Home » This Incredible Website Shows You Where The Good Driving Roads Are

This Incredible Website Shows You Where The Good Driving Roads Are

Curvature Website Ts4
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It’s the long weekend and you have a fun car, a full tank of gas, and a good set of tires. It’s time to have fun, but where do you go? Of course, you can always wing it and see where the road takes you. Me personally? I want to make sure I get to get to my destination before dark, so if the goal is to find the best driving roads, and especially if I’m cut for time, I’m going to want to plan. Luckily, there is a website to help me find those twisties.

Curvature, whose tag line is “Find Twisty Roads,” is an open-source web application that uses data mapping to finding the curviest roads in the world, with the company saying:

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Curvature helps those who enjoy twisty roads (such as motorcycle or driving enthusiasts) find promising roads that may not be well known. It works by looking at the geometry of every road segment and adding up how much length of the road is sharp corners, broad sweeping curves, and straight areas. The most twisty segments can then be viewed on the web or downloaded as KML map files that can be viewed in Google Earth.

To pull this off, Curvature relies on OpenStreetMap, commonly referred to as OSM. As the site suggests, it’s basically like contributing to a Wikipedia page; users can add details to the maps like road type, road surface, geographical markings, elevation changes, and traffic signs. This helps Curvature identify where the twistiest ones are.

When you open up Curvature, it looks like a bunch of psychedelic spaghetti. Refer to the legend though, and it all becomes quite clear. It’s yellow for least twisty, pink for the most, red in the middle.

Screen Shot 2024 01 14 At 9.02.26 Am

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The intention behind the program apparently comes from the heart. The founder, Adam Franco, a software developer, created Curvature as a passion project in 2012. As the company’s site notes, Franco built Curvature because he loves to lean into the turns:

Historically, our navigation tools like highway maps and GPS routing algorithms strive to help people get efficiently from one place to another, and in doing so place an emphasis on the “fastest route”, with the biggest roads and highest speeds. While these are often useful metrics, what they don’t capture easily and certainly don’t highlight is how fun a road might be to ride or drive. I wrote Curvature to builds maps that highlight how fun a road might be — where fun is defined as lots of time spent leaning into curves.

To demonstrate how it works, I’ll refer to his example of a route through the Adirondack mountains near where he lives in Connecticut:

Adirondacks Googlemaps

As you can see, he uses Google Maps, which is full of bright details that are initially difficult to see. The lines that are visible to the naked eye in separate shades of yellow. The lighter the color, the less it is used as a main road. And then of course, the green and blue patches to indicate land changes and water channels.

Now let’s set a destination:

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Adirondacks Google Maps Route

Okay, so it looks like Adam’s goal is reach Saranac Lake, NY some two hours away. Now the question is whether there are some great twisty roads for him to enjoy. To do that, we’ll pull up a Curvature map of the same area. This time with information fed from OSM into Curvature to see what comes up:

Curvature Adirondacks

It looks like Adam is in for quite the adventure! At least three times on the route, he’ll encounter brief stretches where the road curves to a sizable degree, highlighted in red. Adam writes about the map we see above:

Pulling up the area in the area in the Curvature map, I can see that there a few smaller roads that are fabulously twisty and happen to generally parallel the most direct route. Curvature highlights the most twisty roads in a color-spectrum from yellow (moderately twisty) to pink (super twisty).

Note that the heavier, solid roads are ones that Curvature assumes are paved either because they have explicit surface tags entered in Open Street Map indicating they are paved, or are “primary” or “secondary” roads —which in most of the US and Europe are virtually always paved. The translucent roads are tertiary and smaller roads with no surface tags specified in Open Street Map yet.

Adirondacks Hurricane Rd

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You can see above that, when you click on a road, you get information about the surface, the length, and the curvature, with the latter being the important bit:

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Now Let’s Try It For Ourselves

I live in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX near the airport. So even though I own a Miata, a 2021 MX-5 RF, finding time to break away is a challenge because I live in between the two cities — difficult but not impossible.

So I pull up the surrounding area, and voila:

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North DFW TX - Curvature

Good news! There are a lot of colorful squiggles near me. A lot of them are orange to show decent curves if I feel like going for a leisure outing. But there’s one red line in the upper right corner that’s appealing. F.M. 455 that ends near McKinney, TX. The hilarious thing is I’ve actually been there and it is, indeed, a fun route to take. It’s been a while, I should go back.

Looking At David’s Hero Van Route

Toyota Sienna - $500

Soon, our very own David Tracy will fly out to St. Louis to rescue a $500 Toyota Sienna. Armed with tools and spare parts, he will attempt to coax life into it before setting off on a thousand-mile trek to Virginia before reaching his final destination in Chapel Hill, NC, where he will hand the keys to Jason to serve as his de-stressed hero van (all of his other cars are junk, and David fears this played into his recent heart troubles). Assuming David gets the van running, let’s explore what will come up on David’s journey.

As a quick reminder, here’s an outline of the route he plans to take:

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David Tracy - St Louis Route

Now, let’s pull up the Curvature results of the same area:

Curvature - David Tracy - St. Louis route

Okay, this bodes positive. I can tell he’s going to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains, but also some of the Appalachians and the surrounding Piedmont. Having lived in upstate New York previously, I know the east coast particularly well in terms of scenic beauty. That will be a pleasant drive to tackle.

You get the gist: All of us who write for this marvelous site keep a favorite driving destination in mind. For me, it’s north DFW country. For Matt Hardigee, it’s Blauvelt State Park hidden back upstate. For Thomas Hundal, it’s Rattlesnake Point where the old hillclimb course lies. We know how to have a great time.

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Curvature isn’t perfect, with some rather flat roads appearing pink and some great roads seemingly not getting as much love as they deserve, but the idea behind the site is legitimately cool, and I implore our resident Wrencher of Rust Buckets to use Curvature and send pictures of the routes he takes along the way in that old van. God speed, David!

[Ed Note: Finding twisty roads will be the least of my concerns! It’s going to be like, one degree Fahrenheit in St. Louis, and I’ll be freezing my butt off trying to fix this van! -DT]

Image Credits: (Top graphic) Mazda; Stock.Adobe.com; (Story images) Curvature, author, David Tracy, Google Maps

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Myk El
Myk El
5 months ago

I’m afraid this needs work. It’s got the loop through the east part of Saguaro Nat’l Park as super twisty, which it is, but anyone thinking they’re going to have a good time driving it is in for an unpleasant surprise.

Otter
Otter
5 months ago

The best roads should require research and effort to get to. My favorite of all time, in southern Spain, is pink af, but you’ve got to find it first.

Dan1101
Dan1101
5 months ago

It’s pretty accurate for central Virginia. Just don’t be fooled by Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, they are quite curvy but speed limit is 35 or 45.

Otter
Otter
5 months ago
Reply to  Dan1101

For much of it, that is fast enough. Or you can do what I did and do it in December when it’s cold and empty.

Dan1101
Dan1101
4 months ago
Reply to  Otter

IMO it is not at all as fast as I want to go, but to each their own. I got a speeding ticket on the Blue Ridge Parkway when I was like 18. I think I was going 54 in a 35 and the park ranger was pretty threatening saying even though it’s a park if I didn’t pay the ticket then I would get charged at the county courthouse or something.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
5 months ago

Without having even looks at the other 44 comments, I would wager most of them are telling of stretches of road that they know of. Well, let me join them. I zoomed in on the southeast corner of Kansas where it showed not a single road at any resolution.

Bullshit! Start your trip where US160 enters Kansas. Follow it to where it leaves. I can asure, you will be entertained.

Last edited 5 months ago by Opa Carriker
Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
5 months ago

Near my very flat and not twisty city, apparently one of the best loops is on the military base, specifically what looks to be the gun range! Will make for a spicy cruise

Ben
Ben
5 months ago

I’m not sure how accurate this is. Looking at some roads in my area that I know are good, I see they’re rated as less curvy than some relatively boring roads that only have a lot of wide sweeping turns. I think it needs to weight curves with a tighter radius higher than it does. Or maybe the good roads have curves so tight they’re being smoothed out of the map data? Either way, if you planned a drive based solely on this map you’d miss basically all of the best roads in the area. :-/

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
5 months ago

I feel like this sorely needs a community feature that lets people suggest and rate roads. Almost everything highlighted in my area is a 20mph residential road filled with baby-stroller-pushing obstacles, parked cars and blind corners. Meanwhile, the C&D road test loop, which is surprisingly close by, isn’t highlighted at all.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
5 months ago

Did anyone else read the logo as ‘urvature’ and think what a terrible name?

Oldskool
Oldskool
5 months ago

Looks good on paper. There are a few good roads around my familiar area, like recently paved state highways with 20 mph corners, so you can take your car to the limits without speeding, and wide open enough to not endanger anyone. But a lot of them are people’s long driveways, narrow drives through HOA’s, even ski hill service roads. For the good roads, you’d have to grab that narrow window between winter and tourist season.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
5 months ago

What struck me is one of the roads near me that shows up has a LOT of blind curves, view restricting elevation changes, and odd angled private driveways. Subsequently it has a 25 MPH speed limit. It’s super dangerous to be “spirited” on, and not fun to drive at the speed limit with VERY good reason.

There’s also a road NOT listed that’s a satisfyingly curvy 40 MPH rural road with virtually no driveways, no elevation change, and good sight lines in every curve.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
5 months ago

Wow, perfect timing to learn about this. I’m planning a college tour for our son to check out UNC Charlotte for motorsport engineering. We are driving from Maine since flying during April break is expensive, and I know the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Tail of the Dragon are relatively close. I can’t wait to look up routes today using this new site.
***gravelmap.com is what cyclists use to find dirt roads near them. It’s set up in a similar open source way. Thought I’d share that here since not all roads should be paved.

Chronometric
Chronometric
5 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

Two words, Cherohala Skyway.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
5 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Looking it up now.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
5 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

Agreed, far better than the dragon.

Ncbrit
Ncbrit
5 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

182 from Fallston to Lincolnton. It’s not a particularly long stretch, but with a mostly 55 limit, it’s a fun drive.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
5 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

I imagine you’ll take 81 to 77 at Wytheville, VA. If you stay on 81 and head a bit south to Marion, VA you can check out ‘Back of the Dragon’. Way less traffic than the tail, and about 3 times as long (32 vs 11 miles).

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
5 months ago

I’ll look that up too. It’s all new to me since I’ve never been down that way. So many great looking roads. I may have to rent a fun car for a day.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
5 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

There’s a Back of the Dragon center in Tazewell that serves as a cafe and brewery…I believe they will rent you a Polaris Slingshot by the hour.

I don’t know how fun they are, but Turo seems not to have much in the area.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
5 months ago

Wow, any curvy roads in DFW is amazing, this is cool.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
5 months ago

“Oh this is neat, maybe Illinois doesn’t suck as much as I thought.”
Looks at Curvature.
“Oh wow, Illinois sucks even more than I thought.”

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
5 months ago

As an automotive enthusiast who LIVES on one of these roads, I strongly disapprove. We have major problems with street racing up here (hill climb type thinking), and not only have serious traffic problems when the roads are clear between the tourists, bicyclists, and boi racers, but have had multiple wrecks, including one that crashed in the middle of the most densely populated part of the canyon and burst into flames in the peak of fire season. I personally put 6 fire extinguishers into that idiot’s Subaru while the fire department took 40 minutes to get there. Things like this only serve to make the problem worse. Responsible adults referring responsible adults is one thing. Putting this out there for any instagram account holder to stick a gopro on their roof is asking to get people hurt.

I’ll remove my angry old man hat now.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
5 months ago
Reply to  Spectre6000

I will join you in yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. I live just off of an arterial that some of the local kar kiddies think is a great drag strip (which it most definitely is NOT, and about once a month one learns a lesson by catching too much air and wrecking). Giving them a new and shiny tool to create mayhem isn’t the best idea in the world.

I love me a curvy, scenic road. But I also don’t want to be a nuisance to the locals, so those tend to be planned day trips up into the mountains.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
5 months ago
Reply to  Spectre6000

People should be responsible.

But if you live where people want to visit you shouldn’t be mad when people show up. This applies to ski towns, good roads, beaches, etc.

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
5 months ago

It’s not any sort of actual destination. There’s nothing out here. It’s just a road reasonably close to civilization. By all means, show up. Just don’t be an ash hole. That’s the problem here. The speed limit is 35mph, and working with the police and the county, people have been clocked going well over 100mph on many occasions. Over 60 is exceedingly common. That’s not showing up, that’s abuse of residents.

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