When imagining the perfect driving road, we've been conditioned to picture winding mountainous roads with sheer cliffs that were carved into the side of the Alps or some other place in Europe. The continent entrances us with their unlimited speed areas and their winding roads that seem to go on forever.
A friend of mine just got back from Stelvio Pass the other week and after a day said he already hated American roads. I myself was taken aback by the roads in Sicily I got to drive last year while on vacation.
While here in the States, cops are everywhere and will either ticket you to death or like Patrick found out, throw you in the clink for exceeding what has been determined as the correct "speed limit."
But what if I told you there was a place inside the US that could rival Stelvio, rival the Transfargarasan, rival anything Europe could throw at it? I'm guessing you'd call bullshit, but just take a look at this.
This is the Galena Territory in Illinois. An area intended by god himself for epic driving enjoyment.
You see, while the rest of Illinois was leveled by the last glacier, somehow that massive chunk of ice missed Galena altogether. This created an area that more resembles the countryside of Europe, than the vast flat corn expanse that is the rest of Illinois.
Galena has all the classic vista's that make up those epic driving roads we're shown by the likes of TopGear and Evo, but without having to buy a plane ticket to check them out.
And it gets better.
Unlike the rest of the country's road system where corners and curves are to be looked down upon, the roads within the territory all perfectly contour to the land. They are full of blind crests, corners without any guardrails, and tree-lined switchbacks that beg to be taken as fast as you dare. Essentially, whoever designed the road system here was a massive fan of motorsports and kept everything as an auto-enthusiast would want.
I spent a total of two days out there exploring the roads, and I only covered about 35% of them. And with an expanse of land that totals something close to 7,000 square acres, but only holds 443 permanent residents, the roads are almost completely deserted. Which allows you the freedom to explore each one of them to your heart's content.
The only thing you need to worry about is a stray cow from time to time.
Everyone is always searching for the perfect driving road, but why does it have to be limited to just one? Stelvio, Majorca, and the Transfargarasan all end at some point. The Galena Territory roads all connect with each other so perfectly that once you're done with the road you're on, you just transition into the next and continue the pure bliss of driving for the sake of driving.
While I still yearn to experience and drive those famous roads, this slice of heaven, only two and half hours outside of Chicago in my opinion can go toe to toe with whatever the rest of the world has to offer.
Photo's taken by myself and Patrick Morgan