A great car is just a complicated sculpture without a good road. A truly great road is what serious driving is all about, but some of the best roads are also the most crowded. These are Jalopnik readers' picks for the ten best unknown and underappreciated driving roads.
Or maybe I should say ten of the best unknown and underappreciated driving roads. This is one of those days when at least half of the responses were serious contenders for newfound appreciation. We advise everyone to go back and reread the entire comment thread, take many notes, figure out which ones are most personally appealing, and go for it. The thread is that good. Thanks much, y'all.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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Photo Credit: Andy Sternberg; All Road Image Credits: Google Maps
10.) New York 9N Between Saratoga Springs And Lake George
Suggested By: ZACHISGOD
Why it's the road to Nirvana: New York is more than just one city in the lower right-hand corner of the map. Head up north past Albany and you'll find some of the most beautiful medium-rise mountains in North America — and plenty of roads lacing through those mountains like streams.
9.) The Island Of Mallorca
Suggested By: MoRphine-2
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Best known as a destination for the Euro summer party crowd, this small isle in the Mediterranean off the east coast of Spain is a severely underutilized driving resource, with roads apparently laid out after too much sangria. The perfect place to stage your own latter-day Iberian version of the Targa Florio.
8.) 406 Between Hakuba And Nagano, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Suggested By: owen-magnetic
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Looking like a setting for an episode of Initial D, 406 is a stark refutation of the prejudice that all of Japan has turned into one monstrous near-sentient city. The Japanese love of nature shines through in this wooded passage, and the Japanese love of speed shines through in the a road that might have been inspired by a bowl of soba noodles.
7.) River Road between White Bird And Route 95, Idaho
Suggested By: RisingViscosity
Why it's the road to Nirvana: When I saw this my first thought was, "Okay, who's the joker who put in the Stelvio Pass?" Then I pulled the map-page magnification back and was startled — and delighted — to find out that this amazing set of geometrically clean switchbacks was in Idaho. The Rocky Mountains are full of devastatingly wonderful roads; this one is a hidden masterpiece. And when you're done, just hop on 95 and go back to the start again.
6.) BC-4 Between Port Alberni And Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
Suggested By: wheatieboy
Why it's the road to Nirvana: The idea of fun driving in Canada can seem like a joke to the uninitiated, but get to the coasts and the memories of droning open plains fade as quickly as you can turn. This twister, on Vancouver Island out west, is an undiscovered delight in a barren but beautiful place.
5.) The Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, GA-348,
Suggested By: My X-type is too a real Jaguar
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Admit it: The term "scenic highway" associates more strongly with meandering retirees in RVs than corner-clipping. Maybe it's a shame, but if it keeps away the bulk of the traffic we can live with the misconception. If you need a refresher on the original meaning, we recommend this Dixie classic with views that rival the challenges.
4.) Texas Ranch Road 337-E between Leakey and Vanderpool
Suggested By: Irving Washington
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Texas is more than just oilfields and grazing cattle and the kind of wide open spaces that fry your brain. There's pockets of gleefully jumbled roads in there too, mostly in the east but strewn throughout the state. This one is just west of San Antonio, and mixes in some scorching straights along with the curves.
3.) Vermont Route 108
Suggested By: Defender90
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Where there is skiing there is mountains, and it follows that there are mountain roads, as well. Stowe deserves more credit as a a warm-weather jumpoff point for a different kind of seasonal high-speed thrill ride. The rest of the fine state of Vermont is a two-lane paradise that takes its small scale seriously; Interstates only recently intruded here.
2.) MO-32 Between Bismarck And Roubidoux, Missouri
Suggested By: BrtStlnd
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Running through Mark Twain National Forest, this masterpiece in the middle of the country will liven up those coast-to-coast runs right when you need a break from superslab droning the most. Good roads are like rock songs: short-and-intense is usually the order of the day, but a good serious long stretch can be a beautiful thing if done right. This one is.
1.) North Carolina 215 Between Rosman And Waynesville
Suggested By: ben.garner
Why it's the road to Nirvana: Motorcyclists swear by the entire Great Smoky region with good reason. The Tail of the Dragon gets all the hype, but North Carolina has no shortage of gloriously technical roads. This one in particular is a full thirty-five miles of Platonic two-lanes through the Nantahala National Forest.
And in the very unlikely event that it gets too familiar, there's always NC 276 right there as well.