Whilst it is easy to fly across the world in a matter of hours, there is something special about extreme road trips. From a short two day trip to a much longer, sometimes years long road trip the adventure starts long before departure. If you are stuck for inspiration then have a look through this collection of epic road trips and see if there is something that takes your fancy.
READ MORE: PLANNING THE PERFECT ROAD TRIP
The Big One’s
These routes are all over 2000 miles long and require months of planning and preparation. Whilst they are huge adventures, even their component sections are long expeditions in their own right.
The Pan American Highway
This road covers nearly 30,000 kilometres and runs from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia in Argentina. The only brief interruption is the 106 kilometre Darien Gap between Central and South America. The Pan American Highway is the longest road in the world according to the Guiness Book of World Records.
Highway 1, Australia
Highway 1 in Australia, also known as the “Big Lap,” is the second longest road trip road in the world at 14500 kilometres. It joins all of the mainland territories and their capital cities. The first section between Brisbane and Adelaide was signposted in 1955 and at the time was the only main national highway across Australia (although more direct routes now criss-cross the country).
Trans-Siberian Highway, Russia
The Trans-Siberian Highway runs the entire length of Russia and is the third longest road trip roads in the world at 11000 kilometres. Starting in St. Petersburg and making its way to Vladivostok on the shore of the Sea of Japan, the Trans-Siberian Highway is a network of federal highways. It is one of the more dangerous routes and has some of the toughest environments and difficult terrain.
Western Europe-Western China (WE-WC) Highway
This transcontinental highway links China’s Yellow Sea coast with Europe. It has been nicknamed the New Silk Highway and starts in Lianyungang on the east coast of China. Covering 8445 kilometres it finishes in St Petersburg or can continue onwards to London. Including the Pamir Highway it is a modern take on a classic route.
Trans-Canada Highway, Canada
The Trans-Canada Highway is the longest road trip route in North America at 7821 kilometres starting on Vancouver Island, passing through Banff National Park before heading down onto the wide open prairies heading east finishing in St John’s, Newfoundland. This road was started in 1962 and crosses six time zones, ten Canadian provinces and reaches from the Pacific Ocean in the west across to the Atlantic Ocean in the east.
Route 20, USA
U.S. Route 20 covers 5415 kilometres, from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon and is the longest road trip route in the U.S. Originally ending at Yellowstone National Park before being extended. It crosses twelves states with an amazing range of landscapes.
Golden Quadrilateral Highway
The Golden Quadrilateral Highway is the longest road trip road in India at 4846 kilometres. Rather than one long road it is a network of highways linking Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Launched in 2001 it is made up of four, six lane express highways. Not all that exciting, but the side trips are worth exploring for a real adventure.
Route 66, USA
This route cover 2448 kilometres from Chicago to California via Arizona and lots of small unique towns for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. This isn’t a designated highway any more, but you can follow the path along the way and take a step back in time on the journey that many took to a new life.
The Technical or Complicated Road Trip Routes
The following road trips are not going to be easy. The roads are rough or just plain dangerous. The landscape is extreme with severe weather and roads that somehow cling to the land leaving minimal space for error. Some countries are more difficult to travel through, so while they are here for inspiration you really do need to do your homework and find out more about the route before committing to it and heading off.
Anabar Road, Russia
Anabar Road is an amazing ice road trip covering 4000 kilometres across Russia linking Lake Baikal (Irkutsk) and Anabar Bay in the Laptev Sea. The road is only accessible in the winter from December to March. The road is a range of surfaces from gravel and asphalt to ice passing through abandoned villages with 1000 kilometres having no mobile signal or services of any type. It is probably the world’s most northernmost road end, ending at 72°49′ North, higher than Nordkapp, Prudhoe Bay or Tuktoyatuk.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan/China
The Karakoram Highway (known informally as the KKH) is said to be the highest paved international road in the world and connects China with Pakistan across the Karakoram mountains crossing the Khunjerab Pass. This mountain pass is at 4693 metres above sea level meaning altitude sickness is a real consideration for anyone tackling the road. The road has hairpin curves and massive drop-offs with regular landslides, avalanches, floods and heavy snowfalls along its 1300 kilometres. Add the weather to the sheer drops and this road needs experience and nerves of steel to even attempt the drive.
The Dalton highway is one of the most isolated roads in the world and covers 666 kilometres linking Fairbanks to the oilfields in the north and finishing at Deadhorse. The road is paved in places and follows the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System with steep gradients, no guardrails and in the winter season over 250 large lorries who have right of way. There are three towns on the road at Coldfoot, Wiseman and Deadhorse at the end of the road within the Arctic Circle.
D915 (Bayburt-Of Road), Turkey
D915 is located on the boundary of the Black Sea region and the Northeast Anatolia region, in northeast Turkey. The road is 179 kilometres long with 29 hairpin bends and sheer drops and no guardrails. The condition of the road is bad mainly made up of rough gravel and there are limited passing places even on single track sections. Crossing the Soganli Geçidi mountain pass at 2330 metres can lead to closures due to snow as well as issues from the altitude, not a good combination.
The Nordkapp runs along the northernmost Norwegian island of Magerøya, the North Cape (or Nordkapp) and is located at 71 degrees north, the northernmost point of mainland Europe and a similar latitude to Siberia and the north of Alaska. European road E69 is reached from E6, the main road from Tromsø and ends at the Nordkapp. While this road is well laid and terminates in a visitor centre it can be an interesting drive in the winter months. Shorter than many of the routes at 616km, it is still a memorable drive.
Trans-African Highway 1, Africa
This is a network of nine road projects that cover 8636km between Cairo and Dakar. It is mainly coastal running along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa before heading south along the Atlantic coast of North-West Africa. The aim of the network is to promote trade and alleviate poverty through a managed trade corridor across the continent.
Skippers Canyon Road., New Zealand
The Skippers Canyon Road is located in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island. The road was carved by hand over 140 years ago and runs along a narrow ledge cut into a sheer cliff face. The road covers just 26 kilometers that won’t be covered by hire car insurance.
Road 622, Iceland
Road 622 is located on the coast of Dýrafjörður fjord in the Westfjords of north-western Iceland. The road is 22 kilometres long and links Þingeyri and Lokinhamrar, going along the Dýrafjördur and Arnarfjördur fjords. The road is a rough track that can only be completed at low tide as some portions are only exposed as the tide recedes. Over the winter months, storms can wash the road away and even in the summer months the rapid changes in weather can make it impassable.
The More “Doable” Ones
When the research started for the best road trips around the world it was as a plan for our own personal adventures and then got a little out of hand. While I still believe that we will hit the Pan-American Highway in 2028, this list is the road trip routes that can be completed without too much stress and with kids in tow. Some are just short road trips taking a day or less while others are scenic drives to be enjoyed over a week or longer.
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
Pacific Coast Highway, USA
The Garden Route, South Africa
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Stelvio Pass, Italy
Hidden Highway, England/Wales
Tian Men Shan Big Gate, China
Snowdonia 360, Wales
Viaduc de Millau, France
Hana Highway, USA
Slea Head Drive, Ireland
Overseas Highway, USA
Gottard Pass and Tunnel
Kings Highway, Jordan
North Coast 500, Scotland
Carretera a Punta Allen, Mexico
Adriatic Highway, Croatia
Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland
Route de Presles, France
Uspallata Pass, Chile
Pikes Peak Highway, USA
Col du Chaussy, France
Hardknott Pass, UK
Dead Sea Highway, Jordan/Israel