QOTD: Is Your Destination… Isolation?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd is your destination 8230 isolation

For no reason in particular, your author found himself researching the various attributes and eccentricities of Greenland these past couple of days. Again, no reason. And while Greenland itself is pretty sparse and remote, you can’t actually drive very far from what passes for civilization in that [s]big island[/s] sort-of country. Something to do with fjords and glaciers and such.

If you’re looking to really get away from it all behind the wheel of a vehicle, there’s better choices closer to home. And, obviously, further. But maybe you already know that…

This Greenland business came about not long after a TTAC chat room discussion about the most isolated place any of us has ever reached via car. Essentially, the furthest point, by road, from any settlement that appears on a map.

The answers were varied. Yours truly wins on account of being a wandering Canadian who doesn’t easily grow bored. In my case, that point would be either somewhere on the Mackenzie Highway in northern Alberta or in the Northwest Territories, or perhaps that oft-mentioned trip up the Trans-Labrador Highway. Adam pinpoints a spot in the desert Southwest. Our managing editor points to Iceland, with a caveat that, while rugged and remote, the locale wasn’t that far removed from Icelandic civilization. Corey, it should be noted, doesn’t drive anywhere.

Jerkwater, Indiana doesn’t count!

And while all of us expressed regret that we’ve never taken the long road to Alaska, you don’t have to head northwest to find the most isolated piece of roadway in North America. You need to head north by northeast.

The Trans-Taiga Road, a thin ribbon of phone- and gasoline-free civilization pushing deep into the subarctic swamps and forest of northern Quebec, holds the distinction of being the most isolated road in eastern North America, and its terminus is the furthest point accessible by road from any settlement on the continent. As you’d imagine, this driving challenge is something your author finds alluring and irresistible. Maybe GM will lend me a diesel Colorado 4×4… with a truck cap for sleeping purposes.

To get to the end of this road, you’ll probably need that all-wheel traction and, if you’re at all sensible, a supply of fuel and probably two full-size spares. Water, food, coolant and oil, and perhaps a gun would be in order, too, if for nothing else than peace of mind. The road is not paved. To get to this free-of-Twitter locale, one must first drive 452 miles north of Montreal to the start of the James Bay Road, a route that already ranks among the most remote roads on the continent. After some 338 miles on that road, you hang a right and drive another 414 miles to the Caniapiscau Reservoir — an enormous man-made lake from which Quebec and much of New England draws its electricity. Both roads owe their existence to our postwar need for cheap, plentiful energy.

The fishing is apparently great up there, too, but the swarms of black flies could probably carry off a moose.

While this isolated spot is truly remote (462 miles from the nearest settlement), there’s also places called Africa and Asia, large swaths of which host almost no human population. And yet roads exist. Maybe you’ve ventured out into the Sahara before or perhaps plunged into the taiga forests of Siberia in a Lada Niva or atop an adventure bike (note: we’re hoping for a Niva story). Then there’s all-overland Antarctica, where if you don’t let most of the air out of your tires, you’re dead. And that’s no guarantee of safety.

So, B&B — in your many adventurous years on this planet, what’s the furthest you’ve ventured from civilization in a road vehicle?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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2 of 19 comments
  • AJ AJ on Aug 20, 2019

    The number one problem I have with planning those long trips out in nowhere is figuring the mpg? Last time I had more fuel then I needed... which was just added weight... which burns more fuel... haha.

  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Aug 21, 2019

    Well Not that far mileage wise but been down plenty of Dirt Roads in Maine. Grand Lake Stream is a cool one. Went down logging roads for hours North of Bangor with a friend not sure exactly where we went but eventually 8 hours later we got back to some form of civilization in Danforth Maine. On a side note When I lived in Maine I frequently traveled Rt9 (the airline) between Bangor and Calais, a little before they actually straightened it. Some where about halfway thru the 90 miles telephone poles stop for 5-6 miles and then start up again coming from the other direction. My favorite part of back roads travel in Maine were the places with no town names just numbers T19 T6 T8 etc.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).