Driving can be a thrilling experience, but sometimes the road ahead can be more perilous than exciting. From narrow mountain roads and hairpin turns to crumbling bridges and extreme weather, some of the world’s highways and byways are notoriously dangerous. We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most dangerous roads on the planet, each with its own unique challenges and hazards. Whether you’re planning a road trip or simply looking to satisfy your curiosity, read on to learn more about the world’s most treacherous routes.
North Yungas Road, Bolivia
Also known as the “Death Road,” this narrow passageway hugs the mountainside in the Andes, with sharp cliffsides on one side and no guardrails. It’s only wide enough for one vehicle, and drivers must honk before rounding any corners. There are plenty of stories about vehicles that have taken a plunge down the ravine.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan and China
This winding road is the highest paved international road in the world, with hairpin turns, steep inclines, and unpredictable weather. Landslides, avalanches, and rockfalls make it a dangerous route, as well as the fact that it passes through areas with a high risk of terror attacks.
James Dalton Highway, Alaska
This isolated road stretches over 400 miles from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and is mostly gravel, with very few gas stations or services. Drivers need to be prepared for extreme cold, high-risk wildlife encounters, and long stretches of isolation.
Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
This road was cut into the side of a mountain by local villagers in the 1970s using only hand tools. It’s only about 12 feet wide, with sheer drops on one side and a rock wall on the other side. The tunnel’s construction was so difficult that five workers died during the process.
Zoji La Pass, India
At over 11,000 feet above sea level, this road is often closed during the winter, which can last up to eight months. When the weather is clear, the road is still treacherous, with narrow lanes, sudden drops, and no guardrails.
Halsema Highway, Philippines
This highway is only two lanes wide, with no street lighting and dozens of tight turns. Fog is common, which makes visibility an issue, and landslides and rockslides can occur at any time.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
In addition to stunning views, this road offers 48 hairpin turns, steep inclines, and limited visibility around curves. The road is often covered in ice and snow during the winter months, making it a treacherous journey even for experienced drivers.
Atlantic Road, Norway
This road may be relatively short – about eight kilometers – but it has eight bridges and several sharp curves that make it a challenging route. During the winter, the road can be closed due to rough weather conditions.
Sani Pass, South Africa
This road is unpaved and winds through the Drakensberg Mountains, with steep gullies and hairpin bends. When it’s wet, it’s almost impossible to navigate due to mud and slippery rocks. It’s recommended that only four-wheel-drive vehicles attempt this route.
Col de Turini, France
Located in the French Alps, this road has more than 30 dangerous hairpin turns and steep inclines. During the winter, there’s often black ice on the road, making it a dangerous journey.
Passage du Gois, France
This road is only accessible during low tide, and those who don’t make it across before the rising tide may face a watery grave. The road is also quite slippery when wet, so be sure to check the tide schedule before venturing onto it.
Leh-Manali Highway, India
This road passes through some of the highest mountain passes in the world and is only open for a few months out of the year. Weather can be extreme, with heavy snowfall and landslides, making it a dangerous trek.
Dalton Pass, Philippines
This road is one of the country’s most treacherous because it’s often full of potholes and landslides. It’s also one of the busiest roads in the country, which means that drivers must contend with oncoming traffic on narrow lanes.
Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand
This narrow, unpaved road runs through a canyon that’s only wide enough for one vehicle at a time, with steep drops down to the river. Driving this road requires precision and concentration.
Tizi n’ Tichka Pass, Morocco
This mountain pass is the highest in Morocco, reaching an altitude of more than 7,000 feet. The road is narrow and winding, with no guardrails and steep drops. It’s also a popular route for heavy trucks and buses, which can make the journey even more perilous.
The Pan-American Highway, North and South America
This highway stretches 19,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina and is frequently subjected to heavy traffic, narrow lanes, and sharp curves. In some sections, the road passes through areas known for crime, making it a risky journey.
Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan
This winding road passes through the Taroko Gorge, with sheer cliffs, tight curves, and limited visibility. Heavy rain can cause landslides and rockfalls, which can close the road at any time.
Milford Road, New Zealand
This is one of the most scenic drives in the world, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. The road is prone to heavy snowfall and avalanches and can be treacherous even for experienced drivers.
Trans-Siberian Highway, Russia
This road stretches more than 11,000 kilometers from Moscow to the Sea of Japan and passes through some of the most remote parts of Russia. The road is often unpaved, with potholes, deep ruts, and unpredictable weather.
Kabul-Jalalabad Highway, Afghanistan
A notorious road in a war-torn country, this highway has been the site of numerous bombings, ambushes, and other criminal activities. The road is also narrow and unpaved, with deep potholes and no guardrails.
There’s no denying that driving can be a thrilling experience, but it’s important to remember that not all roads are created equal. It’s essential to be prepared and exercise caution when navigating some of the world’s most dangerous routes, whether you’re a local or a tourist. While some of these roads may offer stunning views and an unforgettable journey, it’s important to remember that they also come with significant risks. Always research routes ahead of time, know your vehicle’s capabilities and check local weather and road reports before venturing out. Safe travels!
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