Five of the Most Unsung Beautiful Roads in the World
There are many ways to get an adrenaline-charged quickie boost. Some people dive out of airplanes at high elevation. Some ski at high elevations. Some dive deep below the oceans in search of beautiful coral or other sunken treasures. Readers of this site know that for many driving or hiking the world’s most treacherous roads is a quickie boost in and of itself.
Beauty without the Treachery
In this article, we will talk about a few unsung high roads. They are unsung because all they have to offer is beauty. They are not any more dangerous than any low elevation road! So, if your desire is simply to take the high road without the fear of falling off the edge of the world, these roads are for you!
Mt. Evans boasts the highest paved road in the continental United States. The road soars above the clouds at over 14,000 feet or 4350 meters. The road is a beautiful work of civil engineering with perfect curves and wide lanes. In addition to being such a high elevation road, highway 5 in Colorado has one other thing in its favor: it is so close to Denver, the largest city in the US state of Colorado, that it gives a fantastic aerial view of a large North American metropolitan area. The best time to travel to the summit of Mt Evans is in the summer. It is best to try to time your trip up the mountain for a day when thunderstorms are expected in the “low country” around Denver. There are few quickie boosts better than watching a thunderstorm unfold below as you sit under a sun-kissed blue sky at 14,000 feet!
Maaleh Gilboa Road, Israel
The highest peak in Israel is Mt. Hermon but it is also a restricted military area. The so-called mountain roads in Israel are not mountainous in any real sense. The Maaleh Gilboa Road leads to the nondescript village of Maaleh Gilboa. However, this road offers wide vistas across the eastern Jezreel Valley. The War of Armageddon will be fought as described in the Bible in this valley. As the road winds slowly up into the Gilboa Mountains, you can see the broad expanse of the valley up to the southern reaches of the Sea of Galilee. Much of the history of the Bible after the sojourn of the Hebrew tribes as told in the Books of Moses took place in or around these hills and the broad valley below. So, the view from the road may be of greatest interest to Christians and Jews but as so much history that still affects the world took place here, it should be of interest to all travelers in the Middle East.
High Junk Peak
There is nothing junky about High Junk Peak in Hong Kong. When people think about Hong Kong they usually think about British colonialism, capitalism on steroids, and the little guy of Hong Kong versus the monolithic mainland Chinese government. High Junk Peak puts all of the geo-political stuff aside. The peak is a fairly easy hike to the summit. There isn’t a road so you get to slowly take in the grand natural beauty of the sea to the south of mainland China and the vast greenness of this semi-tropical land. The hike is a perfect way to get a quickie boost in Hong Kong. The trail has a very gradual climb of about 400 meters so it is accessible to all but the most beginning beginners. The hike stretches for about 6 kilometers. There is a road along the coast at the end of the hike so you can travel back via modern transport!
Get into the Mountains in the Autumn
Autumn is the season when leaves turn all different colors. While these colors are beautiful at lower elevations, it is at higher elevations looking down into the valleys and coastal regions that fall colors take us on a magical and mystical tour! Our favorite place to see the change of colors in the United States is in coastal Maine just north of the small town of Camden. Camden is one of those touristy New England towns that increase dramatically in population during the summer. However, it is just far enough away from the megalopolis to the south that the big city people go to see the changes in colors closer to home. That leaves Camden to its own residents and the few tourists to awe and ahh at the beauty all around them. Just to the north of Camden is a state park. The elevation not very high but the views the elevation affords are spectacular. You will be looking down upon the village from a few hundred meters above. In addition, the islands off the coast of Maine will beckon. Finally, the vast ocean seems ever vaster when seen from atop a low mountain!
Ireland is known far and wide as the Emerald Island. It is not famous for grand mountain roads. However, Conor Pass road leads you through some of the most beautiful countryside anywhere. The road begins on the Dingle Peninsula which is one of the land masses that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean in the southwestern part of the country. There aren’t many bright sunny days along the Conor Pass road but there aren’t many stormy days either. More than likely, you’ll be driving through a light drizzle, a fine mist, or just an overcast sky. At any rate, the beauty of the road is the green all around and the views of the valleys below. While this road is nowhere near the top of the list of dangerous roads it is very narrow so you have to take every curve slowly and when two cars come from different directions it can get somewhat sticky.
The Roads Less Travelled
Certainly the thrill of travelling a dangerous high mountain road provides an adrenalin rush that few other activities can offer. Still, there is much to be said for driving or hiking beautiful roads with beautiful views but with a lot less danger to go with the beauty!