Desert highways of the world
Connecting towns separated by miles of desert terrain via highways is no mean feat as construction is expensive and time-consuming. Depending on the terrain, delays are unavoidable and costs are often exceeded. However, it is essential to connect towns and cities that are often cut off in some way from major urban areas or trading ports, for example.
One of these highways in Morocco, the Tiznit-Dakhla, is nearing completion. The over 1,000 km road will connect the city of Tiznit to the coastal city of Dakhla in Western Sahara, with a dozen bypasses planned to bypass other towns along the route wherever possible, avoiding traffic downtown. The aim is to reduce the travel time between the northern and southern provinces and attract more investment to these regions.
When completed, the impressive stretch of asphalt won’t be the only notable desert cutter, of course. With so many to choose from, a good place to start is with Aces.
Where are the desert highways in the world?
Asia: Tarim Desert Highway
Also known as the Cross-Desert Highway, the road stretches through China’s Taklamakan Desert, and is likely the first result most search engines will return for “desert highways.” However, the total length of the highway is “only” 552 km. By no means a short hike, this still falls short of Tiznit-Dakhla at about half the distance.
America: US Route 50
Dubbed “America’s Loneliest Road” by Life magazine in 1986, Route 50 crosses the Nevada desert for 800 km from Carson City to Baker. Although Life magazine kindly pointed out that there were “no points of interest” on the road, travelers are now making an effort to see how lonely it is. Maybe they want to be alone.
Australia: Outback Highway
Highway One is the longest highway in Australia at 14,500 km, as it loops (almost) the entire coast of the country. However, it passes through a lot of green land along the way, so it really should be considered a desert highway. Although a little less official, the Outback Highway is more in the spirit of things and has been considered the ‘the emptiest road in the world’stretching 2,700 km from Laverton in Western Australia to Winton in Queensland.
The Antarctic Pole is considered the largest desert in the world. However, highways are rare at the South Pole. And you probably won’t find many paved trails that aren’t directly outside a science station. You could switch to the Arctic and Canada’s Inuvik–Tuktoyaktuk highway. This one is only 138 km long and is scaled down anyway because it doesn’t have the ‘polar desert’ label like Antarctica. The same goes for the arctic highways in Norway.
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