Photo courtesy of iStock / sharrocks
We've all traveled through dark, boring tunnels, but these exceptional passages are a far cry from dull. Here are 10 of the coolest tunnels around the world.
Photo courtesy of iStock / Daniela Rodriguez
Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel - Utah
One of the nation's most scenic tunnels can be found in Utah. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on the highway between Utah's Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park includes a series of "windows" in the sandstone walls, allowing drivers to look out over some pretty spectacular vistas. Don't forget to watch the road!
Photo courtesy of E+ / Terraxplorer
Bund Sightseeing Tunnel - Shanghai, China
The main purpose of any tunnel is to get you from Point A to Point B quickly, and the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shanghai will get you across – or rather below – the Huangpu River. This rather bizarre tourist attraction transports guests in automated cars through a tunnel filled with LED lights, strange audiovisual effects and deep voices speaking foreboding words, like "hell" and "magma."
Photo courtesy of iStock / TPopova
Laerdal Tunnel - Norway
Norway has the distinction of being home to the world's longest completed road tunnel, the Laerdal Tunnel that passes through 15 miles of mountainous terrain. The engineers who created the tunnel didn't want to subject drivers to 20 minutes of boredom, so they divided the tunnel into several sections, each with its own lighting and subtle curvature to keep drivers engaged.
Photo courtesy of iStock / rafalkrakow
Tunnel Log in Sequoia National Park - California
In the early days of Sequoia National Park's existence, park officials created two tree tunnels – one you can walk through and another you can drive through – in an effort to bring more visitors to the park. It worked, and every year hundreds of cars pass through a "tunnel" carved from a giant 2,000-year-old Sequoia tree that fell across Crescent Meadow Road in 1937.
Photo courtesy of iStock / xenotar
Large Hadron Collider Tunnel - Geneva, Switzerland
The tunnel housing the Large Hadron Collider might just be the world's most scientifically important one. The 17-mile-long tunnel sits more than 500 feet beneath the surface of Geneva, Switzerland and serves as the laboratory for scientists studying the field of particle and high energy physics.
Photo courtesy of iStock / Joe_Potato
Yerba Buena Tunnel - San Francisco, California
The Yerba Buena Tunnel in San Francisco certainly isn't the world's longest, but it remains the widest single bore tunnel in the world more than 80 years after it was built. The 76-foot-wide tunnel carries five lanes of traffic in each direction. The designers of the tunnel decided that it would be cheaper to cut through the small island in the San Francisco Bay than to build one giant bridge across it.
Photo courtesy of iStock / fotoVoyager
The Channel Tunnel - English Channel
The Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel as it's often referred to, is the world's longest international tunnel and connects London with France by passing beneath the English Channel. The 31.3-mile passage also contains the largest vehicle transport in the world in the form of the Eurotunnel Shuttle. At its deepest, the Channel Tunnel sits 380 feet below sea level.
Photo courtesy of iStock / gyro
Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line - Japan
The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line combines a 6-mile tunnel with a 3-mile-long bridge feeding into it, but perhaps its most interesting feature is the giant rest stop perched on top of it, complete with shops, restaurants and an observation deck where drivers can get out and stretch their legs before entering the tunnel. The entire system took more than three decades to design and construct.
Photo courtesy of iStock / bee32
Sagano Bamboo Forest - Kyoto, Japan
The Sagano Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is considered one of the world's most beautiful "tree tunnels," and for good reason. Located in the Arashiyama district, this 1,000-foot-long path winds through densely planted bamboo trees, perfect for a peaceful walk or bike ride.
Photo courtesy of iStock / RobertHoetink
Siloam Tunnel - Jerusalem
Siloam Tunnel, also called Hezekiah's Tunnel, was dug beneath the City of David in Jerusalem as early as the eighth century BCE, making it one of the world's oldest known tunnels. A set of steps lead down into the tunnel, where visitors pass through knee-high water to the Pool of Siloam, fed by Jerusalem's only natural spring.