10 Most Spectacular Drives in the World

Love the great outdoors? Want to see sights that will make you swoon? Or maybe you just really like being behind the wheel.

Whatever your reason, here are ten of the world's most spectacular drives, so good they're worth getting on a plane to get to.

Karakoram Highway, China: Kashgar to the Kunjerab Pass

Nestled at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, winding its way from desert landscapes to snow-capped peaks, the Karakoram Highway is an otherworldly ascent into a rugged paradise.

Not for the faint-hearted, the alpine highway reaches up to 15,000 feet above sea level. It starts in the Western province of Xinjiang, China, and ends in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Some of the show-stopping sights include Karakul Lake, a 12,000-foot-high lake at the foot of the Tian Shan mountain range, whose crystal clear waters perfectly reflect the alien purple, pinks, and whites of the never-ending peaks of Mt. Kongur. If the thin alpine air doesn't take your breath away, the sight of blue skies and clouds on both ends of the horizon will do the trick.

Western Desert, Egypt: Cairo to Kharga

Egypt's Western Desert could be the epitome of stark desert beauty. Running between the Nile River in the heart of Cairo, Egypt, to the Libyan border, it is home to a string of five oases, Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Bahariyya and Siwa, but in between, lie undulating sand dunes, dry lake beds, and ancient lava flows. Scattered, also, are millions of years of history. The region is also known for its mummies, forgotten cities and tombs, and rock paintings.

However, the highlight is the alien landscape stretching out on either end of the drive, including the White Desert -- a spectacular white rock quarry, carved into impossible shapes by the wind. Spend a couple days on the drive here, and treasure the nights staring up at the star-studded night sky.

The Grand Canyon, U.S. -- Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

The U.S. is full of beautiful drives, but even amongst them, a trip to the Grand Canyon is a sight to see. The canyon's dimensions are staggering: 277 miles of river bed, more then a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide.

The most popular drive to see the canyon is from from Las Vegas, Nev., 180 miles away.

The south rim is the most accessible -- and the most crowded. The sparse north rim, which is closed in the winter, is more interesting and, time permitting, allows you to swing by the stunning Zion National Park in Utah, which was also carved out by a river, (the Virgin). Park your car and hop on a shuttle bus for the breathtaking Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which meanders along the bottom of the canyon.

Along the way, picture this: azure skies peering above snaking ruby red mesas, white clouds casting crimson shadows against twisting blue river beds and tufts of spring blooms. Enough said.

Alsace Wine Route, France: Strasbourg to Mulhouse

This is not so much a drive as a stop-and-gape tour, as this lovely wine route takes you through the Vosges Mountains and the poppie-lined Rhenan plains, twisting past majestic castles and idyllic villages peppered along twisted rivers.

Start at Sauverne with its fairy tale-like old city, and lazily make your way south; be sure to stop at the medieval gates of Dambach, the panoramic views of Mont Sainte Odile and Kaysersberg (in the heart of the vineyards).

Speaking of vineyards, a visit to Alsace wouldn't be complete without the wine -- but, please, don't mix it with the drive.

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