The Most Dangerous Roads in the World
Would you dare drive on the most dangerous roads in the world? It’s common for drivers in the U.S. to experience terrible traffic and potholes. However, other drivers around the world have to deal with sheer drops, hairpin bends or rock slides every day. These treacherous conditions don’t stop some tourists who still travel on the scary highways for spectacular views.
If you’re brave enough, check out the most dangerous roads in the world and find out what makes them so terrifying.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan to China
Spanning the border between Pakistan and China, Karakoram Highway is also called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Locals know well the dangers of this region, and have since the road’s construction, when a landslide took the lives of 82 Chinese and 810 Pakistani workers. Weaving through Khunjerab Pass, drivers struggle with landslides, floods, avalanches and falling rocks, all on a road with no guardrails.
Massive Monsoons at Karakoram Highway
During July and August, heavy monsoons may cause flooding and landslides on Karakoram Highway. In 2010, a monsoon caused cliffs on the roadside to collapse, destroying parts of the highway. The monsoon was so strong that it also damaged infrastructure in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road, China
From a distance, Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road looks like it belongs in a storybook. Located in Tianmen Mountain National Park in central China, the picturesque road leads to the Tianmen Cave, also called the “Gate of Heaven.”
If You’re Too Scared to Drive on Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road
It’s not possible to take a break while driving Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road because there’s nowhere to pull over. Those who prefer to avoid the stress of driving themselves have the option of boarding a bus that goes up to the summit. However, bus riders still have to experience the 99 turns.
Pan American Highway, Alaska to Chile
The Pan-American Highway, otherwise known as the world's longest "motorable" road, runs through two continents: North America and South America. Covering 30,000 miles, the highway stretches from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to southern Chile.
Pan-American Highway Comes With A Lot of Risks
Besides the threats on the “Hill of Death,” drivers using this route will encounter many different environments, since the Pan-American Highway extends through mountains, jungles, deserts and glaciers. Unsurprisingly, driving on this route is easier during the dry season. Travelers face unfavorable conditions during the rainy season, such as high temperatures and impassable areas due to landslides.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China
Another risky highway is the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, which covers 1,500 miles of mountainous territory and connects China and Tibet. If the possibility of mudslides and avalanches doesn’t make you feel queasy, the high altitude just might do the job: Sections of the winding highway reach up to 16,400 feet. Travelers on this road report feeling dizzy and short of breath due to the high altitude.
A Risky Journey on Sichuan-Tibet Highway
The Sichuan-Tibet Highway offers breathtaking views of the mountains, rock formations and monasteries, but before traveling, it’s important to be aware of all potential risks. The BBC warns travelers that the journey comes with “breakdowns, police barricades, constant delays, headaches and altitude-induced vomit-stained windows.”
Kolyma Highway, Russia
Have you ever driven across a frozen river or lake? You may get the chance to do so along Russia’s Kolyma Highway. Take note, though, that this highway is full of challenges and dangers. Kolyma Highway is also known as “The Road of Bones,” named after all the prisoners who perished during the road’s construction.
Kolyma Highway is a Trap
If you’re looking for a relaxing drive, don’t plan on taking the Kolyma Highway. The cold season isn’t the only time Kolyma Highway is terrifying and impassable. This highway contains unpaved roads that can turn into a muddy trap during the wet season in July and August.
Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand
Imagine driving on a narrow road on the side of a near-vertical, crumbling cliff face. Down below, the Shotover River is raging. You’re driving carefully because the road is unpaved and has no guardrails. Suddenly, another car approaches from the opposite direction, but the road is only wide enough for one vehicle. Now, you must figure out how to safely pass each other. On Skippers Canyon Road, also known as Hell’s Gate, drivers face this challenging situation everyday.
16.5 Miles of Hell At Skippers Canyon Road
This road is considered so dangerous that insurance companies don’t accept the claims of those who drive it. For 16.5 long miles, drivers try their best to remain calm and not look down. Hopefully, you won’t encounter another driver going the opposite direction while you’re on the road—if you do, you’ll quickly come to understand why this is one of the world’s most dangerous roads..
North Yungas Road, Bolivia
The North Yungas Road, otherwise known as “The Death Road,” leaves visitors shaking. The 40-mile route connects the La Paz and Coroico cliffs in Bolivia. Living up to its nickname, many people have perished while traveling on the North Yungas Road.
Going Off the Edge at North Yungas Road
The North Yungas Road comes with many heart-pounding dangers. When it rains, the road becomes muddy and difficult to navigate. BBC News says truckers who get too tired or scared to go on pull over for the night. These truckers plan to rest until the storm passes. BBC News continues, “But they have parked too close to the edge. And as they sleep in their cabs, the road is washed away around them.”
Poor Visibility and Accidents at North Yungas Road
When thick fog and low clouds cause poor visibility, visitors must drive very carefully on this road to avoid falling over the edge or colliding with other vehicles. Poor visibility is even more dangerous when drivers can’t see another car approaching from the opposite direction.
North Yungas Road Safety Tips
Although the North Yungas Road is known for deadly falls and accidents, people from afar still visit. To stay safe, we recommend avoiding North Yungas Road, but travelers on Trip Advisor have advice for those risky enough to make the trip. According to these travelers, it’s best to go at your own pace, bring safety equipment and follow the tour guides.
You’ll Lose Your Breath At Skippers Canyon Road
Today, Heritage New Zealand recognizes Skippers Bridge as a protected historical site. Many thrill-seekers make the trip through the canyon for the spectacular views and to see the feat of engineering, which sits 328.1 feet above the river near Queenstown in Central Otago.
Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan
Narrow lanes, sharp turns and blind bends plague Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan. To make matters worse, the road is located on the side of a cliff. Mother Nature also adds uncertainty to the mix. Taroko Gorge Road frequently experiences rockfalls, landslides and flooding. After typhoons or earthquakes hit, the road is closed because sections of the road are impassable. Sometimes, important bridges in the canyon get destroyed.
Taroko Gorge Road is Scary and Deadly
The National Post reports that 450 people died during the road’s construction. Today, the road can still be deadly—leading to why it makes the list of most dangerous roads. Turning a blind corner into an oncoming vehicle is the highest risk for drivers. Even during the day, authorities encourage travelers to drive the 11.8-mile road with their headlights on at all times to avoid any accidents. This hair-raising journey is not for the faint of heart.
James Dalton Highway, Alaska
Many professional truckers use the James Dalton Highway in Alaska. The reality TV show “Ice Road Truckers” features the nerve-racking road in many episodes. What makes this road so dangerous is that only 1/4 of the 414-mile highway is paved.
Great Views, But James Dalton Highway is Intimidating
Although the James Dalton Highway makes some people quake in fear, it’s a popular adventure for travelers. Many people visit the road to see the breathtaking scenery. However, there’s a high chance you’ll be white-knuckling the whole drive if you’re not prepared.
Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
Located in Henan, China, Guoliang Tunnel looks like a scene from a fairytale. Before the road was built, villagers from Guoliang struggled to cross the mountain to reach nearby towns. A set of steps carved into the rocks was the only way to access Huixian, Xinxiang and Henan Province of China. However, the locals preferred not to take that unsafe path. As a result, local villagers from Guoliang carved the jaw-dropping tunnel road into the mountainside in 1972.
Less Than a Mile, Yet Guoliang Tunnel Road is Terrifying
Guoliang Tunnel Road’s length is less than one mile, but don’t let the short length fool you — this road is seriously risky. The road has no guardrails, so it’s important that drivers stay close to the mountainside. Drivers also face steep drops and rock falls. The tunnel becomes even more dangerous during rainfall or fog.
Zoji La, India
Traveling on roads that weave through enormous mountains is often considered dangerous. One such route is the treacherous Zoji La in India. Most residents need to cross the pass to reach Ladakh and Kashmir. Sitting at an elevation of 11,575 feet, Zoji La isn’t a place for visitors to have a relaxing time.
Zoji La Has Up 79 Feet of Snowfall
Zoji La is so narrow, there’s only room for one car on the unpaved road. Not only is the pass extremely narrow, but heavy snowfall often makes the route impassable. If you’re planning to visit Zoji La Pass, make sure to go when it’s not snowing. The snowfall also often shuts down the pass for almost half the year.
Kabul-Jalalabad Highway, Afghanistan
Kabul-Jalalabad Highway connects Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan. The 89-mile road follows the Kabul River Gorge. Drivers face many risks on this treacherous route, including scary cliffs and narrow turns.
Vehicle Mayhem on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway
When there’s no traffic, drivers often speed and crash on the highway. Careless drivers can also find themselves at risk of falling over the edge at each narrow turn. Reckless driving causes many of the fatal traffic accidents on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway.
Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan
Located in Pakistan, Fairy Meadows Road is an unmaintained gravel road. This means that there are no guardrails to keep drivers safe from the sheer drops on one side of the mountain.
Fairy Meadows Road Contains High Danger
Knowing how treacherous this road is may prevent you from enjoying the view. Besides featuring a deadly narrow path, Fairy Meadows Road includes terrifying heights and unstable terrain. Many roads that aren’t maintained are considered dangerous. Fairy Meadows Road definitely qualifies in this regard, since it has no barriers or a safe terrain.
Serious Elevation at Fairy Meadows Road
However, if you’re up for a challenge, many thrill-seekers take this road to climb the ninth highest mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat. Make sure to check when Fairy Meadows Road is closed before visiting. During the winter, authorities close Fairy Meadows Road because of heavy snowfall, often because of avalanches and ice that damage sections of the road.