Well, I'm running down the road trying to loosen my load
April 17, 2008 9:00 PM   Subscribe

A few years ago when I was visiting Alaska, one of the more interesting portions of the trip was the 45-minute drive from Anchorage to Girdwood along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. This is one of the world's rare bodies of water that features bore tides, an amazing scene. The highway is one of only 15 roads in the United States that have been designated an "All-American Road." What about some of the world's greatest highways?

There are many roads all over the world known for their scenic beauty and stunning vistas. Following are a few that I came across ... some I've even been on.

Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
B9 from Koblenz to Bingen, Germany
Iceland Ring Road
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur, California
Columbia River Highway, Oregon

There are hundreds more great roads and highways the world over. What are some of your favorites?
posted by netbros (17 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
According to Wikipedia: "As of September 2005, there are 99 National Scenic Byways and 27 All-American Roads, located in 44 states."

That tidal bore footage is pretty cool -- I'd never heard of them before.

I'm partial to all of the roads in Montana, of course. My favorite so far: Kings Hill Scenic Byway.
posted by davidmsc at 9:28 PM on April 17, 2008

Oops. They're springing up all over the place. Thanks for the update davidmsc.
posted by netbros at 9:35 PM on April 17, 2008

My favorite is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Not only does it have an awesome name it runs next to a river where theres great swimming places and the rocks form water slides everywhere.
posted by lilkeith07 at 10:24 PM on April 17, 2008

Some drives I've enjoyed and heartily recommend:
The Road To Hana (Maui, US)
Various canyon roads north of Santa Fe (New Mexico, US)
The Valley of Nightingales (one way road up into village of Manolates on the island of Samos) (Greece)
The Sinai Peninsula (Egypt)
The Prithvi Highway (connecting Kathmandu to Pokhara) (Nepal)
Harare to Mt. Darwin (Zimbabwe)
posted by metacurious at 10:36 PM on April 17, 2008

Some drives I've enjoyed and heartily recommend:
The Road To Hana (Maui, US)

I've done the Hana highway a couple of times...but it's nothing to the road from Wailea to Hana.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:37 PM on April 17, 2008

Turnagain Arm! My family used to drive it all the time when I was a youngster--we'd end up at Portage Glacier, or sometimes continue on to Homer. I used to count waterfalls along the way (frozen ones, in the wintertime) and we'd watch for Dall sheep, bald eagles, and beluga whales. I never really appreciated its uniqueness until I moved out of state.
posted by fermion at 11:50 PM on April 17, 2008

If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance and tires appropriate for off-road, the White Rim Road is gorgeous. It dives right down into the canyons of Canyonlands National Park. Example. Example. No shoulder. Be careful!

Requires a backcountry permit. Can also be hiked or biked. I've done the former.

Watch out for piles of radioactive tailings left over from from when they mined Canyonlands for uranium in the 1950s. In this environment, the desert shrimp often found in water-filled potholes are rapidly evolving intelligence and air-breathing capacity, and will sometimes bother you at night, looking for a fourth for bridge.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:24 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I am partial to the Beartooth Highway.
posted by caddis at 12:56 AM on April 18, 2008

If you happen to be in mid-Wales and have a day, take the Elan Valley mountain road between Rhayader and Aberystwyth.

It's narrow and long and a stunningly beautiful view of the mountains in the area, and perfect in a small roadster. Just watch out for the sheep and other cars. The Devil's Bridge is along the way to Aber and makes a perfect stop for a cuppa after the drive.

My dad grew up a few miles from Rhayader, just north of Llandrindod Wells. In his teens he took part in a two-day endurance motorcycle race held on the mountain road, and he remembers it fondly as some of the best fun he's ever had.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 AM on April 18, 2008

What a great post! With a new BMW K1200GT, I am looking to explore.

While I'm an East Coaster, a West Coast favorite not already mentioned is The Ortega Highway and the Autumn along The Kangamangus Highway is short but beautiful.
posted by sfts2 at 3:42 AM on April 18, 2008

On my honeymoon, we flew to Anchorage and rented a Chevy Aveo, drove to Girdwood for two nights and then moved on to a week in Homer. I don't know that I've ever felt so vulnerable as when driving along Turnagain Arm in that tiny car, getting buffeted by 60 mile an hour winds while the mountains glowered down at us.
posted by rocketman at 8:32 AM on April 18, 2008

Schnebly Hill Road, Sedona, AZ
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:47 AM on April 18, 2008

sfts2, K1200GT?!?!
I hate you *GRIN ... one of my fond memories is running through Oklahoma, east of Tahlequah, on a 1996 K1100 RS one spring on the way home from the Blitz to Branson (here, here, and here) ... I do miss that big red bike ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 9:15 AM on April 18, 2008

Let me endorse The Great Ocean Road. I was there about a month ago and it was stunning. Oh, and yeah... the Icelandic Ring Road is pretty sweet. I know it too well to appreciate it's awesomeness, but whenever I travel it with foreigners they're amazed.
posted by Kattullus at 9:57 AM on April 18, 2008

My vote is for the Atlantic Road in Norway. Incredible construction over series of small islands and rock-outcroppings. During nasty weather, the road and bridges seem to blend into the sea. My father and I drove that road in similar conditions shown in the video about 2 years ago and we still talk about it to this day. I'd also vote for the Trollstigen (Troll's Ladder), but it was closed due to weather when we were there so I can't personally vouch for it's wonders, but am told it's not to be missed.
posted by webhund at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2008

Living in Nashville, I bike the Natchez Trace Parkway quite often. It's a gorgeous road through the heart of the country.
posted by casaubon at 12:32 PM on April 18, 2008

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