The Most Dangerous Roads in the World

a collage of dangerous winding roads throughout the world

In the U.S., we are somewhat spoiled by our interstate system. It’s large, sweeping, and (even though we complain about underfunded infrastructure) still in great shape when it comparing it to the majority of the world. That makes sense. Car culture was born here, and there aren’t many other places where a “road trip” can mean getting in your car and heading from coast to coast.

Some countries have challenging geographical features that make building roads impractical. Why can’t you get in a car and drive from Canada down to Argentina or Chile in the car even though North and South America are connected? Well, there’s this really thick impenetrable rain forest that is cost-prohibitive. That goes for much of western Brazil, as well. The Amazonian Basin is just too thick to cut through and the upkeep would be astronomical. Nepal is nestled high in the Himalayas. Would you like to try to build a road through those? No thank you!

In America, we also have certain safety codes that need to be met in order for construction to go ahead and for the general public to begin using the road. In other countries around the globe, sometimes these safety codes just aren’t at the same level, if they exist at all. Nevertheless, people still traverse these dangerous pathways. Here are some of the most frightening to be found.

1. Atlantic Ocean Road (Norway)

a wave crashes into the atlantic ocean road in norway

The Atlantic Ocean Road connects many of the small islands off Norway’s western coast that sit at the entrances to its many fjords. Besides this distinctive bridge, drivers must watch out for wild North Atlantic weather conditions. Large waves frequently crash into the bridge and onto the roadway.

(image via Facebook)

2. Canning Stock Route (Australia)

the dirt path of the canning stock route in australia

To the call the Canning Stock Route a road is more than an overstatement. It’s really a 1,150-mile dirt path carved into Western Australia. That’s about the length of driving from NYC to Kansas City. It isn’t maintained and is only recommended for 4×4 vehicles. There are also no water, fuel, or services along the route. Drive at your own risk!

(image via Facebook)

3. Caucasus Road (Georgia)

a view of the caucasus road in georgia from the air

The Tusheti region in the northwest of the country of Georgia is remote, and the only road to the village of Omala is full of switchbacks cutting across the mountains’ faces. There are no guardrails, of course, and avalanches are common, especially in winter.

(image via Facebook)

4. Zoji La Pass (India)

the snow covered zoji la pass in india

The Zoji La mountain pass is in the Western Himalayas. At an elevation of over 11,000 feet above sea level, the pass has to close during the winter months because snow eventually makes the route impassable. Avalanches are also a consistent worry throughout the year. A new tunnel being built through the mountain should help things considerably.

(image via Facebook)

5. Guoliang Tunnel Road (China)

a view of the guoliang tunnel road in china

A group of villagers raised money to connect their remote village of Guoliang to the rest of China beyond the Taihang Mountains. Constructed mostly by hammers and chisels, it is three-quarters of a mile long and 16 feet tall. It weaves its way along the mountainside, going in and out of tunnels with “window” cutouts, and features few railings along the sides of the road.

(image via Pinterest)

6. James Dalton Highway (Alaska)

a barren snowy scene along the james dalton highway in alaska

Even some American roads are dangerously remote! You may recognize the James Dalton Highway (or Alaska Route 11) from the tv series Ice Road Truckers. The majority of the road is basically gravel, and there are few places to refuel along the way. There are no medical facilities along the route. It is prone to dangerous winter conditions and flooding, as well.

(image via Facebook)

7. Hana Highway (Hawai’i)

a view of the hana highway in hawaii from the air

The Road to Hana isn’t in poor condition. But because it’s embedded into the side of the Hawaiian mountainside, it has many twists and hairpin turns—over 600 of them! It’s also narrow with steep drop-offs into the ocean and multiple single-lane bridges.

(image via Facebook)

8. Vitim River Bridge (Russia)

a view of the vitim river bridge over the frozen river in russia

Does this look like a working bridge to you? It’s actually an old train bridge that was decommissioned. Wooden planks were then put on top to allow cars to use it as a bridge. However, the wood is now rotting and worn. There are no guardrails either. In winter, it’s easy to slip on the icy surface and plunge into the ice. In summer, the rushing river rises up to the wooden planks so that you’re barely afloat.

(image via Facebook)

9. Commonwealth Avenue (Philippines)

hundreds of people walk along the congested commonwealth avenue in the philippines

Commonwealth Avenue isn’t dangerous because of poor condition or steep cliffs. It’s one of the most congested roads in the world. Even though it is a road for vehicles, it has a large number of pedestrians and cyclists on its 18 lanes. In fact, it has some of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities. Many estimates say 7,000 people die annually along the road, often called “Killer Highway.”

(image via Facebook)

10. Karnali Highway (Nepal)

vehicles travel under large rocks along the karnali highway in india

The Karnali Highway provides goods and services to some of the most remote portions of the country. But heavy monsoon rains often cause landslides that make the road impassable. Only around 7.5% of the entire length of the highway is actually paved in blacktop. In 2010, monsoon rains closed the road for 3 months, making 1/3 of the entire country inaccessible by ground.

(image via Facebook)

11. Karakoram Highway (Pakistan/China)

a avalanche on the karakoram highway on the border of pakistan and china

The Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan and China is one of the world’s dangerous because it is also one of the world’s highest paved roads. Avalanches often destroy entire sections, and it is a narrow path to traverse. Many areas only have stone mounds as railing. Thankfully, this bus was caught, and all passengers were able to escape unharmed.

(image via Facebook)

12. Kabul-Jalalabad Highway (Afghanistan)

a river dam alongside the kabul jalalabad highway in afghanistan

The Kabul-Jalalabad Highway is another steep mountain pass with many hairpin turns that may make passengers nervous. Because it is narrow, and in poor condition in some sections, traffic jams can often form. This is not a place you want to be stuck.

(image via Facebook)

13. Killar to Pangi Road (India)

an suv travels along the gravel road of the killar to pangi road in india

The Pangi Valley is a remote tribal region that can often be cut off from the rest of India during the snowy winter months. This road is barely one lane and is mostly dirt and rocks. It was dynamited into the mountainside. The steep and slippery conditions can make the 32-mile journey last hours.

(image via Facebook)

14. Kolyma Highway (Russia)

a motorcycle is parked on the shoulder of the dusty kolyma highway in russia

The Kolyma Highway is often called the “Road of Bones” not because so many people die on it but because it was built by gulag prisoners of Josef Stalin. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. It is in such a state of disrepair that the road is actually easier to drive on during the winter when it freezes (than the muddy wet summer months). But white-out conditions make it difficult to see what’s ahead.

(image via Facebook)

15. Apache Trail Scenic Drive (Arizona)

heavy duty machinery repaves the apache trail scenic drive in arizona

The Apache Trail covers some amazing scenery, but you better keep your eye on the road. This loop is narrow and some of the guardrails don’t look like they would keep you on the road. It’s not recommended for larger vehicles like RVs or even some SUVs.

(image via Facebook)

16. Le Passage du Gois (France)

low tide at the le passage du gois in france

No, this road doesn’t lead straight into the ocean. At least, not at low tide, it doesn’t. When the tide comes in, however, the road does become impassable with waves lapping over the surface of the roadway. Even at low tide, things can still be dangerous with water or mud (or even other debris) covering the road.

(image via Facebook)

17. Luxor-al-Hurghada Road (Egypt)

the luxor al hurghada road in egypt stretches into the desert

The Luxor-al-Hurghada Road travels through the Egyptian desert, which seems dangerous enough (especially if you break down or have an emergency). Head-on collisions are numerous, and therefore, fatalities are more prominent. Egyptians also have a tendency not to drive with their lights on—even in the dark! There are also reports of numerous bandits on the route.

(image via Facebook)

18. Nanga Parbat Pass (Pakistan)

an suv attempts to make its way along the narrow gravel road of the nanga parbat pass in pakistan

The ninth-highest mountain in the world seems like a great place for a road, doesn’t it? In actuality, this is mostly just a dirt path barely wide enough for one vehicle to edge along the side of a mountain. If someone is coming you’re way, good luck turning around! It actually connects to the Karakoram Highway which is also on this list and dangerous in its own right.

(image via Pinterest)

19. Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road (Greece)

the windy mountain pathway of the patiopoulo perdikaki road in greece

The twists and turns of Patiopoulo-Perdikaki make the steep grade easier to handle for drivers. However, the blind hairpin turns aren’t great for visibility. And when the road is wet and slippery, it’s really best just to just stay away.

(image via Facebook)

20. Cotopaxi Volcano Road (Ecuador)

a volcano alongside the cotopaxi volcano road in ecuador

The Cotopaxi Volcano Road may look relatively safe and unchallenging, but with that active volcano in the vicinity, the roads need constant upkeep. See all that snow at the peak of the cone? Flash floods are common in the area which also destroy the roadway, and some sections are just gravel crossing a running stream. Bridge-less stream crossing sounds super safe.

(image via Facebook)

21. Sichuan-Tibet Highway (China)

the twists and turns of the sichuan tibet highway in china

The Sichuan-Tibet Highway has the twisting and turning mountain roads common to other dangerous highways on this list. Landslides and avalanches are also common. And please don’t take your eyes off the road to try and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It’s just not worth the risk.

(image via Facebook)

22. Skippers Canyon Road (New Zealand)

an off road vehicle manages to stay on the skippers canyon road with no guardrail

Carved by hand by miners, Skippers Canyon Road is 16.5 miles of dirt and gravel that is barely the width of your car. With no guardrails, it’s easy to slide down the side of the mountain in a jiffy. Kiwis love their adventure sports, but driving this roadway is just too extreme for us.

(image via Facebook)

23. Federal Highway 5 (Mexico)

a dangerous dip in the federal highway 5 in mexico

The conditions along Federal Highway 5 aren’t great, and portions of the road are in disrepair. Some areas have sunken into the sandy earth creating large dips that are detrimental to any car’s structure. One is so bad, in fact, that it is literally named “Oh Sh*t Dip” and is so labeled on the roadway itself. Please don’t try to ramp these slopes!

(image via Wikipedia)

24. Stelvio Pass (Italy)

the stelvio pass in italy winds up the mountain side

The Stelvio Pass looks like it may be better suited as a pathway for skiers. It has numerous hairpin twists and turns down the mountainside. The most dangerous part of the road may be that it is a popular route for cyclists. Share the road carefully!

(image via Facebook)

25. Taroko Gorge Road (Taiwan)

the tunnels of the taroko gorge road in taiwan

This narrow road is in a narrow gorge alongside a river. Portions of the pathway are under mountain overhangs, and the risk of falling rocks is considerable. Storms also cause flooding along the roadway leading to dangerous driving conditions for cars trying to pass each other. There aren’t two lanes, just certain specific sections where you can wait for someone to pass.

(image via Facebook)

26. Tianmen Mountain 99-Bend Road (China)

the tianmen mountain 99 bend road winds around itself

So named for its 99 turns, this road in China twists so much it even goes under itself as you can see in the picture. Some sections are at a 37-degree grade. For comparison, Filbert Sreet and Lombard Street in San Francisco are 31.5 and 22 degrees, respectively.

(image via Facebook)

27. Tizi-n-Test (Morocco)

tizi n test in morocco cuts into the mountain side

This mountain pass is over 6,500 feet above sea level. The dry rocky terrain is prone to rock slides, and the narrow road is shared by small cars and large trucks alike. The views from the top are incredible, but keep your eyes on the road as you make your way up. Many sections lack barriers.

(image via Pinterest)

28. Trans-Siberian Highway (Russia)

a dangerous winter scene along the trans siberian highway in russia

The Trans-Siberian Highway has some of the same problems as the James Dalton Highway in Alaska (also on this list). It goes through desolate areas where there is no help or respite for motorists. Be sure and fuel up ahead of time! And in winter, the roads become even more dangerous and visibility drops to essentially nothing.

(image via Facebook)

29. The A44 (Wales)

a snowy night along the a44 in wales

The A44 isn’t a particularly long stretch of road in Wales, but it has come to be known as one of the most fatal roads in all the United Kingdom. Fatalities are so high because of the large number of head-on collisions, thanks to the high number of blind turns along this windy country road.

(image via Facebook)

30. Yungas Road (Bolivia)

bikers travel along the yungas road in bolivia

The Yungas Road in Bolivia is probably the most dangerous road in the world. It’s known as “The Road of Death,” even by locals. It winds up the side of a mountain on nothing but a gravel road barely big enough for one car. Even so, many large buses make the route every day up and down the path. It’s all too common to read of a bus that slipped off the edge without guardrails. Cyclists also frequent the pathway, making it dangerous for them and drivers.

(image via Facebook)

Fortunately, if you don’t travel outside the country much, you won’t likely encounter any of the roads mentioned above. But what about in the United States? For a list of the most dangerous roads in each state, check out this guide.