The Top 10 Untamed Roads
|Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah (Bureau of Land Management)|
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
Gravel roads pass spectacular lakes, streams, rivers, and waterfalls tumbling down mountains. The maple forests in the province of Quebec's largest and oldest national park are among the finest in North America for viewing fall foliage. Prepare your eyes for a riot of yellows, greens, oranges, and reds.
PLANNING: While the forest foliage is prettiest in fall, the park is open year-round. www.sepaq.com
Dempster Highway, Canada
From Yukon's Dawson City, head north through 457 miles (736 km) of icy wilderness. The track brings you to Inuvik—the largest town in the Arctic Circle. In winter, the S.U.V.-testing odyssey extends another 121 miles (194 km), as a river and the Atlantic freeze to form an ice road to the even remoter Tuktoyaktuk.
PLANNING: Eagle Plains, midway along, has the only gas station and hotel between Dawson and Inuvik. www.nunavuttourism.com
Hole-in-the-Rock Scenic Backway, Utah
This 57-mile (92 km) dirt road abruptly terminates at Hole-in-the-Rock, a 1,200-foot (366 m) crevice blasted and chiseled by 250 Mormon pioneers in 1880. Pass Devil's Garden (a picnic spot surrounded by unusual rock formations), a sandstone amphitheater called Dance Hall Rock, and the Escalante Canyons.
PLANNING: The route starts 5 miles (7 km) east of Escalante on Scenic Byway 12. Allow time for hiking off the main trail. www.scenicbyway12.com
Land Rover Experience, Carmel Valley, California
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, this unusual environment offers the chance to hone your off-road driving skills in safety and comfort. On a specially adapted 80-acre (32 ha) course, the school's instructors offer customized lessons and programs that last from one hour to several days.
PLANNING: The school is open year-round. www.landroverschool.com
Boranup Drive, Western Australia, Australia
Skyscraping karri forests, the surfer-friendly Cape Leeuwin coastline, spring wildflowers, and (for nondrivers) forays into Australia's prime Margaret Valley vineyards—all these tempt visitors to meander through the serene Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.
PLANNING: It takes three hours to drive to Margaret Valley from Perth. There is a campground just south of Boranup Drive in Hamelin Bay. www.westernaustralia.com
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication