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Tarim Desert Highway

Take a ride on the longest desert road in the world


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A 552-km-long (343-mi) Tarim Desert Highway or Cross-Desert Highway (CDH) runs across the Taklamakan Desert from north to south, connecting the cities of Luntai and Minfeng. The world's longest road built across the shifting-sand dunes gets frequently buried by hazardous sands. So the experience of riding this road is quite surreal and definitely special. The desert road was built in 1995 after the local petroleum industry started expanding which required a route across the desert in the middle of Xinjiang autonomous territory.

The road across Tarim Basin covers mostly uninhabited and secluded areas. It takes about five hours to complete the route. Visitors can see plenty of desert landscapes and vegetation. Ancient poplar forests in Tazhong Oasis, about 300 km (185 mi) south of Luntai, is the main attraction on the road. It's also an excellent place to make a stop since there are restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other infrastructure.

Some sections of Tarim Desert Road look like green corridors if you see them from a plane. Trees and bushes on both sides of the way were planted during the construction intentionally to prevent the sand from covering the highway. This created a kind of green oasis. Vegetation is watered regularly through a special irrigation system. Tarim Desert Highway also has a few gas stations and cafeterias where visitors can take a break from the road.

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