These Are the Bucket List Roads Jalopnik Would Love to Drive

Photo:  Sean Gallup (Getty Images)
Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

Ever since humans decided to start meandering, the world has been paved with countless beautiful roads that make for some damn good driving. Everyone has their favorites, and today at Jalopnik, we’re talking about the bucket list drives we’ve always wanted to take.

Elizabeth Blackstock: Nürburgring (Gesamtstrecke)


As one of Jalopnik’s resident motorsport buffs, I think my choice was probably fairly obvious: I’d love to drive the Nürburgring — and not just the Nordschleife. I want to drive all 17.563 miles of the Gesamtstrecke, or the Whole Course.

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While the ‘Ring is a race track, it was originally designed using public roads, so I’m counting it as my choice. The layout was completed in early 1927, but only a handful of races were held on the full course; as a result, the fastest speed recorded around the Gesamtstrecke was set by Louis Chiron at 69.79 mph. After 1929, the course was shortened, and racing largely took place on the Nordschleife.

But I’ve always been entranced by those old, meandering tracks — the ones that carve through miles of hills and mountains and forests and are designed to represent the nuance of the location.

Owen Bellwood: State Highway 94

A photo of Highway 94 in New Zealand weaving through mountains.
A photo of Highway 94 in New Zealand weaving through mountains.

One dream road is a tough ask. Sure, I’ve had dreams about racing a lap of the Monaco Grand Prix track or rumbling across the bricks at the Indy 500 one day. But, after running them, I’d either be stuck in a glam tourist town or Indiana and I don’t know if I’m down for that just yet.

So instead, here’s a regular ribbon of road that I’ve wanted to traverse for years: State Highway 94 on New Zealand’s South Island. This 73-mile stretch from Te Anau isn’t some desolate section of six-lane highway that you might find here in the U.S., it’s a pristine ribbon of tarmac that skirts mountains and lakes through New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.

The views look insane, passing past snow-capped mountains and endless forests. Then, there’s the road itself, which has a steady climb at first before some undulating sections welcome you to New Zealand’s highlands, it even has a set of wonderful-looking switchbacks as you approach Hundred Falls. Give me a long weekend, this road and an Alpine A110 R and I’ll be the happiest chap in the southern hemisphere.

Andy Kalmowitz: The Transfagarasan Highway

Photo:  Horia Varlan via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Horia Varlan via Wikimedia Commons

Listen, I know that Jeremy Clarkson is a total wiener, but his era of Top Gear still has a very special place in my heart. That’s why I’m choosing the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania. It just seemed so perfect in every single way. The long sweepers that transition into tight hairpin turns, the scenery and the fact there didn’t seem to be too many other folks on the road really made the whole stretch of pavement look magical.

That being said, The Transfagarasan wasn’t my original bucket list road. Over the summer I was lucky enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Fransisco on California’s legendary Highway 1: The Pacific Coast Highway. That right there is probably as good as it gets.

Hopefully one day I’ll make it to Romania to give my second bucket list road a real of it, but until then I’ll just have to remember the wonderful California road trip I went on last year. Alas.

José Rodríguez Jr.: Ruta 40

Photo:  Hermes Images (Getty Images)
Photo: Hermes Images (Getty Images)

There are possibly too many good roads to list. In fact, I’m certain that there are far too many bucket-list roads, but that’s a good thing! I feel like I’m trying to teleport to disparate points of the globe to come up with an answer. How do I choose between Stelvio Pass in Italy or the Golden Road in Mongolia? I’ll just have to pick someplace closer to my part of the world to narrow the view in my mind, so I’m going with Argentina’sRuta 40,” or National Route 40.

Ruta 40 is one of the longest roads in the world at a mind-boggling 3,157 miles long. It spans from Patagonia to Bolivia, and even though it’s in western Argentina (as a national rather than international route) la cuarenta travels alongside the Andes Mountains and passes through many different landscapes — from craggy slopes and lush hills to arid desert and wide-open steppes.

The famous road reportedly offers a journey to the end of the world, and in a way, that’s true; the road ends at the southern tip of Argentina, which is itself at the bottom of South America. If it weren’t for a sliver of the country Chile, Ruta 40 would drain all the way down to the end of the continent. And if a 3,200-mile drive is still not long enough, there are countless detours and rhizomes of road growing out of Ruta 40. It’s an endless drive, which is to say it’s perfect.

Lawrence Hodge: Pacific Coast Highway

Image:  Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)
Image: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

Ok, it may be a bit cliche to want to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH, as a California resident. But, as a resident, I have never actually fully driven PCH. Why go all over the world looking for the best driving road when you have one that runs along one of the most beautiful coastlines right here at home?

I’m not just talking about any run up the coast either. I’m specifically talking about the 278-mile distance from Malibu to Big Sur. While this could easily be done in a few hours, I’d be missing out on some great scenery. There are a few great must-see spots along the route to enjoy including Morro Bay and Big Sur State Park with its iconic cliffs and water colors. I may make a weekend of this drive very soon.

Adam Ismail: Circuit de la Sarthe

Image of a Porsche 911 RSR on the Mulsanne straight during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Image of a Porsche 911 RSR on the Mulsanne straight during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

You know, when I was asked to name a road I’d love to drive for this piece, at first I couldn’t really think of any. I’m not good with roads, though I do recall the one Andy mentioned that was featured in that Top Gear episode from forever ago, the one with the name too long for me to spell. So long, in fact, that I can’t even be bothered to backpedal five slides to copy and paste it.

But then I realized something. Much like Elizabeth’s shout out to the Nürburgring, a course originally comprised of public roads, I could sneak part of Le Mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe into this piece under a similar doctrine. The thought of humming down the Mulsanne even at a modest pace, knowing I was rolling on the same ribbon of asphalt that’s seen motorsport’s greatest triumphs and heartbreaks — not to mention Team Mercedes’ wild flips that one year — gives me goosebumps.

Ryan Erik King: Mont Ventoux

Photo:  Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I love racing, and racing is racing no matter how the competitors get to the finish. Mont Ventoux is the bucket list road that I’d love to drive because it is a strange intersection between motorsport and road cycling. The 6,263-foot-tall mountain in the South of France hosted a famous hill climb from 1902 until 1967. The European Hill Climb Championship frequently visited Mont Ventoux, including when contemporary Grand Prix cars competed in the series during the 1930s.

The Tour de France has had stage finishes at Mont Ventoux’s summit. The mountain’s peak was completely stripped of trees during the 12th century to supply the shipyards of nearby Toulon with building materials. Most of the summit has remained desolate since. The barren terrain above the tree line is often referred to during cycling broadcasts as a moonscape. The climb up the mountain is grueling for cyclists. There’s a nearly 10-mile stretch with an average gradient of 8.9 percent. Though, it would be a blast to drive up in a sports car.

Lalita Chemello: Gotthard Pass

Photo:  Didier Marti (Getty Images)
Photo: Didier Marti (Getty Images)

Maybe it’s my Detroit roots, or just the experiences due to circumstances, but as a kid, we were on the road, a lot. Long road trips from Michigan to Alabama happened two to three times a year, as well as fun drives along Michigan’s lakeshores. I’ve driven through the Rockies and Appalachians, and in college tackled one of the top scenic drives in our country – the Pacific Coast Highway, from Malibu down to Laguna Beach (you know my age, so you can guess why that was a pivotal stop).

Regardless, I’ve put tires to some of the best (and honestly worst) roads the U.S. has to offer, so of course, like my fellow writers, I’m looking overseas. More specifically in Switzerland: the Gotthard Pass. I’ll admit that this infatuation resulted from watching Season 2 of The Grand Tour, and while my thoughts on certain hosts draw me away from the show, there’s one thing that cast was brilliant at – putting cars on beautiful roads. Sure, I’d love to go off-roading in the Sahara, or race across the roads of the Mille Miglia, but I’d also love to drive through the iconic Swiss Alps and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful views that only one of the happiest countries to live in the world could offer.

Collin Woodard: The Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Grossglockner high alpine road
Grossglockner high alpine road

For years, my answer to this question was the Hải Vân Pass in Vietnam. I’d seen the Top Gear episode, I’d seen how beautiful it was and I knew I needed to go. Eventually, I saved up enough credit card reward points and was able to do exactly that. Instead of taking a car, though, I rode a 125-cc Honda motorcycle with sketchy brakes and no horn. It was more crowded than Top Gear suggested, but it was still an absolutely incredible experience.

With that ride in the books, that means my number two is now my number one: the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Essentially on the other side of the world from Vietnam, this scenic Austrian road just looks gorgeous. Me, a KTM, and a beautiful mountain road through the Alps sound like a recipe for a truly incredible experience. Maybe I can go for my 35th birthday. Or maybe my 40th is more practical. But one day, I will ride it.

Kyle Hyatt: Angeles Crest Highway

Photo:  David McNew (Getty Images)
Photo: David McNew (Getty Images)

My pick may seem a little like cheating, but for my money, it’s really hard to beat the world-famous Angeles Crest Highway. The best part is that the base of it is less than 10 minutes from my front door.

With an incredible mix of fast sweeping turns and tight bends, on-and-off camber corners, epic vistas and an almost total dearth of law enforcement professionals once you get away from the bottom, it’s a motorists’ playground.

Of course, with such accessibility and proximity to arguably the world’s best car culture, plenty of people head up into the mountains and drive like they’re on a race track. A lot of those people don’t come home.

Still, if you respect it and learn its tricks and secrets, the Crest is one of the most rewarding driving experiences a car person can have — particularly on the stretch including Angeles Forest Highway and especially Upper Big Tujunga Rd.

Erik Shilling: Any Road in Siberia

Photo:  AP (AP)
Photo: AP (AP)

I’ve driven on two different continents, and one of those isn’t Asia, where Siberia is, a place I’ve never been to, and a place whose vast expanse is the stuff of poetry, legend, allure. Would driving across Siberia be the exact same as that time I drove across America and almost had an existential crisis in Nebraska, but longer? Probably! But I still want to do it, if only once.

I don’t have a preference on the route, since it will all be new to me. I do have a preference on the vehicle, which would have to be something capable enough to drive across Siberia. Would any lessons be learned? No, because you don’t learn life lessons operating a motor vehicle unless you’re a teen. It would be nice to be in a vast expanse and feel utterly alone though, if for a couple hours at least.

Erin Marquis: Monument Valley Loop Drive

View of sandstone buttes under a blue cloudy sky on September 27, 2022 in Monument Valley, Arizona.
View of sandstone buttes under a blue cloudy sky on September 27, 2022 in Monument Valley, Arizona.

I grew up taking long road trips on two lane highways surrounded by a gently rolling landscape of thickly wooded hills punctuated by the occasional lake. So I’ve been there, done that. I’m through with the lush, green deer-filled scene.

No, what I long for is the desert. I want to see the towering giants of multicolored rock I first fell in love with through my father’s collection of National Geographics and I want to do it under my own control, in my own vehicle.

It’s been my dream to take a trip across the entire American Southwest for a long time now, but in particular I want to see Monument Valley. A 17-mile scenic loop road is available for wanders at $20 per car. It may not be super fast or a challenging road to travel, but the scenery is beyond comparison. I’d also probably hire a Navajo tour guide who can bring to life this ancient and sacred land.

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