Driving the world’s loneliest roads

photo by CC user Ron Reiring on Flickr

Looking to really get away from it all? Driving the world’s loneliest roads will do the trick. Stock up on supplies and extra memory cards before heading out on a journey on the following strips of gravel, dirt and pavement…

Dempster Highway, Yukon/Northwest Territories, Canada

Beginning just outside of Dawson City in the Klondike in Northern Canada, the Dempster Highway has tempted many travelers heading towards the Frontier State on the Alaska Highway.

While those that are considering driving this road need to take their pre-trip preparations seriously, the beauty of the route make these efforts well worth the trouble of procuring the necessary provisions.

The Richardson Mountains, the sight of tundra bushes changing color in the Autumn, the novelty of crossing the Arctic Circle, experiencing the Midnight Sun, dipping your hand in the Arctic Ocean … all of these are rewards that await you as you drive along its 671 kilometre length, which is an all-weather gravel road (except for a few paved sections) that can be driven year round.

US Route 50, Nevada, USA

Dubbed “The Loneliest Road in America” by LIFE Magazine in the 1980’s, the solitude of Nevada’s portion of US 50 has drawn road trippers to this part of America for more than a generation.

Passing through 658 kilometres through this state’s portion of the Great Basin Desert, and also winding its way through 17 mountain passes that take the road above 7,000 feet at its highest point, US 50 only calls on three towns along the way: Austin, Eureka, and Ely.

Long straight stretches through plains filled with nothing but cacti and sagebrush, mountain fronts that boast a thin but majestic coating of snow in the winter, and hours of driving without seeing more than a handful of cars is just a sampling of what you can expect along this timeless road trip in the middle of nowhere.

Ruta 40, Argentina

Traversing the western length of a country that starts as a sub-tropical desert, but ends as sub-Antarctic steppe, Ruta 40 is a journey that any fan of natural scenery and long road trips should do in their lifetime.

Despite the hot and dry nature of its northern portion, this highway is relatively populated as you quickly transition to Mediterranean terrain that is chock full of vineyards bursting with wine grapes.

Near Bariloche, it starts to wend its way through valleys carpeted with evergreens and glacial lakes, before giving way to its emptiest section south of Perito Moreno, which is where endless flat plains roll out towards the east, and the sentry like Andes stands like a fortress wall on the western horizon.

The hazards here include a lack of services and stones that can puncture tires, but the biggest will come from not paying attention to the road – when the scenery gets too hard to ignore, pull over and take pictures. It will save you from piloting your ride into the ditch.

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