, 90 miles from Broome.
  • The Savannah Way: Cairns to Broome (3,700km) - Drive the Savannah Way over the dry, cool May-to-September months. Click here for the Times article.
  • Sydney to Thredbo is stunning and not what most people picture Oz to be like
    Lakes Entrance is a nice spot on the coast. Yarra Valley for its scenery and wine tours. Philip island race track, stay overnight in Cowes. Lorne & Apollo Bay. See The Great Ocean Road for more details, or the Google Map here
    The Great Ocean Road is more than a road – it’s a whole region, stretching from Geelong near Melbourne, westwards to the Victorian-South Australian border. With impressive ocean views all along the way, you’ll also encounter a number of sights along the road ranging from resort towns and lighthouses to the Otways rain forest.
  • Torquay to Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia

OTHERS

  • millauThe Millau Viaduct is the worlds tallest vehicular bridge. Spanning the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France, this cable stayed road bridge first opened for traffic on 16 December 2004. The roadway has a slight slope of 3% descending from south to north, and curves in plan section on a 20 km (12.4 mile) radius to give drivers better visibility. It carries two lanes of traffic in each direction.
  • Pasubio (Vicenza), Northern Italy - a hiking trail made out of an ancient road
  • Gergen to Oslo, Norway
  • atlantic The Atlantic Road, Norway, was voted as the Norwegian construction of the century and is a five mile long stretch of road connecting Molde and Kristiansund. The road rides above some rough and uneven surfaces and it’s spectacular because it rises and falls like a sea itself. Stunning scenery.
    Google map here
  • norwayTrollstigen in Norway
    The Trollstigen or ‘The Troll Ladder’, is a steep (9%) winding mountain road located in the Rauma region of Norway. Drivers are rewarded with a viewing balcony at the top, offering views of the winding road and the Stigfossen waterfall which also runs down the mountainside. Google map here
  • Lysebotn Road, Norway
    The Lysebotn Road in Lysefjord, Norway includes Lysebotn27 hairpins and an impressive 1.1 km long tunnel at the bottom - with 3 hairpins of its own. The last 30 km (18 miles) to Lysebotn is a roller-coaster. The road ends with a 27 hairpin serpentine road taking you from 1000 meters (3280 ft) above sea level down to Lysebotn and the Lysefjord. At the end of the serpentine road you go through a tunnel that turns 340 degrees through the mountain. Google map link here
  • Hairy Bikers Bakeation - Norwegian route here
  • Transfăgărășan, Romania. The highest road in Romania, it reaches almost 2000 m above the sea level & connects Muntenia and Transilvania, two historic parts of Romania. At its top you can find Lake Balea, a glaciar lake formes thousands of years ago. The ruins of Poienari Castle, Vlad the Impaler’s real castle, also lie on this route.
  • Down South Island (534km), NZ - Karamea , Westport, Bay House cafe, Punakaiki. The highway turns inland at Haast; leave it to follow the tiny oceanside road to Jackson’s Bay - have some fish and chips from the caravan there. Google Map here. Click here for the Times article.
  • Twizel to Queenstown, New Zealand
  • Havana to Pinar del Rio, Cuba.
  • boliviaEl Camino de la Muerte, Bolivia
    Deep into the Bolivian Andes is the North Yungas Road, the road covers a 70km stretch between La Paz and Coriocco over a decent of 3,600m which pits drivers against terrifyingly tight hairpins and narrow passages. All whilst trying to avoid a 800 m sheer drop. On average, there is a fatal accident every couple of weeks, with the visible remains of numerous lorries and buses at the bottom of the abyss..
  • El Espinazo Del diablo, Mexico (The devil’s backbone)
  • andesLos Caracoles Pass in Andes
    The Los Caracoles passes through the Andreas Mountains on the way between Chile and Argentina.The pass features a number of sharp hairpins, with no safety barriers and snow forecast for most of the year. A double-decker tourist buses travels the route on a daily basis.
  • Leh–Manali Highway, India
  • Russia’s Lena Highway, the Highway from Hell
  • Russian-Georgian “Military” Mountain Roads (to be tackled only by the Russian military)
  • Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
    chinaLocated high in the Taihanf Mountains in the Hunan Province of China. Built by 13 local villagers, the tunnel took around 5 years to build and cost the lives of many villagers in the process. At 1200m long by 5m high and 4m wide, the tunnel has earned its name as one of the most dangerous roads in the world, but hugely popular among Chinese tourists and is a stunningly beautiful scenic route.
  • Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan (Chungheng)
  • The Halsema Highway in the Philippines, also called the Baguio-Bontoc Road
  • Van Zyl’s Pass, Namibia, a classic extreme road
  • Cape Town to Kruger National Park - see here for details, or here for the Google map. Click here for the Times article.
  • The South Africa Garden route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town - see here for details, or here for the Google Map
  • Cape Town to Franschhoek, over the Helshoogte pass, South Africa
  • mauiHana Highway, Maui.
    The Hana Highway is a 60 mile stretch of road that connects the small town of Hana to the rest of Maui. The Hana Highway winds its way past waterfalls, beaches, bridges and spectacular ocean views. With it’s 600 hairpin turns and 54 one-lane bridges, blind bends, and narrow pavement edged by cliffs, the Hana Highway makes for a challenging yet satisfying ocean drive.
  • japan Iroha-zaka, Japan
    The winding road of the Iroha-zaka is the main route that connects central Nikko and Oku-Nikko. Actually made of two roads, one to come down and another to go up, comprising of 48 curves, the road has an ancient Japanese alphabet character displayed on each corner starting with l-ro-ha (hence the name).
  • Toyo Tires Turnpike, Hakone, Japan. See the Google Map here, and a review here.
  • Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road,
    United Arab Emirates (UAE)
    The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road spans 7.3 miles and climbs nearly 4,000 feet, uaeboasting 60 corners. The road is cut into the Jebel Hafeet mountain that spans the border with Oman and lies about 90 minutes’ drive south-east of the thriving city of Dubai. The road is a mixture of fast straights interspersed with sweeping curves that merge perfectly from one to another.
  • Leh–Manali Highway, India -  crosses some of the highest mountain passes in the world.

For more websites with more ideas, see my link page here. See also the Top Gear article here (JPG image) and the following extracts (these routes are all included in the lists above).


In search of highways to heaven

The Times, THURSDAY MAY 10 2001
BY ANDREW NORFOLK


LONELY 45-mile stretch of road in the northern Pennines has been catapulted to fame after appearing on a list of the world's most beautiful drives.

The winding journey from Penrith to Corbridge was the only English route to be chosen by the Automobile Association for its Ten Great Drives list. It also chose a road in Scotland and another in Wales.

Other entries ranged from a spectacular Alpine road in France to America's famous Highway 50, which crosses the Nevada desert.

For Cumbria and Northumberland, whose tourist economies have been hit hard by the impact of foot-and-mouth disease, the AA's decision to highlight the cross-county route came as a welcome boost. The Northumbria Tourist Board said yesterday that it was delighted to be on the list.

The list of "the world's most beautiful roads", published in the AA magazine, describes the Penrith to Corbridge journey as a trip through "England's last great wilderness"

The route, which is mainly along the A686, passes across the River Eden valley, then climbs from Melmerby to Hartside Cross, 1,900ft above sea level "with stunning views across Solway Firth to Scotland". It continues to Alston, "a charming little place with cobbled streets" which is the highest market town in England, then crosses "another breathtaking expanse of windswept upland before running down to the River Allen's beautiful wooded gorge", finally passing through Hexham to Corbridge.

Neil Wishart, landlord of the roadside Carts Bog Inn, said that he was already anticipating extra visitors.

Mr Wishart, who has lived and worked alongside the road for 13 years, said that the route was already popular with driving enthusiasts, including motorcyclists from Germany and Scandinavia. "Some of the manufacturers use it to test their cars and at weekends we see E-type Jaguars, Lamborghinis and Porsches out to stretch their legs," he said. "The road goes over the backbone of the Pennines. On a clear day there are beautiful views."

The Welsh road included on the list is the 55-mile journey from the small border town of Presteigne to Aberystwyth on the coast. In Scotland the AA opted for a 320-mile trek with "spellbinding scenery" from Fort William to Tongue.

Also in the top ten are three French roads, including the Great Alpine Road from Evian to Nice, and one each in Ireland, Spain, Germany and the United States.

Jeremy Clarkson, the motoring broadcaster, said that his favourite British road was not the Penrith to Corbridge route - "a good road, but too busy" - but, instead, Buttertubs Pass between Hawes and Thwaite in the Yorkshire Dales. "It's England's only truly spectacular road," he said.

"I once raced a helicopter in a Jaguar along there. You can do it in ten minutes if you really cane it, but you do tend to hit a few sheep."


Mazda6 - Six Of The Best Roads

This website actually describes a journey from St Andrews, down the western side of the UK, flowing through:

1. A68, Edinburgh. Crossing the Forth road bridge, with the famous rail bridge alongside, past Edinburgh taking the A68, towards the Borders.Past Jedburgh, heading for the Cheviot Hills, Northumberland and England.

2. B6318, Otterburn.Take the A696 where the road splits at Otterburn, then cross-country on the squiggly B6309 to the B6318. Often it’s arrow straight, but never boring as it climbs and dips through wild, beautiful countryside. What makes the B6318 special is what runs alongside Hadrian’s Wall and the old Roman forts at Chesters, Housesteads and Vindolanda.

3. A686, Gilderdale Forest - Penrith. From halfway along the Wall, turn south west onto one of the best of all British roads, the A686, over the fells, through Gilderdale Forest to Penrith.

4. A6, Penrith-Kendal For over thirty miles the A6 winds across moors and fells. This road was the main North-South road before the M6 was built.From Penrith it climbs steadily until the village of Shap. At over 1300 feet, Shap Summit is the highest point, and in winter one of the wildest. There's a spectacular run into Kendal with huge views and more great driving. It’s an ancient town, largest in Westmorland and eastern gateway to the Lake district.

From Kendal take the M6 for a fast run past Lancaster, Preston, Wigan and Warrington, then switch motorways, west towards Chester on the M56, south on the M53, to the A483 - winding south along the Welsh borders in and out of Wales itself, past Wrexham, Oswestry, Welshpool, Newtown, Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells. And finally, cross-country towards Brecon, along a few miles of A40.

5. B4560, Brecon

6. A272, Winchester. Leave Wales by the A40 and A449, onto the M4 over the new Severn bridge. And a choice of great roads:

a. west again and Devon and Cornwall are packed with options

b. east towards Salisbury Plain,

c. Winchester. and the A272, this runs from Winchester to east of Uckfield. It was the major part of the old Pilgrim’s route between Canterbury and Winchester.

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