The open road, roof top down, wind in your hair; sounds like the ultimate American dream road trip right?
From the iconic Route 66 to the dramatic Pacific Coast Highway; hiring a car in the United States gives you an enormous sense of freedom, allowing you to cover great distances, soaring across deserts or exploring some off-the-beaten-highway towns and truck-stops. However, not all those drives are as romantic or relaxing as you might expect; some can be downright treacherous!
Here are five road trips to consider (or avoid) for that white knuckle road trip adventure:
1. Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
When it comes to gorgeous drives, Highway 550 in Colorado is tough to beat. But for a 25-mile stretch known as ‘Million Dollar Highway’ gorgeous quickly becomes a test of nerves and you drive out on a cliff edge 11,000 feet above sea level. This portion of the road snakes between the antique tourist towns of Ouray and Silverton taking you through the Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains. Forget standard driving safety measures like guardrails and shoulders, there aren’t any on this stretch, so swerving off the road is not advised!
2. James Dalton Highway, Alaska
Ever watched Channel 5’s Ice Road Truckers? This highway features regularly on the show, which is primarily about how scary this treacherous track of tarmac is. The scenery is gorgeous, but you may be too busy dodging pot holes the size of moon craters, battling strong winds flinging small rocks at your car, or trying not to freeze in -80°F, all of which could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Car rental companies won’t even let you take their vehicles down this road. It’s best to leave the Dalton Highway to the pros.
3. Interstate 10, Arizona
You could literally drive coast to coast on I-10, but the 150 miles that go through Phoenix to the California border is a pretty hairy stretch. You’re driving through a desert, so apart from the odd cactus or abandoned tumble-weed town you’re not going to see many people or petrol stations by the roadside. Check this website for regular updates on accidents and traffic – they also state that this portion of the highway has seen up to 85 deaths for a state that suffered just under 700 road fatalities in 2010. Drive safely, folks!
4. Highway 17, South Carolina
Simultaneously terrifying and incredibly pretty, this highway offers beautiful tree-lined roads in Beaufort County and peaks and valleys furhter along, that look like they’re straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. But the sharp turns, blind curves, narrow lanes and random mountain lions that could jump into the road at any time will give you a nasty surprise, and ruin your hire car, if you’re not careful.
5. Highway 2, Montana
Rural roads are famously more frightening to drive than big multi-lane motorways, and none more dangerous than Highway 2 in Montana. Why is this route between Butte and Three Forks so treacherous? It’s a mix of other drivers acting reckless and its remote location. You’ll drive through some vast plains, which many drivers take as a cue to try and hit triple digits on their speedometer. If you’re unlucky enough to get in to a scrap on this road, it usually takes an average of 80 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, which is a long time to wait when you compare it to the 15 minutes pick-up time you’d get if you had an accident in a city.
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