10 Most Dangerous Roads in the World

Updated on February 20, 2018
Road of Death in Bolivia
Road of Death in Bolivia

Many People Die While Challenging These Deadly Highways

This list includes some, if not all, of the most dangerous roads in the world. Videos are provided for each road, many of which show travel over some of the roughest terrain on the planet. So, if you don’t get frightened easily, fasten your seatbelt and take a virtual ride. And, if you’ve actually traveled on any of these awesome avenues, please let the author know.

Now let’s begin the countdown.

Cathedral Ridge in Pakistan
Cathedral Ridge in Pakistan
Typical truck on the highway
Typical truck on the highway

10. Karakoram Highway (Pakistan to China)

Sometimes considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, because it was built as high as 15,000 feet above sea level and under very rough conditions, construction on the Karakoram Highway began in 1966 and was completed in 1979, although it wasn’t open to the public until 1986. This dangerous road covers more than 1,300 kilometers and, at least in some places, follows the old Silk Road. Cutting through the most mountainous region in the world, the Karakoram Highway is beset with hazards: rock falls, landslides, avalanches, flooding, snow drifts, reckless drivers, herds of animals, precipitous cliffs and terrible storms. Interestingly, the road meanders though the Hunza Valley, the scene of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, a novel about the mythical Shangri-La, a harmonious place where people live for centuries.

Logging truck
Logging truck

9. Logging Road (Europe)

The author doesn’t know where this road is located, perhaps somewhere in Europe; nevertheless, it must be one of the most dangerous roads in existence. Of course, there are many other logging roads throughout the world, many of which are not paved, while others are little more than animal trails. At any rate, if traveling on this road is any indication of what this work entails, then men and women who drive logging trucks deserve pay for hazardous work – that’s for certain!

Pan American Highway in Chile
Pan American Highway in Chile
Pan American Highway in the Atacama Desert
Pan American Highway in the Atacama Desert

8. Pan American Highway (Alaska to Chile)

The Pan American Highway (PAH) is not entirely dangerous, that is, it’s probably no worse than your average American highway. But in some places, you risk your freedom and even your life by using the PAH as a means of travel. Certainly a dangerous section of the PAH winds through Mexico and Central America, where drug cartel terrorists roam.

And in the Panamanian section of the road, you could encounter FARC rebels, who often take captives and hold them for ransom, sometimes for years, while others never escape their makeshift jungle prisons. Anyway, the PAH is 30,000 miles long and the only broken section of the road is the 60-mile Darién Gap, between Panama and Colombia, where the FARC are even worse. Let’s hope they never complete the highway through there!

Sichaun-Tibet Highway
Sichaun-Tibet Highway

7. Sichaun-Tibet Highway (China)

This very long highway – 2,028 kilometers in length – connects Chengdu in Sichaun with Lhasa in Tibet, through an area known as Kham. Continuously beset with rockslides and avalanches, the Sichaun-Tibet Highway is a treacherous, switchback-laden highway that winds among towering peaks, some of which over 6,000 meters in elevation, often causing vomit-spewing altitude sickness in travelers.

Along the way, numerous Buddhist monasteries, red-robed Buddhists and herds of yaks can be seen. The road was built between 1950 and 1954 and since then many thousands of people per year have died while traveling on the Sichaun-Tibet Highway.

James Dalton Highway
James Dalton Highway

6. James Dalton Highway (Alaska)

Also known as the North Slope Hall Road, the James Dalton Highway is a road used by truckers, especially those who travel to and from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields on the north slope of Alaska. In fact, the road supports the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

The Highway is 414 miles long, paved in places, but about three-fourths of it is not. There are no medical facilities along the road, though three towns exist along the way. It’s advised that anyone traveling the road should bring survival gear. Interestingly, the TV reality show, Ice Road Truckers, has many episodes dramatizing the rigors of traveling on this deadly, primitive road.

July on the Siberian Road to Yakutsk
July on the Siberian Road to Yakutsk

5. Siberian Road to Yakutsk (Russia)

Travel through Siberia is always a challenge. Nicknamed the “Road of Bones,” the Siberian Road to Yakutsk meanders its way through one of the coldest regions in the world. (The town of Yakutsk is constructed on permafrost.) The road is mostly unpaved (particularly in the north) and is about 760 miles long.

The preferred time to travel on the road is winter, when the ground and water are frozen, making travel somewhat easier. But during July and August, when it tends to rain a lot, the road becomes a monstrous quagmire, leading to traffic jams miles long. Only the most rugged 4X4 vehicles can manage this muddy beast. To make matters even worse, people get so bored during these traffic jams, they’ve been known to rob each other!

Guoliang Tunnel Road
Guoliang Tunnel Road

4. Guoliang Tunnel Road (China)

When the Chinese government decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and expense to make a road that would be used by only 300 villagers, 13 of those villagers decided to build a .8-mile tunnel through the solid rock of a vertical cliff. Located in the Taihang Mountains in the province of Henan, the villagers used explosives to blow their way through this vertiginous cliff. Lacking road-building experience, some villagers died in accidents.

The tunnel is 15 feet high and 12 feet wide, barely wide enough for two cars. Taking five years to build, the road was opened to traffic in 1977. Beware: This road is particularly dangerous when it rains! Interestingly, at least two other cliff tunnel roads have been constructed in this area of China.

Zoji Pass
Zoji Pass

3. Zoji Pass (India)

Just about any road that winds through the highest mountain range in the world would probably be at least somewhat dangerous for travel. The Zoji Pass certainly qualifies in this regard, since it’s a dirt road with no guardrails or traffic signs and where landslides are a continual problem. Moreover, the road zigzags among craggy peaks at over 11,000 feet at its highest elevation.

Connecting the towns of Srinagar and Leh in the western Himalayan mountain range (Indian Kashmir), Zoji Pass is generally closed during the winter, when 50-foot snowdrifts make it impassable. Mercifully for drivers on the road, Zoji Pass is only about 9 kilometers long. By the way, it was originally built in 1947 and first used for military purposes.

North Yungas Road
North Yungas Road

2. North Yungas Road (Bolivia)

You wouldn’t want to travel on any road nicknamed “The Road of Death,” so stay away from this one! Leading from La Paz to Coroico, the Road of Death is 40 miles of one-lane road, featuring vertical drops of as much as 3,000 feet into the Amazon rainforest below. Astonishingly, the road has over 200 hairpin turns.

As of 2006, 200 to 300 travelers per year died on the road. Along the way, numerous makeshift memorials can be seen in places where hapless folks plunged over a precipice and went crashing down into a jungle ravine. Fortunately, the worst part of the road has been bypassed by a two-lane paved road, so vehicle traffic on the road has diminished. But cyclists still challenge the Road of Death, some dying in the process. Incidentally, the South Yungas Road to Cochabamba is considered almost as dangerous.

Fairy Meadows Road
Fairy Meadows Road

1. Fairy Meadows Road (Pakistan)

The Fairy Meadows Road is only for people who love to drive in the mountains and have nerves of steel. Open only during the summer months, this rocky, gravelly road is about 16 kilometers long. A six-mile stretch of it is particularly hazardous. The road was built hundreds of years ago by villagers on Nanga Parbat Mountain and has not been repaired over the decades.

Only wide enough for one jeep at a time and having no guardrails, the road is terrifyingly unstable in places. One false move by a driver could send a vehicle down a vertical cliff for hundreds of meters. This road is so frightening, it’s hard to watch videos of people driving over it. If your bucket list has this one on it, make sure it’s your last challenge!

Please leave a comment.

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Kelley Marks

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      • profile image

        Victor 

        2 weeks ago

        This is incredibly dangerous.

      • Amanullah Jatoi profile image

        Amanullah Jatoi 

        3 weeks ago from Saudi Arabia

        Very informative knowledge

      • profile image

        2 months ago

        WOW!!! OMG!!!!

      • profile image

        A.Mustafa 

        3 months ago

        Fairy Meadows obviously tops this list..i visited this area just few weeks ago, it was very dangerous and extremely beautiful piece of nature.

      • profile image

        Tebogo Dapa 

        5 months ago

        The truck we were travelling on fell from a hazardous meandering gravel mountain single lane road +- 250m down the road. The truck passed a river at the bottom. It was in 1983 october 30th cold night 20h32 LESOTHO from Mokhotlong to Maseru. We ascended up the slopy ground sat on the other side of the road and cried. No help, nothing at all until in the morning. Looking at all these roads interests me but i wouldnt try travel on them ,i can just die. LESOTHO ROADS ARE ALSO A BIT SCARY .

      • profile image

        Zivkovic 

        7 months ago

        My worst experiance were roads in Ukraina (between Kerets'ky Керецьки and Lypcha Липча) because no gasoline station, no service but holes on road was like after bombing (cca. half meter holes everywhere).

        Also in East Latvia drove 50km on road without asphalt with a lot of stoones and dust. Terrible.

        Third dangerious road were in willages in Montenegro and Bosina & Herzegovina, but it was 15-20 years ago, now there is repaired and more wide roads.

        My experiance with Russian roads was not bad as other people announce but I was in european part of Russia which were main roads are in good condition even better than most roads in EU.

        If dont beleive see one of my videos from Russian roads

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x67gQIqKoM

        or

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4pFJL3ymC4

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        18 months ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Spanish Food, I'll have to check out that road you write about in South Africa. Later!

      • Spanish Food profile image

        Lena Durante 

        18 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

        Fascinating. I've been on a road somewhat similar to the Guoliang Tunnel Road, from the pictures, but it wasn't quite as enclosed. It's called Chapman Peak Drive in Cape Town, South Africa, and it's often closed because of the rock slides. I was lucky enough to be there when it wasn't, and it was truly spectacular!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Yes, Paul Edmondson, the Fairy Meadows Road tops this list, and you can see why - just watching the video is terrifying! Later!

      • Paul Edmondson profile image

        Paul Edmondson 

        3 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        That last road is insane.

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Amanda108. These roads are truly terrifying. I would drive on a few of them - but not all of them. Later!

      • Amanda108 profile image

        Amanda 

        3 years ago from Michigan, United States

        This reveals how much of a big chicken I am, but just looking at these photos and watching the videos gave me an adrenaline rush! To actually be forced down those roads would induce true terror. My heart goes out to those who have no choice but to do so for some reason in their lives. Very interesting hub!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Hey, DrMark1961, there are many videos for traveling in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. I'm still trying to find one showing travel on a dangerous road in that area. If I find one, I'll probably tack it onto this story. Later!

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        No, I really wish I had taken a video though. Once we reached the village we had to travel by mule to reach the high pasture--the "road" up the sides of the mountains was usually only a foot across in some places.

        I was working, and although I lived there 7 years the Ministry never gave me permission to go up there again, in spite of the numerous diseases the shepherds face.

        (If you cannot find a video of this road, there is another up to Imilchil that is similar, although travelled by many tourists each year.)

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, DrMark1961. It appears you experienced some great adventure on that trip to Morocco. Did you bring back some video of your trip? I'd love to see it. Anyway, I'll check out YouTube and search for videos of this remote area. Later!

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        I travelled a road in Morocco´s High Altas Mountains, from Toundout to Tamsrit (Ouarzazate province). A car goes down it every 5 years or so-there was a lot of stopping to pick up rocks, even on the hundreds of switchbacks, and numerous times our Land Rover rolled in the gravel and almost slipped off of the edge.

        It was NOT the road of death, though, since almost no one dares use it, except with a mule. (The kids there called our Land Rover "hadeed", which means metal, since there is no word for car.)

        And, I am alive to recommend it be added to your list!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, John Albu. Videos of these terrifying roads are exciting to watch, but I wouldn't dare drive on any of them. Well, maybe I would try one or two but not the worst of the bunch. Later!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, DrMark1961. I tried to make this list as accurate as possible, and if I find a road that belongs here, I'll probably add it to the list. Later!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        3 years ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Torrilynn. These are truly some horrifying roads, don't you think?

      • John Albu profile image

        John Albu 

        3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102

        Wow, I got a vertigo only from looking at some of these pictures. Scary yet mesmerizing places, at the same time.

        I would like to visit the one in China, to be honest. Looks so interesting. The one in Russia seems to be the most brutal!

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        I am not sure I agree with all of these, but since I am alive to write this I think I could be wrong! Interesting choices.

      • torrilynn profile image

        torrilynn 

        3 years ago

        I've seen the discovery channel show the different dangerous roads before and they look terrifying. This was very interesting.

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