It took 132 years and a bunch of entrepreneurs to make Stone Road a household name for adrenaline junkies, but the winding road atop cliffs has managed to attract people to the Turkish town of Kemaliye in the country's eastern province of Erzincan for a thrill ride.
One of the “most dangerous roads” in the world with sharp hairpins and bends, it is only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long, but that is enough to get your heart pumping as one wrong move can have your car end up at the bottom of cliffs from a height of 800 meters (2,625 feet) in some spots. The breathtaking scenery of Dark Canyon, where the road is located, takes away the scary aspect of the ride.
The road’s origin dates back to the 19th century when locals wanted to connect the town, now added to UNESCO World Heritage List, to central Turkey through Sivas in the west. Using primitive tools in the absence of modern equipment, locals managed to construct a small section of the road. The road was fully completed in 2002 with state support, but nowadays it is closed to regular traffic as new, modern roads were built on nearby alternative, shorter routes. Nowadays, it is only open to visitors seeking to explore the canyon on motorcycles, bicycles and off-road vehicles. Local companies offer “safari tours” for tourists along the road, seeking to boost tourism cash for the town, which is a popular destination for water sports on its Karasu river as well as paragliding and wingsuit flying across its steep canyons. Indeed, Dark Canyon occasionally serves as a wingsuit flying spot.
The road when it was first constructed was too narrow for vehicles, but it was expanded over the following decades. Still, it gives little space for error for motorists, who have to navigate through the dangerous bends they sporadically come across, along with 45 large and small tunnels.
Latif Yalçıner, who runs a local tour company offering rides along the road, says Stone Road offers “pure adrenaline” for visitors. “The road was the result of hard work by locals who used only shovels and pickaxes and managed to build a 3-kilometer stretch over the years. Building this road was certainly more difficult and dangerous than driving on it,” he said.