To All the Roads I’ve Loved Before

DW Burnett

This article first appeared in the May/June issue Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Join the club to receive our award-winning magazine, and as part of the first-ever HDC Days from June 21 to June 23, Hagerty Drivers Club members will be eligible for some amazing deals, cool contests, and epic events and experiences. Not an HDC member? Sign up today!

There are more than 4 million miles of road in the United States. Can you imagine trying to pick just one as the best? I’m glad the Hagerty Media team took on that task, because I don’t think I could.

Like most drivers, I’ve cruised hundreds if not thousands of highways, byways, roads, routes, lanes, boulevards, and streets. There are many that I love dearly and can call to mind when I need to escape for a moment. Great roads stay with us, ready to be recalled for a needed burst of joy. (None of us gets to drive great roads as much as we’d like to, right?)

In truth, we all know there isn’t merely one road to rule them all. Picking a single favorite road is like picking a favorite child. But I love the exercise. I think the magazine staff’s selection of California State Route 33, about two hours north of Los Angeles, is a clever choice for our inaugural Road of the Year, not because it’s the greatest in the country but because it’s one that many driving aficionados have experienced and can agree on. It is, indeed, a stunning road in a state full of them.

Some will disagree, no doubt passionately. To them, maybe California State Route 33 isn’t a great choice because it’s well known for being a hidden gem, if that makes sense, and thus somewhat obvious. I would disagree with that assessment, but the whole point of such an article is to stimulate conversation. I enjoy debating (to badly paraphrase the great Willie Nelson song) “all the roads I’ve loved before.” But I also like hearing about roads I’ve never had the pleasure to have known. Our annual choice, whatever it may be, will be added to many a driving bucket list.

M-22 Porsche 911 driving action
Jordan Lewis

With that in mind, I have decided to jump boldly into the fray and risk your ire by listing a few roads that are meaningful to me, starting with M-22, a stretch of rural highway in Michigan’s pinkie that winds along the Lake Michigan shoreline for 116 glorious miles. I prefer the interior sections that take me past woods, dunes, lakes, farms, and so forth. There’s a magic to M-22 that’s hard to define. It’s the perfect blend of stunning scenery and smooth, serpentine roads, especially on a perfect blue-sky summer day or a crisp fall afternoon with the trees ablaze in color.

Colorado’s Pikes Peak is a completely different—and far more challenging—driving experience. In 2016, I took on all 19 miles and 156 curves of it behind the wheel of my red 1967 Porsche 911 S. It was breathtaking and even a bit terrifying at times since there are spots where your tires are just a few feet from a sheer drop-off. But it was satisfying, too. It can really test you as a driver, and there aren’t too many roads like that. You end up paying so much attention to what you’re doing that it can be draining. But when you get to the top, wow, what a vista. You feel like you’ve truly accomplished something. Because you have.

Another route that is dear to me, for similar reasons, is the Tail of the Dragon. It’s an 11-mile stretch of U.S. 129 in the Smoky Mountains with 318 curves. That’s not a misprint: 318. Many consider it a touring road, which in a sense it is, but it’s no Sunday drive. It is not for the faint of heart or inattentive.

According to, there have been 29 deaths on the Dragon in the past 11 years, most of them involving motorcycles. It can be crowded and dangerous. Drive accordingly.

I have many other roads I would love to share with you, but that will have to wait for another column. In the meantime, let’s hear about your special roads.


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    The road to the Summit of Haleakala is a prime rd from sea level to 11,000 in 36 miles. I have done this in a car and on a bike.

    Even in August in Maui it was 36 degrees at the top.

    Everyone names many of the same roads. The PCH and Dragon are great roads but often the better roads are the roads less traveled.

    Through out the mountains on each coast are roads only seen by the locals.

    West Virginia is filled with challenging roads and free from tourist. They are also in great condition as one of the few industries in the satiate is road repair.

    So if you travel around take that exit off I77 or 79 and just follow it. I found great roads in VA but watch your speed as VA treats speed violations with the death penalty.

    Agreed. The Missus and I did The Three Sisters in her 2001 Corvette (TX 335, TX 336 and TX 337…aka Twisted Sisters) about 10 years ago and I’ve been itching to go back in my Z06…imagine a slightly-milder Dragon Tail with elevation changes for 100 miles. The Devil’s Backbone is a good ride also.

    St rt 41 in southern Ohio from the intersection of rt 52 and 41 at Maysville to intersection of 41 and 50 east of Chillocothy Ohio.

    People tend to overlook Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. Staying along the major rivers in each state reveals many great driving roads. Driving in Shawnee National forest areas of southern Illinois and Indiana reveals some great drives, and as for the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, look at a map and pick a crooked road.

    hyperV6 is right about West Virginia…US 19 from Beckley north is a beautiful drive, not the Tail of the Dragon, but great fun with very light traffic.

    Missouri Highway 94 from I-64 to US 54 through wine country and headed towards the Ozarks was always a fun drive. It can be busy on summer weekends, but fun on lesser traveled days.
    The Devil’s Highway in Arizona is another scenic, mountainous drive with more turns than you can count.

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