The Ultimate Road Trip Bucket List: 11 Must-Drive Highways Before You Die

When you think of a “highway,” you might envision an unending road with repetitive fast food joints and gas stations every few miles. However, just as automakers have created countless variations of vehicles, road builders have ingeniously devised numerous ways to connect different places. These eleven highways from around the globe offer exhilarating experiences, ranging from high speeds and breathtaking scenery to massive scale and inherent danger. They are all worth embarking on for an unforgettable drive.

The Pan American Highway - A Monumental Journey

Route of the Pan-American Highway. Includes original route and unofficial extensions but doesn't reflect official designation of U.S. interstate highway system. Hotine Oblique Mercator Two Point Natural Origin Projection.

The Pan American Highway, initially proposed in 1923, holds the distinction of being the longest highway system worldwide, spanning a staggering distance of approximately 16,000 miles. Adventurous drivers who embark on this epic route traverse 16 countries, including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, and Peru, among others. It’s a truly monumental expedition.

Highway 401 - North America's Busiest Thoroughfare

Highway 401 at the start of the primary Collector/Express system in Toronto.

Highway 401, also known as the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, claims the title of the busiest highway in North America. Every day, an astounding 420,000 vehicles traverse its 500-mile stretch. Since its completion in the 1960s, this vital road has served drivers in the southern, central, and eastern regions of Ontario, Canada.

The German Autobahns - A Need for Speed

The Autobahn south of Nürnberg, Germany

Renowned as the fastest highways in the world, the German autobahns are strictly reserved for cars. In fact, bicycles, mopeds, pedestrians, and any vehicles incapable of exceeding 38 mph are prohibited from entering. Coordinated nationally under the name Bundesautobahn (BAB), which translates to the federal way for cars, approximately 52 percent of the autobahn network has no official speed limit. However, a recommended top speed of 81 mph is advised. Due to the high velocities maintained by most vehicles on the autobahn, it is illegal to stop unnecessarily on the motorway, even in the case of running out of fuel.

The Trollstigen - Majestic Mountain Vistas

Trollstigen; Wasserfall & Brücke Stigfossbrua, Norwegen

Coursing through Norway’s majestic mountains, the Trollstigen, or Troll’s Path, is a beloved tourist destination renowned for the awe-inspiring views it offers of local waterfalls and the bridges that traverse the rivers they feed. After eight years of construction, this road opened in 1936 but is closed from October to May due to impassable winter conditions.

The Guoliang Tunnel - A Mountain-Carved Wonder

Guoliang tunnel road

In China’s Taihang mountains, an extraordinary 4,000-feet long road named the Guoliang Tunnel was hand-carved by local villagers themselves. Thirteen villagers initiated this remarkable project in 1972, laboriously carving a road along the mountainside to connect their secluded village with the outside world. On May 1, 1977, the road was finally opened, welcoming travelers to witness this incredible human achievement.

The Big Dig - A Monumental and Pricey Undertaking

Boston’s Big Dig, initiated in 1991, was estimated to cost $2.8 billion in 1985 but ultimately skyrocketed to a staggering $14.8 billion. This ambitious project stands as the most expensive highway endeavor in history. Unfortunately, the construction process led to the fatal injuries of four workers and the death of a motorist due to the collapse of a concrete panel. The expressway system was finally completed in 2007.

Yungas Road - The Deadliest Path Ever Constructed

Yunga road between La Paz and Coroico.

Measuring less than 50 miles in length and barely ten feet wide, Bolivia’s Yungas Road claims the grim distinction of being the deadliest road ever built, taking the lives of an estimated 200 to 300 travelers each year. Constructed in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners of war, this treacherous road stretches from the city of La Paz to the Yungas region. In 1995, the Inter-American Development Bank declared it the most dangerous road in the world, a title it has tragically maintained.

The Katy Freeway - A Highway of Grand Proportions

Boasting a staggering 26 lanes in certain sections, the Katy Freeway, also known as Interstate 10, holds the distinction of being the widest highway in the world. It accommodates over 219,000 vehicles daily in Texas. Constructed in the 1960s, Interstate 10 stretches across a 23-mile span, from its intersection with Interstate 610 to the city of Katy, Texas.

The Karakoram Highway - A Spectacular High-Altitude Passage

Karakoram Highway in Xinjiang province (China).

The Karakoram Highway, running at an elevation of 16,000 feet through the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Pamir Mountains, stands as the highest paved highway in the world. This remarkable road stretches for 500 miles and connects the Xinjiang region of China with Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The Indus River also accompanies parts of this breathtaking journey. In 1986, the Karakoram Highway officially opened, fulfilling an agreement between Pakistan and China to create a road that would mutually benefit both countries.

Hong Kong's Tuen Mun Road - A Haunted Highway

Ting Kau Section of Tuen Mun Road

Built in 1977 to link the Chinese regions of Tuen Mon and Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong’s Tuen Mun Road has gained notoriety for its high incidence of accidents. Drivers often attribute these mishaps to an eerie culprit: the road is believed to be haunted by the spirits of those who lost their lives while traveling on it. Local lore tells tales of these apparitions appearing in the middle of traffic, causing cars to veer out of control.

Roadways with No Limits - Unleash Your Inner Speedster

The B.P. Koirala Highway, also known as the Banepa Bardibas Highway, is a highway in eastern Nepal.

Only a few roadways in the world embrace the thrill of unrestricted speeds. In Nepal, the Isle of Man, and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Kerala, drivers can unleash their need for speed, as there are no official speed limits on these highways. It’s an adrenaline-fueled experience where you can push the pedal to the metal and embrace the exhilaration of unrestricted velocity.

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