The World’s Most Dangerous Roads And Highways Will Make Your Palms Sweat
We all have a bad time on the road sometimes. Maybe we have to deal with reckless drivers, annoying traffic, or the occasional fender-bender on a major freeway. But most of us don’t have to deal with precipitously steep slopes or sloppy muddy roads on a daily basis. For some, however, these roads are the norm. And here we aim to explore the most treacherous of the treacherous roads on planet Earth. If you’re scared of heights, you might want to prepare yourself.
1. Kabul-Jalalabad Highway
The Kabul-Jalalabad Highway takes you into or from Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The most perilous part of the 89-mile-long highway is that which outlines the Kabul River Gorge. Here, the road faces narrow turns and jarring valleys. And, as you’d expect from any dangerous road, the turns and narrows are lined by precipitous drops.
As you can see from the photo above, there are numerous instances in which the road parallels such drops. You’ll face imminent danger at one point or another along this hellish highway. Hopefully you won’t encounter people trying to turn around. These drivers will just add to the excitement of an already white-knuckled trip. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, we’ll check in on does Brazil’s infrastructure challenges.
2. Fairy Mountain Road
This road in Pakistan is beyond tumultuous. It is also, however, completely unmaintained. And because of this (and not to mention its terribly foreboding heights), the Fairy Mountain Road has earned itself a place high on the list of the world’s most dangerous roads. You might want to consider this on your next trip to Pakistan.
Among the other factors that make this road terrifying are the fact that it does not have guardrails and that it’s entirely made of gravel. And beyond that, the roads are hair-thin. Another unfortunate fact about this road is that you have to take it if you want to ascend the ninth highest mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat.
3. Guoliang Tunnel Road
China is a beautiful place. Full of wonders like the Yellow Mountains and the so-called “Precipitous Pillars” of the Zhangjiajie, China has many naturally occurring beauties. But of the scourges of this beautiful nation include the manmade. Case-in-point: the nefarious cave-dwelling Tunnel Road in Henan Province.
Tunnel Road is horrifyingly narrow. Like Fairy Mountain Road, this thin slice of terror is carved alongside a steep mountain ridge complete with abrupt doom on one side. The road was constructed by a mere 13 people and has been open for a little over four decades. The tunnel itself is around 15 feet in width, so compared to some other roads listed, that’s considered spacious.
4. Yungas Road
This thoroughfare has won the prestige of danger junkies everywhere with an astonishing death toll of around 200 to 300 people. This staggeringly high number of deaths happened upon travel from La Paz, Bolivia to Corocio. The 43-mile-long journey is not for those frightened by stupendously steep heights. For many, it’s questionable whether the journey is worth the risk.
Recently, the original path was replaced by a modern, flatter road. Among its benefits are that it’s paved to be smoother than before, reducing the bumps that could send vehicles over the perilous edge. Thank goodness. If you’re a daredevil that doesn’t mind finding themselves in the type of situation seen above, then perhaps this road is one you should consider traveling.
5. Zoji La Pass
While mountains are one of the natural geologic wonders of this Earth, they are also one of the most harrowing. And this is made even more evident when roads are built alongside their rocky slopes. It’s easy to ask yourself why people even venture the journey, but for many locals, these paths are part of the normal routine.
The Zoji La Pass, which takes you from the Indian State of Jammu to Kashmir, takes you up to heights of around 11,000 feet. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if the conditions of the road were manageable. But since the road is barely paved and lined with steep drops, this is the opposite of what you get. We’d recommend an alternative route.
6. Atlantic Road
While this Norwegian road offers plenty of views of the beautiful ocean landscape, it also offers a plethora of peril. And this is what earns it a place among the most dangerous roads the world has to offer. This peril is dished up in the eight different intersections at which this road aligns with the ocean.
So if the thrill of the dangerous gives you spike in adrenaline (and that’s something you enjoy), we’d recommend you drive yourself down this salty segway. It might be advantageous, however, to check the weather before you go. It wouldn’t be too fun to find yourself in a storm like this one.
7. Paso de los Libertadores
This road runs along the sinuous Chile-Argentina border. In its entirety, it scales 10,000 bravery-melting feet. The reason it climbs such dizzying heights? Yes, it ascends through the Andes, one of the most stunning mountain ranges in the world. While that may sound like the coolest thing ever, it’s actually quite intimidating.
There are some portions of the road, like in the photo above, that circulate so twistedly that they’ve been called “the Snails.” This road in particular comes complete with 20 hairpin turns, which—for obvious reasons—must be approached with gruelingly slow speeds to pass. Anything over 10 mph through these turns will surely lead to danger.
BR-116 is one of the more scenic of these terribly terrifying roads. What makes it scenic is that it takes you past some gloriously high mountain ranges, including the Dedo de Deus, Pedra do Sino, Verruga do Frade, and Dedo de Nossa—each of which is in Brazil.
The road also travels the bulk of Brazil’s coast, traveling something like 2,700 miles long. Another factor that makes this road dangerous, however, is that it’s frequented by gangs and warlords of a dubious nature. Drivers are at risk of robbery and illicit traffic stops. This, among the twisty-tight roads that circumambulate the mountains, make this freeway something to fear.
9. Stelvio Pass
Italy is home to all sorts of goodies. You have vineyards as far as the eye can see, volcanoes like Mount Vesuvius and Mount Etna, and—last but not least—mountain ranges spanning from the Apennines to the Alps. But, as with any mountainous region, transport from one mountain range to a nearby town will involve a healthy dose of peril.
This road takes you from one of the higher ranges in the Alps to the a slightly lower region. The average elevation of the freeway is a breath-taking 9,000 feet. What makes it dangerous is the litany of hairpin turns, making you feel as if you’re descending a thousand switchbacks in an unmaneuverable car—which, come to think of it, is exactly what you’re doing.
10. Commonwealth Avenue
While the other roads on this list have mostly been mountainous roads with perilous drops and few rails to protect them, this road is normal, paved, and flat. So what, you ask, makes it so dangerous? Why, the other people of course! Spanning 18 lanes of Quezon City in the Philippines, this road suffers three to five accidents per day.
The often cited reason for this mind-bogglingly high number of traffic incidents is the lack of regulation. There are very few police officers to divvy out tickets, and even fewer to check drivers for their egregiously fast speeds. And so, the result is a drastically daunting number of accidents.
11. Adriatic Highway
Croatia is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. This is likely why it was chosen by Game of Thrones to be the location of King’s Landing. But with mountainous beauty, as we’ve learned, often comes with perilous roads. Croatia is no different. Along the Adriatic Highway, for instance, you find ample danger.
The Adriatic Highway runs along Croatia’s coast, stretching from Bosnia to Montenegro. And along much of this highway, you’ll glide without barriers alongside a steep drop into the Adriatic Sea. While the sea may be beautiful, it is not a place you want your car to take a nap. This is especially true if you’re inside it.
12. Dalton Highway
Another home to the most beautiful mountain ranges on Earth is Alaska. And this is where we find the Dalton Highway, another of the most dangerous roads one can traverse. So if you’re planning a trip to the great expanses of the deep Northwest, let us recommend that you avoid this bad boy. At least if you’re trying to stay perfectly safe.
What makes this road dangerous is its severe isolation. It runs from the town of Fairbanks north 400 miles through the frigid cold. Another terrifying feature of this road is that it’s full of giant logger trucks. The road is so perilous that it’s been featured regularly on the show Ice Road Truckers. That’s probably another reason you’ll want to avoid it.
13. Ruta Nacional 5
The Ruta Nacional 5 takes you along Chile’s long and winding insides. What’s considered dangerous about this road, however, isn’t necessarily what it has going on. Instead, it’s the opposite. This road has so little to stimulate the mind that drivers often nod off into the land of dreams, causing them a rude awakening when they plunge into the nearby sand dunes.
This danger is made worse by the fog that often suffocates the landscape. This thick and opaque fog makes it difficult to drive with any real security. For this deceptive trait, the road is considered one of the more dangerous that you can drive on.
14. The Pan-American Highway
The Pan-American Highway is the longest freeway in the world, stretching from Alaska in the north to Buenos Aires in South America. One spot of this highway, however, is so extremely dangerous as to have merited numerous documentaries cataloging its treachery. It’s so thick with jungle, in fact, that no actual roads run through it. Yikes.
And what’s the most volatile part of this trip? The Darian Gap, a 60-mile stretch of land that barrels through—precariously, we might add—the dense, thick rainforests of Northernmost part South America, connecting Columbia below to Panama above. This jungle journey is frequented by hundreds who seek haven in places like the United States.
15. Cotopaxi Volcano Road
The Cotopaxi Volcano Road is exactly what it sounds like—a road that leads up a volcano. But what the road’s name doesn’t say is that the volcano you’re going to visit is active. And this activity can, as shown in the photo below, make your drive a little less than choice.
Among the other aspects of this road that make it something better left off the bucket list is that it is relatively unmaintained. It’s decorated with a whole lot of potholes and is made in many parts out of dirt. What’s more is that at some points you have to cross through a stream that likes to flash flood. Keep your eye on that water, then, if you plan on driving this pressure cooker.
16. The Trans-Siberian Highway
The Trans-Siberian Highway is a network of roads that navigate through Russia into destinations like the Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the Sea of Japan. One of the roads stretches 7,000 miles from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. The road is dangerous mainly because of how far it stretches through freezing conditions.
If you ask us, 7,000 miles is hard to maintain on the Siberian tundra. And because of this, you have many sections of the road that remain just as derelict as they are dangerous. It’s in this lack of care that you find most of the danger. If you do anticipate making a trek along the discouragingly long path, we recommend you go prepared.
17. Sichuan-Tibet Highway
The Sichuan-Tibet Highway is one of those that takes you up stupendously high mountains. In this case, many of these said mountains are around 13,000 feet. That means the amount of oxygen present at these altitudes is about half as much as you’d get at sea level, not to mention that there is also a precipitous abyss on one or both sides of the road.
The Chinese highway comes complete with 99 different mind-melting switchbacks at the Yela Mountain crossing in Guizhou alone. This dizzying number of back-and-forths is enough to make even the boldest of adrenaline junkies squeamish. If you’re afraid of heights and the hypoxia that can come with them, we’d recommend you find another way up this beautiful mountain.
18. Cat and Fiddle Road
Most of the roads we’ve talked about so far have been treacherous for the car; they were either two big or unnavigable to wind their way up or down the highway. Here, however, we have a road that is particularly perilous to the biker. This passageway is called Cat and Fiddle Road.
Cat and Fiddle Road (named for the inn that punctuates its terminus), is an extremely popular road for the views it gives of the surrounding Manchester area. The windy road offers vistas of many English towns. Unfortunately, however, the windiness of the road is what makes it the most dangerous road for bikers in the UK.
19. Skippers Canyon Road
New Zealand is home to more than just the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Kakapo. It is also home to another treacherous road. Known as Skippers Canyon Road, this perilous one-laner will have you reeling and whaling for your mother. For those who have conquered the terrifying road, they are left with battle scars of the psyche.
The road was initially constructed such that residents could travel to the south side of the island. That was 140 years ago. It’s so dangerous that certain New Zealand insurance companies don’t even cover accidents that happen on it. This isn’t a road that you would want to see another person on, lest you find yourself in a duel of mechanical wits.
20. Bayburt of Yolu
The Bayburt of Yolu is found in Turkey’s Trabazon province and, for obvious reasons, has found itself on our list. It is one lane, has no guard rails, and is lined by a vertigo-inducing drop on one side. Not only that, but the sheer cliff on the road’s left (or right, depending on whether you’re ascending or descending) is a rockslide hazard.
Of the other harrowing things that grace this freakish idea of a road is the loose gravel and switchbacks that plague its every turn. If you’re trying to go for a nice, little drive through the province, we wouldn’t recommend this drive. We might even recommend that you just stay inside and do some breathing exercises instead.
21. Furka Pass
Unlike many of the more petrifying roads we’ve detailed, Furka Pass is nicely paved and maintained. If you’re asking yourself why it’s dangerous, then, just sit back and bend an ear: the answer will blow your mind (not guaranteed). The road is located in the Swiss Alps. If you drive the road in the winter, then, you’re in for some nasty weather.
This winter danger is amplified by the road’s dizzying number of hairpin turns and switchbacks. Having to maneuver each of these weakly guarded turns in poor weather is a recipe for disaster, as you can ask anyone. All we can recommend is that you drive this road with caution.
22. Col du Chaussy
Considered one of the most scenic drives in the world, the Col du Chaussy takes you through the Rhone-Alps in southeastern France. It’s also considered a stupendous achievement of human engineering, allowing drivers to scale a steep cliff face in 17 effortless turns. Okay, they do take some effort to navigate.
Roads like the Col du Chaussy are given a specific name—Balcony Roads. We’ve covered many of these so far. Essentially, all that distinguishes them is that they face over a sheer cliff with steep, steep angles. You’ll want to avoid this road if you have a fear of heights, then. They can be nauseating.
23. Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road
The circuitous Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road can be found in the similarly named Tianmen Mountain National Park in Zhangjiajie, China. While the road isn’t necessarily that dangerous, it is steep. The road climbs about 3,000 feet in the span of six miles. Trust us, that’s a rapid incline.
One thing that’s nice about this road is that you don’t actually have to drive it. Instead, you could ascend in a cable car. This is actually one of the more famous ways in which to ascend the mountain, enabling you to see much of the park. It’s also the longest cable car ride in the world, and quite a bit safer.
24. Gorges du Dades
The Gorges du Dades is a winding road in Morocco, northwestern Africa. While the road is definitely winding and lined by plenty of angles to fly off the edge, it’s paved and for the most part safe at slow speeds. It should be clear, however, that a drive down the road will entail some careful navigation.
The road is made especially dangerous by the actual type of driving that occurs in Morocco. The drivers are notorious, according to some, for their reckless abandon on the road. Locals may find sailing the Gorges du Dades to be second nature by now, taking these hairpin turns at egregiously excessive speeds. Exercise caution; newbies have been warned.
25. Amalfi Coast Highway
The Amalfi Coast Highway is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful drives one can experience. It takes you along the coast of Italy from the mountain towns of Amalfi to Scala and Vietri sul Mare. But, as is the case with any coastal drive, the risk of rock slides and slippery-steep slopes into the ocean are always a risk.
If you plan on taking this drive down one of the most beautiful coastlines on planet Earth, then we recommend that you take your turns with languorous ease. You don’t want to accelerate the drive any faster than you need to, and definitely don’t want to propel yourself off a beautiful Italian cliff.
26. Leh-Manali Highway
The Leh-Manali Highway in India is one of the highest highways in existence. Its average elevation is a staggering 17,000 feet. That’s only 3,000 feet shorter than the tallest mountain range in North America—Mount Denali in Alaska. You might want an oxygen tank if you plan on ascending this terrifying road.
And, as you can see from these photos, the road is dangerous for many reasons beyond the appalling heights. Mud, in other words. When there is mud on a steep road, that’s a problem. This is especially true without the utility of an all-terrain car or SUV. We’d recommend you don’t take this road unless you absolutely must.
27. Colorado 550
The Colorado 550 is a part of the Million Dollar Highway in western Colorado. It spans from the towns of Silverton to Ouray. It’s called the Million Dollar Highway because of the sights and scenes that one will find along the way—beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountain ranges and ski towns of the region.
Just kidding—while that reasoning would make sense, the road is actually called the Million Dollar Highway because it was claimed to have cost a million dollars per mile. That’s what happens when you build a road through the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains. Anyways, like any mountainous road, this highway is no different. Disasterous drops and hazards abound. Drive safe out there, folks!