Dare to drive the dangerous Kemaliye Stone Road

Kemaliye Taş Yolu (Stone road of Kemaliye) is one of the most extreme roads in the world. Located in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, this handmade road is for drivers with strong nerves only, with drops of hundreds of meters unprotected by guardrails and 38 unlit tunnels. The construction of the road started in 1870 and finished in 2002.

Kemaliye Taş Yolu

Can you drive the Kemaliye Karanlık canyon?

Located on the boundary of İliç and Kemaliye districts of Erzincan Province, in the Eastern Anatolia region of the country, the Kemaliye Taş Road is totally unpaved running through a gorge carved by the Euphrates river. The road finds its way through the rocks, above the dangerous Kemaliye Karanlık Kanyon. The canyon has up to 600m of depth, making it extremely popular for base jumping and thrill-seekers. It’s said to be the second-biggest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. The road and the tunnels pass through the canyon, a rocky gorge so deep that the sun barely penetrates its bottom, with the river sauntering through it a great deal more calmly than it has any right to.

How long is the Kemaliye Taş Road?

Tucked away in the Munzur Mountains, the road is 8.7km (5,40 miles) long, running south-north from a tunnel on the paved D877 to Gümüşçeşme. This marvel of human engineering is a humbling experience. It is surreal. It’s less than 2 meters wide, with 38 tunnels of different sizes and many sharp bends and cliffs. It is not a main road so there isn’t a constant flow of traffic.

When was the Kemaliye Taş Road built?

The road was built by locals with their own hands. Its construction started in 1870. During the construction of the road, sometimes the work stopped for as much as twenty years. It's a road that was more than 130 years in the making, and when you see it you can immediately understand why. According to locals the authorities refused to build a road because of huge expenses according to hard topography. The road trundles along a ridge high above the Euphrates River, and, in the course of its progress, passes through a phenomenal 4,722 meters of separate tunnels, each one of them laboriously hacked out of the mountainside. This stone path was opened on 2nd August 2002. At the first bridge there is a memorial with a long list of the people killed while making the road and bridge.

Is the Kemaliye Taş Road dangerous?

The drive above the canyon is spectacular and hair raising with the raging Euphrates river hundreds of meters below. It’s a road with a river and walls of rocks on each side. The road challenges even the most skilled drivers and it’s perfect for those looking for an adventure on 2/4 wheels. This is a thrilling ride, but not one for the novice. Impassable for bigger vehicles: 170cm width and 220cm height limited. Due to the general surface of the road, in wet conditions the dirt can soon turn to mud. Slippery road surfaces quickly make the road inaccessible. Never try this road in winters. It is heavily used even by buses. The road is much more dangerous than the infamous Guoliang Tunnel, in China.
Pic: Abdüllatif ERKAYA