Whether it’s Utah or Iceland, something about a seemingly endless and open road makes me want to travel.
Ruta 23, Argentina
This view of Mt. Fitz Roy on the road into Chaltén, Patagonia
, Argentina, has become one of the most iconic images of South America. Perhaps even more open than the road into Chaltén is the Ruta 40 (pictured further down), Argentina's principal North / South highway, still unpaved in sections.
Photo: Nestor Galina
Milford Road, New Zealand
The Milford Road crosses Fiordland and some of the Southern Alps of New Zealand
Panamericana Sur, Peru
The Panamericana describes the unofficial "system" of highways which, if connected all together, form the world's longest road, a route from Alaska to Argentina (nearly 30,000 miles) with the only non-driveable part being the Darien Gap in Colombia. This shot is near Nazca, Peru
, which takes its name from the Nazca people who drew massive figures and lines in the desert.
Photo: Laurence Edmondson
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Cabot Trail is an 185-mile scenic loop through the northern tip of Nova Scotia
, with part of the loop running through Cape Breton Highlands National Park and some of the most undeveloped stretches of coastline left on the Atlantic.
Service Road, Denali National Park
The east side of Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park. Note that for almost the entire summer season, private vehicles are not allowed on the road. However, there's a lottery
each year, the winners of which can purchase permits to drive the road in September (weather permitting).
Photo: Nic McPhee
South Dakota Hwy 240 through Badlands NP
The Badlands feel otherworldly
and ancient almost more than anyplace I've ever been. Give yourself time to stop and climb up on the mesas and other features, reminding yourself it was all ancient seafloors at one time.
Photo: Sam Kulpinski
This is the highest point -- Urdele Pass -- on the Transalpina in the Southern Carpathians of Romania.
Photo: Paul Bica
Atlantic Road, Norway
The Atlantic Road connects archipelago islands in northwestern Norway and features Storseisundet Bridge, pictured below.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Running from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah N.P. in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mine drive that traverses many of the last remaining wilderness areas in Southern Appalachia. Because the speed limit along the entire parkway is 45 mph and there are regular turnoffs for trails, overlooks, and facilities such as folk art and nature centers, the Parkway has a "national park" feel even though it's technically a scenic drive. The bridge pictured is the Linn Cove Viaduct, an elevated section of the parkway wrapping around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
Photo: David Joyce
Ruta 40, Patagonia
At over 3,000 miles, the Ruta 40
through Argentina is the longest continuous section of highway in the Panamericana. South of Rio Negro province, the 40 has long stretches between towns / services, and there are still many sections left unpaved. Bring plenty of water.
Photo: Al Mackinnon
Until you've been to the Middle East
, you may have preconceptions of the terrain as "small." In fact, both Israel and Palestine have incredible open spaces. From photographer JJ Merelo: "the winding high road, in the middle of the Palestine desert, heading toward Mar Saba."
Photo: JJ Merelo
Columbia River Gorge
There's interstate running through the Columbia River Gorge (I-84), but the real access comes through several side roads that lead to various canyons, waterfalls
, and points along the river.
Photo: Jan Tik
has some of the best access to backcountry and wilderness of anyplace on earth. It's the gateway to Aconcagua, the Western and Southern Hemispheres' tallest mountain. There are immense, wide open roads to travel throughout the region; especially recommended is taking the pass (Paso Internacional Los Libertadores
) if you have the opportunity to drive between Santiago and Mendoza.
Whiteface Memorial Highway, New York
People who haven't visited New York may only associate the state with urban areas. There's actually a surprising amount of Appalachian wilderness once you get out of the city. Pictured below is Whiteface Mountain's "Wishbone."
Photo: Tony Fischer
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
There are makeshift roads across the salt flats
in southwest Bolivia, but the terrain is so wide, open, and flat that lane markers and right-of-ways hold no meaning.
State Route 12, Utah
Running though some of the most concentrated sections of wilderness and national parks in the desert Southwest, State Route 12 goes for 122 miles across part of Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon National Park, as well as various parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, before ending five miles west of Capitol Reef National Park.
Photo: Wolfgang Staudt
Powder Highway, British Columbia, Canada
Less a single official highway than a series of interconnected roads in British Columbia, the Powder Highway
connects several epic mountain towns, including Revelstoke, Fernie, and Golden, with some of the best snow sports conditions, infrastructure, and backcountry access in the world.
Hawaii State Hwy 378, Maui
Also known as the Haleakala Highway, this road leads to the summit of the giant volcano that defines the topography of the island.
Photo: Maik-T. Šebenik
, seems almost made for road trips unlike anywhere else I've been. When you get away from the coast and into the Sierra (as in this image of Rumorosa in Baja California Norte), the crowds will drop away fast.
Photo: Cesar Bojorquez
If you take some of the blue highways off Interstate 5, you'll find eastern Oregon has huge open spaces and sparse population.
Photo: Robert Hamilton
This stretch of highway in southern Iceland
traverses a seemingly endless moorland.
Photo: Andrea de Poda
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
Tagged as the highest paved road in the world, the Karakoram Highway
connects China and Pakistan, traversing mountain passes as high as 15,397ft.
Photo: Jialiang Gao
Photographer's note: "A simple road anywhere in Iran. View of the beauty of nothing, peace, and dense smoking trucks in front."
Photo: Kuster & Wildhaber Photography
Neuquén is the northern limit of Patagonia and is often overlooked by travelers heading to more famous spots around Bariloche, or points further south.Photo: Fainmen
Trollstigen or "Troll's Footpath" is the section of Norway's National Road 63 that ascends a massive gorge.
Photo: Jean-Baptiste Bellet
Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
is a super isolated sandstone rock formation in central Australia 280 miles from the nearest large town.
Photo: Joan Campderrós-i-Canas
Utah Hwy 163, Monument Valley
One of the most iconic sections of road in the US, Utah's Monument Valley.
California Hwy 236
The terrain doesn't have to be barren for a road to still feel "open." Here's California Hwy 236, heading towards Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Photo: Javi S & M
About 60 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona. A sparsely settled area near the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant. Something about sepia works with this image.
Photo: Tony Fischer Photography
Highway 13, Laos
Highway 13 traverses the entire country from north to south. Pictured below is a stretch just outside of Kasi, between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang
Photo: Prince Roy
Nevada Hwy 374
This is the Doris Montgomery Pass on Nevada Hwy 374 leaving Beatty and going to Death Valley. Halfway up in the frame (there's a thin line visible in the middle of the valley) is the boundary to Death Valley National Park.
Photo: Mark Holloway
N1 Road, Iceland
N1, or the Ring Road, runs around Iceland, connecting most of the populous parts of the country. That said, many sections are just wide open spaces.
Photo: Alberto Carrasco Casado
Avenue of the Baobabs
Lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar, the Avenue of the Baobabs
is one of the most iconic roads in the world, and yet isn't a national park or any kind of organized tourist destination.
One of the classic routes traversing the entire US, I-40 road conditions can range from ugly traffic to wide open solitary moments such as this one in north-central Arizona, near Flagstaff.
Photo: Nicholas T
Probably the oldest road in this collection, the Silk Road began during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE) in China, evolving as a system of interlinking trade routes that eventually ran more than 4000 miles across the Afro-Eurasian landmass, connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa. Now you can find sections of it as open paved highway.
Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read
When I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, I found Pennsylvania to have the most surprises as far as towns, terrains, and roads. You'd drop down the gaps after long sections hiking the Allegheny Plateau, and never know what you'd find in the valleys -- dilapidated coal mining towns, Superfund sites, dank highways where nobody would pick you up, or -- sometimes -- these quiet open spaces where you'd see coyote tracks in the snow.
Photo: Nicholas T
California 139 is a two-lane road that cuts through the Modoc National Forest and passes near Antelope Mountain and Tule Lake, and connects Reno, Nevada with Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Photo: J Cook Fisher
Mystery location, US plains
Couldn't find the location on this post, but I love the imagery of the open gates and the road leading onward.
Photo: Jono Mueller
The Flatruetvägen, Sweden
From the photographer: "The Flatruetvägen is Sweden's highest road at about 975m above sea level and stretches unpaved thru a tundra-like area populated by very few people and a bunch of reindeer."
Photo: Michael Grube