The world is paved by more than 18 million kilometers of roadways. Congested traffic and bumpy roads are a bit more bearable when paired with a scenic view. Some roads are stunningly beautiful that they are not simply part of the journey, they become an iconic destination on their own.
Roads are often taken for granted but they shouldn't be. Some roads extend out over the ocean, some are winding up to the green landscapes of a mountain, while some are historically significant. Here are some of the beautiful scenic roads in the world.
Highway One, Monterey County, California
Highway One is considered to be a must-drive stretch that runs parallel to the entire colorful and vibrant coastline of California, beginning at the southern section of Los Angeles to its north point that is located in Mendocino County. Arguably though, the most gorgeous stretch of this road can be experienced in Monterey. South of Monterey, the 750-mile highway goes through the stunning seaside sanctuary called "Carmel by the Sea" before moving on to the Big Sur coast where one can take in the breathtaking views of cliffs, redwoods, and the famed Bixby Creek Bridge.
Route 40, Argentina
National Route 40, which also goes by the name RN40, is the longest route in Argentina, passing through nearly its entire length with an astounding 3,195 miles. The road passes through immaculate lakes and several cities before arriving at its peak in Abra del Acay, at a towering 5,000 meters. There are a lot of worthwhile sites that can be visited on this route, like the Cueva de las Manos which holds ancient cave art, and the Los Glaciares National Park, one of the country's largest national parks.
US Route 163, Arizona/Utah
This 64-mile US Highway is without a shadow of a doubt one of America's most well-known routes. The highway passes through the Redrock desert and Monument Valley, making it a favorite for countless commercials and movies such as the cult classics Forrest Gump and Easy Rider. Part of the highway forms the Trail of the Ancients, which is a National Scenic Byway that highlights the archaeological and cultural history of the Southwestern Native American people. Geological features include green valleys, red rock landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and sandstone-rimmed canyons.
Tianmen Mountain Road, China
The Tianmen Mountain Road makes its way up onto the side of the Tianmen Mountain, also known as the "Heaven's Gate Mountain", located in the northwestern part of Hunan Province, China. Compared to the other roads on this list, it is a short one with just under six miles under its belt. Regardless, it goes up to 1,100 meters. The road then goes to Tianmen Cave, nicknamed as "Gateway to Heaven", which is a rock arch formed naturally atop of the mountain as a result of soil erosion.
To get there, you'd have to climb 999 steep and narrow steps up to the cave, and the use of the number "9" is actually rooted among Taoist traditions. It is believed that this number is a symbol of the emperor and the supreme number available for man. Thus, the value of "999" highlights the ethereal mystery of this place, located at the border of the human and divine world.
Chapman's Peak Drive (South Africa)
This road's namesake mountain, Chapman's Peak, is situated on the west side of the Cape Peninsula, which is in Cape Town, South Africa. Chapman's Peak Drive is near the vertical side of the mountain, which links Hout Bay to Noordhoek. The road is constructed on top of a layer of granite and sedimentary rock, overlooking the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean where there are sweet spots to witness large whales in their natural habitat.