The Scariest Roads In The World

Trollstigen mountain road, Norway
Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Driving can be a stressful experience especially when there is heavy traffic or poor weather conditions. But if you think that’s bad wait until you learn about some of the world’s most dangerous roads. These roads are found in places like China, Norway, and even the United States. The narrow lanes, unprotected cliff edges, and steep unpaved terrains are just some of the characteristics that make these roads incredibly dangerous! Some of these roads may be worth the drive to encounter their unparalleled views while others are certainly worth avoiding. Nonetheless, here are the scariest roads in the world. 

Highway 550, Colorado

Highway 550 was built in the late 1880s and is known as the “Million Dollar Highway”. It has also earned the title as the most dangerous mountain pass in the United States. This is because it features narrow lanes, incredibly steep inclines, and sharp turns. In addition to that, the highway also has steep drop-offs and hardly any guardrails or shoulders to protect you. 

This dangerous road stretches for 25 miles and ascends from Ouray to the Red Mountain Pass in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. The road becomes even more treacherous starting in October when snow and avalanche debris become an additional threat. 

Lippincott Mine Road, USA

This 7-mile track out of Death Valley National Park in California doesn’t get much traffic and for good reason. The road reaches an altitude of 2,000 feet and has some fairly sheer drops. The road also doesn’ have any guardrails, it isn’t paved, and it’s very narrow. Drivers will need to navigate their 4-wheel drive vehicle around or over large boulders and also compete with the gravel track — which is usually no wider than a few feet. 

Losing traction could mean plummeting over the side of the cliff. The road’s also in a place called Death Valley in the middle of a desert. There is no water or cell reception out here. With that in mind, before embarking on this road you’ll want to make sure your car is in good working condition and make sure you’re prepared in case you do break down. Nonetheless, the road is a faster way to the park and it takes you by the famed Racetrack Playa.

Trollstigen Mountain Road, Norway

A nine percent incline and 11 narrow turns combined with poor weather conditions make Trollstigen Mountain Road one of the scariest roads in the world. The road winds up one of Norway’s numerous slopes. Due to its dangerous conditions, the road is closed during winter beginning in October through May. 

Furthermore, rain often decreases traction for vehicles and fog can impair visibility. Really, the fog is less scary and more of a shame: the road overlooks the Geirangerfjord in western Norway. The fjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means many tourists brave the twists and turns of the Trollstigen to catch a glimpse of fjords and lush valleys, as well as the Stigfossen waterfall. Between 2005 and 2012, the road underwent repairs and improvements that aimed to make it safer: rockfall guards were added and some sections were widened.

Yungas Road “The Road of Death”, Bolivia

With a nickname like that, you know traveling this road has got to be a bit of a risk. Yungas Road, also known as The Road of Death, connects the Bolivian capital of La Paz with Coroico. It has been named the most dangerous road in the world and the estimated death toll is between 200 and 300 people per year. 

During the 38-mile drive, the elevation drops from over 15,000 feet in La Paz to just 3,900 feet at the other end. Like most of the other roads on this list, it’s a narrow, barely one lane, and there are no guardrails to protect you along the way. That means a 2,000-foot drop over the side of the cliff is a definite possibility. Not only is the road dangerous but inclement weather can make the road even more dangerous. Rain can reduce visibility and turn the road surface muddy while fog can reduce visibility even further. All of that aside, the track does offer some astounding views of the Amazon rainforest that might make the trek worth it.

Dalton Highway, USA

If you’ve ever watched the “Ice Road Truckers” tv show on the History Channel, then you’ve probably heard of the Dalton Highway. This 414-mile road stretches through some pretty grim Alaskan tundra, and it was opened for one reason: transporting oil. There are only 3 gas stations along the entire route and for 240 miles of the road, there are no gas stations, restaurants, or other services — just empty, icy tundra. That’s the longest unserviced stretch in all of North America. 

Further, cell reception is spotty at best making it a risky situation if you get stuck. The road itself is made of gravel and laden with potholes. Most of the vehicles traversing it are 18-wheelers slinging ice at each other. The frigid temperatures and winter driving conditions can spell disaster for drivers. Even so, the road does pass through the Arctic circle and, at the right time of year, you could enjoy a spectacular show courtesy of the northern lights.

Karakorum “Friendship” Highway, China/Pakistan

The road was completed in 1979 as a collaboration, which gave the road its nickname. The Karakoram Highway stretches for 800 miles along parts of the old Silk Road trade route. The highway also holds the record as the highest international paved road in the world as it is 15,397 feet above sea level. 

Along the Karakorum, you can see K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, the Indus river, and Baltoro, a massive glacier. Even today, the trek through this territory remains dangerous. Some 1,000 workers perished during the construction and hazards like falling rocks and flash flooding still threaten drivers today. The mountainous road also features some fairly sheer drops and is relatively narrow. On the Pakistani side, the road isn’t paved either, which can make it even more treacherous.

Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand

This one-lane road twists its way through some of New Zealand’s most mountainous territory—which makes for some pretty dangerous and unpredictable driving conditions. The road is considered so dangerous that rental car insurance companies won’t cover you if you happen to take a tour down it (only one other New Zealand road has that honor). Even though this road is considered dangerous and scary, it is also considered as one of the country’s most scenic routes. Since the road is cut into the side of the mountain you’ll be able to take in the picturesque views of the Shotover River that runs through the valley below.  

The road itself was constructed by miners who clearly had expediency in mind, rather than the safety of future tourists. The road is narrow, unpaved, and features some wicked twists and sheer drops which make it dangerous to navigate on foot. If you must travel this 16.5-mile road, you might consider taking a tour bus and letting someone else do the driving for you.

Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan

This frightening road takes us to Pakistan and the base of Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest peak in the world. If you want to attempt the climb, you’ll first need to brave Fairy Meadows Road. The unpaved road is made of gravel that stretches six miles to Fairy Meadows at the base of Nanga Parbat. If you can survive the road, you might stand a chance at taking on the mountain. 

Not only is the road unmaintained but it also doesn’t feature any guardrails which make the drive even more nerve-wracking as there are many sheer drops. The area is also prone to heavy snowfall and avalanches, so much so that the road itself is closed during the winter. To top things off, the road narrows as you approach Fairy Meadows. The final section of the road is too narrow for vehicles, so you’ll have to hike or ride a bike. Is that worth it to climb the notorious Nanga Parbat? You decide.

Clinton Road

Clinton Road is located in West Milford, New Jersey. It’s known as the scariest road in America but not necessarily for its treacherous driving conditions like other roads on this list, but because it’s said to be haunted. The road has no shortage of terrifying legends that will make the drive scary and uncomfortable (especially if you believe in haunted tales). 

The road begins at Route 23 near the Newfoundland community and runs roughly 10 miles to Upper Greenwood Lake. The legends say you may encounter phantom headlights that come out of nowhere and follow you dangerously closely and then will disappear just as quickly as they came. Other stories say you may encounter paranormal occurrences such as sightings of ghosts or strange creatures and others say this is a popular place where witches and Satanists gather. Of course, this has not been proven true but a local police chief did say, “It’s a long, desolate stretch and makes the imagination go nuts.”

Los Caracoles Pass, Chile

Los Caracoles Pass connects Santiago, the capital of Chile, with Mendoza, Argentina. The road is a nightmare of twisting sharp turns spiraling down the steep inclines of the Andes. The windy path reaches an altitude of nearly 10,500 feet, where the road passes through the Cristo Redentor tunnel. The tunnel, which opened in 1980, actually shortened the route by six miles, lowered the maximum altitude by 600 meters, and eliminated 65 switchbacks. 

Furthermore, Los Caracoles is notorious for receiving some fairly heavy snowfall. One incident, in 2013, left approximately 15,000 people stranded when the road was closed after a snowfall of 40 to 50 centimeters. In addition to snow, rockfall is also a threat. It’s also worth noting that the Chilean side is worse than the Argentine. If you’re brave enough to make the trek, tire chains and patience are highly recommended!

Road to Hana, USA

The road to Hana, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, is like “driving a roller coaster,” says one driver who’s traveled the route. The road features blind corners, hairpin turns and big hills are compounded by the fact that the thoroughfare is a narrow coastal road. Since the road is so narrow, drivers often have to pull over to let other cars pass. 

There are 54 one-lane bridges on Highway 360. The road winds its way 42-miles to Hana, and much of the scenery is a sheer drop over the cliff into the ocean below. Since the region is mountainous, falling rocks are also a hazard and the weather doesn’t always cooperate with frequent rain making the road surface slick. Not to mention poor weather will make it even more difficult to navigate the 600 sharp turns. If you are brave enough to embark on the Road to Hana, you’ll be richly rewarded. Upon arrival, you’ll have your choice of state parks, breathtaking black sand beaches, waterfalls, and Paia Town — a laid-back pitstop, along the way.

Bayburt Of Yolu-D915, Turkey

This road connects the Turkish cities of Bayburt and Of, winding 66 miles toward the Black Sea through some pretty dangerous terrain. This is not a road for the faint of heart. Some sections of the road are only one-lane and others are unpaved. In addition to the scary road conditions, poor weather often plays a role in making this drive even more hazardous than it already is. 

There are 29 switchbacks and the elevation at some points exceeds 6,500 feet. Did we mention there are no guardrails to prevent you from rolling over one of the sheer drops? One section, in particular, is really bad: in Caykara, the narrow road has 13 sharp turns and climbs from 5,616 feet to 6,767 feet in a span of about 3 miles. That’s a very windy, steep road, which definitely earns it a spot on this list as one of the world’s scariest drives.

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