These Breathtaking Roads Are Not for the Faint of Heart
Humans have been creating and maintaining roadways since the dawn of civilization. Over time, some of these pathways have devolved into unpaved, overgrown areas of wilderness. Others continue to display the strength of human ingenuity by defying nature...or even gravity!
But one thing all of these roads have in common is that traveling on them makes hearts pound and palms sweat. These dangerous, gorgeous and unreal roadways are not for the faint of heart, though they may be tempting for risk-takers and adventurers. Join us for a journey along the world's most breathtaking routes.
Guoliang Tunnel Road - China
Texting while driving is a considerable hazard. But, for travelers plodding along the Guoliang Tunnel Road, driving itself is a hazard. This stretch of road is carved into the side of the Taihang Mountains in China. It’s only about three-quarters of a mile long, but don't let its length fool you.
North Yungas Road/Death Road - Bolivia
There are a few routes around the globe that compete for the macabre title of "Deadliest Road in the World," but North Yungas Road in Bolivia is one of the top contenders. Also known as "Death Road," this path climbs upward nearly a mile before dropping down steeply for a little over two miles.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway - China
The Sichuan-Tibet Highway is one of the few well-traveled roads connecting China and Tibet. At about 1,300 miles from end to end it's one of the longer routes on this list, but it's definitely a manageable distance — at least it would be if it weren’t so dangerous. In terms of breathtaking views, heart-stopping cliffside drops and chilly mountain breezes, there's hardly any road that compares.
Vitim River Bridge - Siberia
Siberia's beauty largely comes from its forests, its tundra and its vibrant communities. And some of its beautiful features are its most dangerous. The Vitim is an ice-cold river that joins the Lena River and bisects the eastern areas of Russia. Thanks to its width, strength and temperature, travelers have long feared crossing it. Still, in the 1980s, a wooden train bridge was built across it to help facilitate commerce.
Fairy Meadows Way - Pakistan
The name "Fairy Meadows Way" conjures up an image of a quiet suburban street or a green, well-lit English garden. Most people wouldn't think about a gray, stone-ridden pathway through a craggy mountain in Pakistan when they hear "Fairy Meadows Way," but they should.
Stelvio Pass - Italy
One of the most dangerous aspects of a mountainside road is the inevitable section of switchbacks. Most rural roads are unpaved and easily destroyed by heavy wind and rain. Stelvio Pass is the longest paved mountaintop road in the world, so it has a little extra stability going for it, but it's still one of the most dangerous thanks to its head-spinning curves.
Luxor-al-Hurghada Road - Egypt
Driving through Egypt is a great way to test anyone's patience and endurance. Throughout most of the country, driving rules and regulations are pretty lax, and Western drivers may struggle to navigate the roadways safely. This is especially true of the 188-mile-long Luxor-al-Hurghada Road.
Trans-Siberian Highway - Russia
Even though the Trans-Siberian Highway is almost 7,000 miles long, it's only the third-longest road in the world. Still, thanks to plenty of remote areas, inclement weather and degraded infrastructure, this highway can be one of the most difficult to travel.
Zoji La Pass - India
This mountainous pathway sits over 11,000 feet above sea level. The combination of falling rocks, unpaved roadways and reduced oxygen makes Zoji La Pass one of the most terrifying and potentially deadly paths in the world. Though it's only about 16 miles long, it typically takes motorists hours to wind their way along the bumpy trail.
Engineer Pass - Colorado
The narrow, pebbly lanes that make up Engineer Pass in Colorado are a dream for both off-road enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. Only the smallest, hardiest and best-equipped vehicles can safely navigate the pathway into the San Juan mountains.
Taroko Gorge Road - Taiwan
Gorges, mountains and canyons have always posed problems for roadbuilders and travelers. Consequently, the roads built in these types of environments tend to be old, hand-carved, potentially dangerous — and strikingly gorgeous. The single-lane Taroko Gorge Road might not pose the same problems as many mountainside pathways, but because it's at a lower elevation, it does suffer from frequent flooding.
Tianmen Mountain Road/99 Bends - China
Speaking of hairpin turns, also known as switchbacks, Tianmen Mountain Road in China may have the sharpest and most dizzying turns of any road in the world. It’s also known as "99 Bends" because it has about 100 unique turns and twists.
BR-116/Highway of Death - Brazil
Brazil's BR-116 roadway, also known as the Highway of Death, is one of the longest and most beautiful routes in the world. It also happens to be one of the most dangerous. At 2,700 miles in length, here, travelers can experience much of Brazil's natural beauty while riding along on paved, fairly wide asphalt highways.
Alaska Route 11/James W. Dalton Highway - Alaska
The James W. Dalton Highway is just over 400 miles long, though depending on the conditions, it may as well be a million miles. This gravel and dirt roadway winds across some of the most desolate and wild areas of Alaska, and it's often buried beneath snow and ice. The resulting driving conditions are less than safe during much of the year.
National Highway 08/Kabul-Jalalabad Road - Afghanistan
This rocky road isn't nearly as delicious as the ice cream, and it's far more dangerous. Kabul-Jalalabad Road follows along a perilously deep gorge and winds up the side, snaking into some truly dangerous areas. While the gray sands can cause visibility issues and falling rocks pose endless hazards, the greatest danger on this road is people.
Sa Calobra Road - Mallorca
This gorgeous route’s name translates to "The Snake" and is located on the picturesque island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain. The Mediterranean vibe of the island only accentuates its natural charm, and visitors can quickly find themselves enjoying the warm sunshine and sea breezes as they bound down Sa Calobra Road.
The Atlantic Ocean Road/Atlanterhavsveien - Norway
The Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway is one of the most gorgeous yet dangerous roadways in the world. Its curved design is reminiscent of a dragon's tail or roller coaster, and while it may not breathe fire or complete a full corkscrew turn, this road does pose a bit of a threat to drivers.
Eshima Ohashi Bridge - Japan
Steep drops and rises can make any motorist's palms begin to sweat. Not only are sharp inclines hard on a vehicle's engine, but they can also put gravity to the test. Then, sudden declines can cause brakes to squeal and lock, making steering nearly impossible. The Eshima Ohashi in Japan features both.
Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road - Greece
Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road in Greece may be a mouthful to say, but it's far more than a tongue-twister. This mountainous pathway isn't recommended for tourists, as there are hundreds of steep drop-offs, missing guardrails and sandy, unpaved switchbacks.
Cotopaxi Volcano Road - Ecuador
Ecuador is home to some outrageously beautiful locales, and it's a shame that many of the roads found in this South American nation aren't built to last. Travelers looking to visit Ecuador's Cotopaxi Volcano Park must first brave a bumpy, pothole-ridden, poorly maintained pathway that extends about 25 miles.
Skippers Canyon Road - New Zealand
Skippers Canyon Road is a combination of sensory experiences. The road itself is mostly gravel and dirt, and it meanders above and through Skippers Canyon like a delicate bit of thread. Most motorists avoid it thanks to the sheer cliff drops and the absence of safety railings.
Moki Dugway - Utah
Many of the planet's most dangerous and breathtakingly beautiful trails and roads happen to be carved into mountain faces. The Moki Dugway in Utah is one such path, and while it's a mere 3 miles long, it's also incredibly difficult to drive on. Not only is the Moki Dugway unpaved, but it's also ridiculously steep.
Pan-American Highway - Chile to Alaska
The Pan-American Highway is the longest road in the world, even though there are short sections that require passage via boat. Still, this highway stretches all the way from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Puerto Montt, Chile. Thrillseekers looking to take on this ultimate driving challenge may be eager to tackle this highway, but there are several potential dangers.
Passage du Gois - France
Some roads are more magical than malicious. The Passage du Gois in France is one example. On the surface, it's just a stone-paved pathway leading to the small island of Noirmoutier. But when the tides roll in, that stony surface disappears beneath a dark and salty sea.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route/Roof of Japan - Japan
This roadway is known as the "Roof of Japan" thanks to its high elevation and consistent snowfall. It traverses Mt. Tateyama and Mt. Akazawa-dake and is closed during the winter. However, when it reopens in April, massive walls of snow greet arriving tourists.
R504 Kolyma Highway/The Road of Bones - Russia
When you come across a route called the "Road of Bones," you know things are about to get seriously spooky. At just over 1,200 miles in length, this Russian roadway is a massive graveyard. It was built almost entirely by prisoners, back when Russia was the U.S.S.R. and Stalin reigned.
Highway 1/Overseas Highway - Florida
Florida is home to some of the longest and most beautiful bridges in the world. The southern section of Highway 1, also known as The Overseas Highway, is essentially an incredibly long and flat series of bridges that connect Miami to the Florida Keys. Ranging from a two-lane road to a four-lane highway, this stretch of asphalt is fairly safe.
Killar-Kishtwar Road - India
Only the most hardened travelers can handle Killar-Kishtwar Road in India. With drops of several thousand feet, no guardrails and over 100 miles of unpaved path, this remote, mountainous route is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the danger of falling or running out of fuel, there are also gigantic boulders tumbling down periodically.
Montana State Highway 2 - Montana
People might assume that high-traffic areas are the most dangerous, and while this is sometimes true, it's often the remote and quiet stretches of road that yield disasters. When drivers get complacent or overly confident on a rural two-lane road, the universe tends to step in to correct that behavior.
Old Hindustan Tibet Road - India to Tibet
India has some of the oldest roads in the world. These pathways were built by pilgrims, farmers and traders over several centuries and are sometimes impassable by vehicles. And while the Old Hindustan Tibet Road was built in the late 1800s, it shares many features with some of India's oldest roadways and can, therefore, be quite dangerous.