12 of the Most Winding Roads Around the World
By The World Geography, 21 March 2012.
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places. There are different types of roads and they are spread everywhere: over the mountains and valleys, through villages and cities... Usually in the mountains the roads are winding due to the unfavourable terrain for building. Also, these roads provide fabulous views of the surroundings and because of that, many travellers love to ride through these areas. This is a list of 12 of the most winding roads around the world, enjoy the post.
1. Stelvio Pass Road, Italy
The Stelvio Pass Road is located in eastern Alps countryside of Italy. This zig-zag road is stretching at 1.7 miles (2,7 km) above sea level has approximately 48 hairpin bends. It’s beautiful to look at from a distance, but very dangerous for drive.
The Stelvio Pass was picked by the British automotive show Top Gear as its choice for the “greatest driving road in the world”, although their search was concentrated only in Europe. This conclusion was reached after the team went in search of a road that would satisfy every “petrolhead’s” driving fantasies in the premiere of the show’s 10th season.
2. Forcella Lavardet, Italy
Forcella Lavardet is a high mountain pass located on the Dolomites-Alps at an elevation of 1.542m (5,000 ft) above the sea level, on the municipality of Vigo di Cadore (Italy).
The road, with some unpaved and gravel sections, and connecting Canale di Gorto and Campolongo, is closed to vehicles after some streams and detachments, but is passable by bike, and it includes some of the most incredible hairpins in the Carnic Alps. Located in the Seppada zone, the road is famous because of its group of 14 steep and spectacular hairpin bends, between San Pietro and the peak.
3. Col de Turini, France
Col de Turini (el. 1.607m or 5,272ft) is a high mountain pass in the Alps under the department of Alpes-Maritimes in France. It lies near Sospel, between the communes of Moulinet and La Bollène-Vésubie in the Arrondissement of Nice. It is famous for the staging of the Monte Carlo Rally which is held on the tight road with its many hairpin turns.
Until a few years ago, the Col De Turini was also driven at night, with thousands of fans watching the “Night of the Long Knives” as it was called, due to the strong high beam lights cutting through the night. The Col De Turini has also featured three times in the Tour de France (1948, 1950 and 1975) averaging 7.2% over 15.3 km when approached from the East, starting at the valley of the river Vésubie.
4. Big Gate Road, China
Big Gate Road or the Avenue Toward Heaven is located in Hunan province, the road is 10km (6.2 mi) long from top to bottom. The highest point is 1300m (4.265 ft) above sea level, and the lowest point is 200m (656 ft). The road took eight years to finish with work starting in 1998, and finishing in 2006.
The scenery looks beautiful, but take your eyes off the road for a second, and you’re on the fast way down to the bottom. The roads are scary with many twists and turns and are certainly not for the faint-hearted. Actually, Big Gate Road has exactly 99 turns.
5. Trollstigen, Norway
Trollstigen is a serpentine mountain road in Rauma, Norway, part of Norwegian National Road 63 connecting Åndalsnes in Rauma and Valldal in Norddal. It is a popular tourist attraction due to its steep incline of 9% and eleven hairpin bends up a steep mountain side. The road is narrow with many sharp bends, and although it has been widened in recent years, vehicles over 12.4 metres (40 ft) long are prohibited from driving the road. At the top there is large parking place which allows visitors to leave their cars and walk for about ten minutes to a viewing balcony which overlooks the road with its bends and the Stigfossen waterfall. Stigfossen falls 320 metres (1,050 ft) down the mountain side. The pass has an elevation of approximately 850 metres (2,800 ft).
6. Los Caracoles Pass, Chile/Argentina
This road passes through Andes between Chile and Argentina. Los Caracoles is a series of ascends with an extremely steep slope. The road has many steep slopes and sharp turns without fences security. The road is snow-covered almost all the year. Snow together with the complex natural landscape requires extreme patience and driving skill to drive in emergency situations. However, this road is maintained in working condition, which significantly reduces the number of accidents on it. Trucks and even double-decker tourist buses travel daily on this road.
7. Halsema Highway, Philippines
The highest highway in all of the Philippines, the Halsema Highway takes about six hours to traverse. Located on the island of Luzon, the Halsema Highway runs through the Central Cordillera Valley in the Philippines from Baguio to Bontoc and farther on toward Tabuk and Tuguegarao. Landslides and rock falls are common, often stranding motorists for long periods of time. Many portions of the road are still unpaved, although work is supposedly in progress to bring about some improvements, and there are plenty of drop-offs that are steep. Foggy conditions paired with the lack of much-needed guardrails in certain areas only complicate the Halsema Highway’s already dangerous conditions.
8. Transfagarasan, Romania
The Transfagarasan mountain road or national road 7C is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It is 90 km (56 miles) long and is located in Romania. It runs through the Fagaras mountains (trans + Fagaras), a part of the Transsylvanian Alps. The road connects Transsylvania with Muntenia. The Transfagarasan starts at Bascov, near Piteçti. It follows the valley of the river Argea and after mounting to the highest point, it descends to Cartisoara in the Olt valley, where the road ends.
The Transfagarasan rises to a height of 2.134 meter (7,000 ft) and has sharp hairpin turns, a challenge for every driver. The maximum speed is 40km/h (25 miles/h). The road is often closed from October till June due to the snow that is blocking the road. The road has more tunnels and viaducts than any other road in Romania. On the highest point of the Transfagarasan near Balea Lac (Balea-lake) is located the longest (875 m/0.53miles) and highest tunnel of Romania. This tunnel is the connection between Transsylvania and Walachia.
9. Grimsel Pass, Switzerland
Grimsel Pass (elevation 2.165 m or 7,100 ft) is a Swiss high mountain pass. It connects the valley of the Rhone River in the canton of Valais and the Haslital (upper valley of the Aar river) in the canton of Bern. The winding highway that traverses Grimsel Pass seems to flow like a ribbon up and down the Swiss Alps. Built in the 1890s, the much-forested road features wide, sweeping turns and offers gorgeous views of the rugged surrounding landscape, the Rhone Glacier and an assortment of glacial lakes. The last bit up to the top is especially scenic and is filled with switchbacks.
10. Atlas Mountains Road, Morocco
The Dades Gorge in Morocco is beautiful to look at, but not while you’re driving this twisty-turvy road. You could end up being part of the Gorge. You can also explore the High Atlas and its scenic appeal by driving through a switchback of hairpin curves that connect Marrakech to the pre-Sahara through the mountain range. The most spectacular drive is the Tizi n Test road, weaving its way up through the Atlas, over the Tizi n Test pass at 2092 metres (6,870 ft), then down onto the Souss plains. A more modern and fast route, though less spectacular or remote, is the Tizi n Tichka which connects Marrakech to Ouarzazate. Along the way, you can explore the superb crumbling Kasbah of Telouet - the most spectacular sight in the High Atlas.
11. Gotthard Pass, Switzerland
Gotthard Pass in Switzerland is the most famous of all Alpine passes, at an altitude of 2,108 meters (6,917 feet) above sea level. The pass links the German speaking part of the country with the Italian one. The road climbing to the pass is made up of a series of sharp bends, ending with a flat depression. Several tunnels provide access through the pass. The 15 km (9.3 mi) Gotthard Rail Tunnel was the first and opened in 1882 for railway traffic. A 16.3km (10 mi) motorway tunnel, the Gotthard Road Tunnel opened in 1980. With a length of 16.3 kilometres (10 mi) it is the third longest road tunnel in the world. Gotthard Pass has also an old cobbled stone road that has been perfectly preserved and it's a favourite among cyclists.
12. Iroha-Zaka, Japan
Iroha-Zaka is a winding road from Japan which connects central Nikko and Oku-Nikko. The road comprises of 48 curves and each corner has an ancient Japanese alphabet, starting in alphabetical order from I-ro-ha which also gave this road’s name. Iroha-zaka is actually made of two roads, one to come down and another to go up and they both have 48 curves matching the 48 letters of the ancient Japanese alphabet. This road ascends more than 1,300 feet (400 m).
[Video: Taking a little drive down the Irohazaka.]
Top image: Another view of Halsema Highway, Philippines (left) and Atlas Mountains, Morocco (right).
[Source: The World Geography. Edited. Top image, video and some links added.]