Ken has been fascinated by cars and drawn to the blue skies and open roads of adventure since he got his first car at age 18.
31 Amazing Roads and Bridges of the World
In 1958, when I was 18, I bought a 1951 MGTD with a very Scottish plaid top. To say that I loved the car wouldn't really convey the bond between kid and machine. I lived in "Maggie," as I affectionately called her, and drove her nearly 150,000 miles in less than two years. Maggie had three engines: one under the hood, one in the shop waiting for a rebuild, and one rebuilt and ready to roar.
I worked the night shift at Lockheed (LMSD) in the Santa Clara Valley. When most folks get off work, they go home. When I got off work, I drove to places like LA (nearly 500 miles to the south), often down California's Highway 1, surely one of the world's most dangerous and amazing roads... particularly when you drive it at breakneck speeds (Maggie's top speed was just under 80 mph) with your headlights off.
You're beginning to get the idea, right? When I wasn't working or asleep, I was snuggled down in Maggie, heading somewhere, anywhere, hellbent for leather. I kept a 5-gallon "jerry can" and a funnel behind the seat so my navigator could top up the gas tank. I hated having to stop for gas!
The roads in the foothills around the Santa Clara Valley were made for maniacal drivers—narrow, twisting, challenging, and dangerous roads without the prying eyes of the county sheriff's office or the California Highway Patrol interfering with one's right foot. I loved racing through the Redwood forests, top down, with the sound of the exhaust echoing between the hills. Such was the impact of these experiences that I miss them even today, nearly 60 years later.
Had I been a millionaire, I would have doubtless devoted my fortune to finding amazing and dangerous roads like the ones depicted here. And, as I used to tell my friends in jest, I would probably be found one day in the wreckage of my Ferrari, with a bottle of wine in one hand and a pair of panties in the other, a silly grin on my face.
1. Bolivia: El Camino a los Yungas
Death Road (El Camino a los Yungas), from La Paz to Coroico, is 64 km in length. The Bolivian road seems well named, as it averages 96 deaths per year and is definitely not for the faint of heart.
This amazing road, which the Inter-American Development Bank christened as the world's most dangerous in 1995, was built by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War of the 1930s.
The "Death Road" has the title that attracts only the most daring (or stupid, depending upon how you look at them) of thrill-seekers. It's a 40-mile descent of more than 11,800 ft. That is 1/3 the height of Mt. Everest. News headlines regularly report buses plunging off this road with multiple deaths—which makes one wonder why anyone in their right mind would travel on this road in the first place.
2. Brazil: Estrada da Serra do Rio do Rastro
Estrada da Serra do Rio do Rastro (highway SC-438) in Lauro MÃ¼ller, Santa Catarina, Brazil. This road is characterized by steep climbs and hairpin bends, as the photos attest.
Driving on this road is an amazing adventure. The curves and steep Serra do Rio do Rastro in the municipality of Lauro Müller provoke fear and excitement. At night, the road is fully illuminated!
3. Chile: Estrada de los Caracoles
4. Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Inverter
A Dutch architectural firm proposed this figure-8-shaped bridge because people drive on opposite sides of the road in Hong Kong and mainland China.
In the former British colony of Hong Kong, people drive on the left-hand side of the road, as in the UK and Australia. In mainland China, people drive on the right-hand side of the road, as folks in the United States do.
5. China: Tian Men Shan Road
Tian Men Shan Road, Hunan province, China, is 10km from end to end. It rises to 1300m above sea level from a low point of 200 meters.
The road took eight years to finish (1998–2006). The scenery is spectacular, but if you devote too much time to looking at it, you'll soon find yourself hurtling down a mountainside. This is a frightening and dangerous road, and in my youth, Maggie and I would have loved it.
6. China: Guoliang Road-Tunnel
As the village of Guoliang was isolated in a valley, 13 residents have opened a tunnel in the rock on their own, using only picks.
The Guoliang Tunnel is carved along the side of, and through, a mountain in China. The tunnel is located in the Taihang Mountains which are situated in the Henan Province. Photos of the road are often misidentified as photos of the "Road of Death" in Bolivia.
Before the tunnel was constructed, access to the nearby Guoliang village was limited to a difficult path carved into the mountainside. The village is nestled in a valley surrounded by towering mountains cut off from civilization. In 1972, a group of villagers decided to carve a road into the side of the mountain. They raised money to purchase hammers and steel tools. Thirteen villagers began the project. The tunnel is 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) long, 5 metres (16 ft) tall and 4 metres (13 ft) wide. Some of the villagers died in accidents during construction. On 1 May 1977, the tunnel was opened to traffic. (Wikipedia)
7. China: Puxi Viaduct & Shanghai Intersection Spiral
The spiraling interchange leading to Nanpu Bridge is one of the world's largest. Although the most common type of interchange has four levels, this one has six. Its incredible construction makes it a marvel of Chinese engineering.
8. India: Leh-Manali Highway
India's Leh-Manali Highway is certainly one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It is also one of the most extraordinary, given that it crosses five Himalayan mountain passes, with two over 5,000 meters above sea level.
The Leh-Manali is located in northern India and connects Leh in Ladakh and Manali in Himachal Pradesh. It is only open for a few summer months when the Indian Army clears away the snow. By October, the snow closes the passes once again.
The highway was designed and built by the Indian Army's Border Roads Organisation, which is also responsible for maintaining it. It is no surprise to learn, then, that it is capable of supporting heavy military traffic.
These videos speak for themselves.
9. Paris to Barcelona: The Millau Viaduct
The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. Designed by the French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, it is the tallest bridge in the world. (Courtesy Wikipedia)
10. France: Col de Turini Pass
Col de Turini is a high mountain pass in the Alps. It is near Sospel, between the communes of Moulinet and La Bollène-Vésubie in the Arrondissement of Nice.
It is famous for a stage of the Monte Carlo Rally which is held on the tight road with its many hairpin turns. Until a few years ago, the Col De Turini was also driven at night, with thousands of fans watching the "Night of the Long Knives" as it was called, due to the strong high beam lights cutting through the night. (Wikipedia)
11. Italy: Stelvio Pass
From the Eastern Italian Alps, the Stelvio Pass Road connects the Valtellina with Merano and the upper Adige valley. This is the second-highest paved mountain road in the Alps and is situated at an altitude of around 2,757 meters. The Stelvio Pass is one of the best continuous hairpin routes in the world, and its fame came from the presence of 48 hairpin bends and the fact that the road becomes very narrow at some points and has a couple of very steep inclines. This road is regarded by many car enthusiasts as one of the most challenging roads in the world, and its scenery is absolutely spectacular.
12. Japan: Iroha-zaka Road
Iroha-zaka Road in Japan has 48 curves, and in each, there is a plaque with one of the 48 syllables of the Japanese Hiragana alphabet. During the autumn leaf season in October, traffic can be very heavy, and this Irohazaka winding road becomes particularly congested. If you're planning to visit the Lake Chuzenji (Chuzenjiko) area, try to visit during the week rather than on weekends.
13. Japan: Great Snow Wall Drive in Tateyama
The bus drives through snow wall between Bijodaira and Murodo in Tateyama, Japan. In April, the snow remover cars get the snow on the road off by using GPS with the accuracy of a centimeter. The snow wall was 15 meters high the year this video was taken, according to the videographer.
14. Japan: Hiyoshi Spring Spa Resort Bridge
This unique circular bridge was built in 1998. It is a part of the nearby Hiyoshi Spring spa resort. The pedestrian bridge is situated at the foot of the Hiyoshi Dam. It has a diameter of 80 meters. The bridge and the spa resort were designed by Norihiko Dan and Associates
15. Morocco: Garganta del Dades
This amazing road traverses the Dades Gorge, a deep ravine located in the High Atlas in the upper valley of the Dades river between the towns of Boumalne Dades and Msemrir.
16. Norway: The Atlantic Ocean Road
The Atlantic Ocean Road is a 8.3-kilometre (5.2 mi) long part of a road in MÃ¸re og Romsdal, Norway.
Located at the northern part of the coastal area of Hustadvika, it connects the villages on the Romsdal peninsula on the mainland. The road is one alternative connecting the towns of Kristiansund and Molde via the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel. The inland connection between those two cities is the Krifast bridge/tunnel system, which includes five bridges. Storseisundet Bridge is one of them.
17. Norway: Storseisundet Bridge, Atlanterhavsveien
18. Norway: Trollstigen Mountain Road
Trollstigen, in the heart of Romsdal, is one of the most visited attractions in Norway. The mountains, which encircle the Trollstigen road, are enormous. The road has a steep incline of nine percent and consists of 11 hairpin bends up a steep mountainside. Encircling the road are high mountains, named Kongen, Dronningen and Bispen (King, Queen & Bishop).
19. Norway: Lysebotn Road (Lysebotnvegen)
The Lysebotnvegen Road links Lysefjord to Sirdal. It is only open for about five months of the year and travels over the mountains of Rogaland and Vest Agder in Norway. It includes 27 hairpin turns up a fjord wall and is 29 km (18 mi.) long. The road was opened in 1984, and has its highest point 932 m. (3057 ft.) above sea level.
20. Romania: Transfagarasan
The Transfagarasan is the highest and most dramatic paved road from Romania. Built as a military route by former dictator Ceausescu between 1970 and 1974, the road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Pitesti. The Transfagarasan features 90 km of twists and turns, North to South across the tallest sections of the Carpathian Mountains between their highest peaks.
On top of the mountains this road provides access to Balea Lake, a glacier lake which has existed for thousands of years. There is also a tunnel that's almost a kilometer long tunnel straight through the mountain!
The north end of the road is the most spectacular. Dotted as it is with steep hairpin turns, sweeping S curves and sharp descents combined with an a stunning view, Between October and June this road is usually closed due to snow.
Top Gear considers this the best road in the world—with good reason.
21. South Africa: The Cape Whale Coast Route
The Cape Whale Coast Route, opened recently, is an excellent option for driving fanatics. It connects Gordon's Bay to coastal towns, and the route offers something for people of all ages, especially those who enjoy whale watching and testing the limits of automotive engineering.
Warning: Drive carefully, or your Ferrari may go swimming!
22. Russia: The Siberian Road to Yakutsk, Sakha Republic
This is the Siberian Road to Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world, which has a hardy population of 200,000 people.
According to Wikipedia, "the coldest temperatures ever recorded on the planet outside Antarctica occurred in the basin of the Yana River to the northeast of Yakutsk."
23. Switzerland: Oberalp Pass
The Oberalp Pass is an incredible road in the high Swiss mountains that's an important link between Central Switzerland and the Graubunden Oberland. The road is really popular for all drivers from Europe but it's only open during summer months. In winter, this pass is closed for road traffic, and the road itself is used as a ski slope, toboggan run and hiking trail!
The Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahnrailway line runs year round and provides a limited shuttle for cars in winter as well (reservation required). The closure depends on snowfall and so varies.
24. Switzerland: San Bernardino Pass
The San Bernardino Pass is an Alpine treat for motorsport aficionados, connecting the Hinterrhein and the Mesolcina (Misox) valleys and running past Lake Moesola while climbing to a lofty 6775 feet. The road is closed during the winter, so plan your Swiss driving vacation carefully.
From a mule track in the 15th century to the modern highway of today, the San Bernardino Pass provides mute testimony to man's determination to overcome his environment.
22. Taiwan: Taroko Gorge Road
The Taroko Gorge Road is an extremely narrow path with enough twists and turns to make a Ferrari aficionado weep in agony, for there are, alas, pedestrians, scooters, cars and massive tour buses, all demanding their due. All of this, of course, makes for one adrenaline-pumping driving challenge denied. Damned shame, that.
The Taroko Mountain peaks at nearly 3,300 metres, and the winding road that snakes through its Gorge is mind-boggling in both its threat to life and limb and its beauty. Tunnels are cut straight out of raw rock walls, leaving only small blocks to prevent your car from heading over the edge... and there's all those selfish other people demanding their share of the pavement.
25. USA: Highway 163
Highway 163, looking south from about 13 miles north of the Arizona-Utah State line, heading towards Monument Valley, one of the most majestic—and most photographed—points on earth.
26. USA: The James W. Dalton Highway
The James W. Dalton Highway, usually Dalton Highway (Alaska Route 11) is a 414-mile (667 km) road in Alaska. It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.
Once called the North Slope Haul Road (a name by which it is still sometimes known), it was built as a supply road to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in 1974. It is named for James Dalton, a lifelong Alaskan and an engineer who supervised construction of the Distant Early Warning Line in Alaska and, as an expert in Arctic engineering, served as consultant in early oil exploration in northern Alaska.
27. USA: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel project is a four-lane, 20-mile-long vehicular toll crossing of the lower bay.
According to the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel website, following its opening on April 15, 1964, the Bridge-Tunnel was selected "One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World" in a worldwide competition that included more than 100 major projects. In addition, in 1965, it was distinguished as "The Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement" by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
28. USA: Judge Harry Pregerson Intersection, Los Angeles, California
29. USA: Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, California
Bear Creek Road, 12 miles end to end (six miles up, six miles down), can be found in the south foothills of the Santa Clara Valley. The video below begins on the Santa Clara Valley side, clubs the mountain and descends to the San Lorenzo Valley Side in a little over nine minutes. My brother held the record for driving Bear Creek Road end to end in a full race Austin Healy Sprite: 12 minutes. I managed to get close several times in another full race Sprite, but never quite hit 12 seconds flat.
30. USA: Highway 17, South Carolina
Driving this stretch of highway at speed could lead to some flying time—not to mention a queasy tummy!
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the New Cooper River Bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The eight-lane bridge satisfied the capacity of U.S. Route 17 when it opened in 2005 to replace two obsolete cantilever truss bridges.
31. USA: Lombard Street, San Francisco, California
Lombard Street is one of America's most crooked streets. The steep, hilly street was created with sharp curves to switchback down the one-way hill past beautiful Victorian mansions. If not for the curves, the road would be an invitation to automotive mayhem.
The portion of Lombard Street that everyone knows from the postcards is a section that has been dubbed "the crookedest street in the world." This refers to the windy switchbacks of road that grace the block between Hyde and Jones. The curvy nature of the one-way drive along with the steep slope of these blocks makes for a fun ride that's also a visual treat. In total there are eight tight turns in a single block.
Strangely, Lombard is not the crookedest street in San Francisco. That honor belongs to Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd streets in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. Though somewhat curvier than Lombard, Vermont Street lacks the fame and visual beauty of Lombard Street.
There used to be a lot of streets like this in San Francisco, built primarily in the 1800s. Why? Imagine a horse drawn carriage going up or down a hill this steep? The curves allowed a much easier and controlled ascent or descent. This stretch of Lombard Street, along with Vermont, is one of the few which remain.
Do you yearn for the open road? Have you discovered magic roads that test your driving skill? Take a moment and tell me about them—I'm always watching for great additions to this collection!
What do you think? - Drop me a line!
Carole on October 07, 2016:
The photo that says Hwy 17 in South Carolina is not in SC. It is a real road though. It's called roller coaster highway in Tulsa Oklahoma. Just a bit off of old Route 66. Called County Road NSFW 366.
Diane R on September 16, 2016:
For the love of God...remove that one in South Carolina. Hwy 17 is flat. I drive it every day. That photo was NEVER on Wikipedia. It's a known Photoshop pic. First rule of journalism: FACT CHECK.
jim on August 06, 2016:
go south of Yazoo City, Mississippi, maybe Hwy 49 or 55. Looks similar to your SC road pic, but the hills are about 3 or 4 times more pronounced with kudzu gullies all along both sides.
April on June 17, 2015:
This hilly road looks more like Screaming Eagle Road, in the middle of SC (also known as the "Sandhill," or "Piedmont," region). Hwy 17, which is along the coast, is flat.
brad Ferguson on February 09, 2015:
I'm not sure where that picture is but it's not highway 17 in South Carolina. I've driven every inch of it many times and it's dead flat passing through what's called the Low Country which is basically one large tidal marsh. The bridge is correct however and it's the highest point for miles.
harley66 on July 07, 2014:
Some pictures appear as if they are fake. Really nice lens. The pictures are amazing.
Doc_Holliday on October 27, 2013:
Some of these roads are really hair-raising. Awesome !!
dbitterman on August 09, 2013:
I couldn't get a feel for how many of these roads you may have traveled...but here's to hoping quite a few are under your belt or in your future, as you sound like the type that would enjoy them all! Great lens.
Gardener Don on February 22, 2013:
I was raised in New Zealand & thought we had some scary roads there, but man you opened my eyes here!
Dee Gallemore on February 14, 2013:
Jaw-dropping . . . Outstanding!
CoolFool83 on January 31, 2013:
Norway has some very interesting roads! Really, really cool lense.
knitstricken on January 14, 2013:
Oh my! I think I might have nightmares about some of these never-before-seen by me roads! Thanks for photos! I'll leave the actual traveling to more adventurous travelers such as yourself! Have a great day!
Jackie Jackson from Fort Lauderdale on January 13, 2013:
What a great lens! You might enjoy mine about Petrol in My Blood.
Stephanie from Canada on January 05, 2013:
These are some insane roads! I saw a few in New Zealand that were pretty crazy becaue of all the twists, but those were nothing compared to the first half of this page. Some of them are downright scary.
tomoxby on October 31, 2012:
Really interesting collection of pictures, the only one I had seen before is the famous bridge in southern France. Whether cycling or driving I really would not want to tackle any of them.
anonymous on October 22, 2012:
How about the PCH through Big Surr in California or the overseas Highway in the Florida Keys?
BillyPilgrim LM on August 22, 2012:
Some great photos and information - makes me wanna go and drive now!x
Deadicated LM on May 14, 2012:
Unfortunately I never did get a drivers license (and I'm sure the people on the sidewalks of NYC are grateful for it); I really love this Lens and enjoyed your intro, you sound like a fun guy (I too worked the overnight, it's a strange topsy turvy world).
anonymous on May 07, 2012:
awesome lens. love it
anonymous on May 03, 2012:
Great informations! I was on transfagarasan in Romania. Is a great road!
JoshK47 on April 04, 2012:
Popping back in to bless this awesome lens! Love these photos, too!
WriterJanis2 on April 03, 2012:
Your photos are amazing. Blessed!
troybreimon lm on March 24, 2012:
Where I live in Duluth we have a bunch of roads tha turn all over the place. this was an awesome lens kmcvay ;)
missroxa lm on March 23, 2012:
WOW! I did the Transfagarasan from Romania, and it was fabulous, but here I can see more wonderful roads that definitely are on my list! Great job! Thank you for helping me make a list of my future journeys! Congrats!
AlexTedford on March 12, 2012:
Wow! Super cool lens.
TTMall on March 10, 2012:
Another great lens from a great lensmaster. Keep up the great work.
Jadimon LM on March 03, 2012:
Wow! This lens obviously took a long time to make! I have been on some of the roads you speak of in Cali. That bridge in France is amazing! Thanks for setting such a great example of how thorough a lens can be!
TravelingRae on February 27, 2012:
Canada's Sea to Sky highway belongs on this page. It has hairpin turns and 14% grades and is not for the faint of heart! :::blessed:::
poppy mercer from London on February 17, 2012:
just wanted to get in my car and go.
andreablogger on February 12, 2012:
That's a very interesting lens!
skefflingecho from Tobermory Ontario on February 10, 2012:
Absolutely Amazing Lens. Beautiful images, great commentary and stories. Blessed!
Classic LM on February 08, 2012:
Amazing roads. Thanks for the fun!
MelonyVaughan on February 07, 2012:
What a wonderful and well-researched lens! I'm not so sure that I would want to go down some of these roads though...Pretty scary!
golfspice on January 27, 2012:
Some scary roads here! - Having worked in road construction/repair for many years and driven a few dodgy ones in my time, I found your lens interesting. Check out the Amalfi Drive between Amalfi and Sorrento in Italy. It's not particularly scary, but great fun in places, with a screech from your tyres around the hairpin bends.
lyttlehalfpint from Canada on January 26, 2012:
Fabulous lens, Loved it ... well researched and presented, a fun ride without leaving my chair.
anonymous on January 26, 2012:
Whew, what a road trip, my heart started beating faster almost right away and never slowed the race...I guess the brain thought it was really on these roads! Magnificently done and thank you for sharing your love story with Maggie! You have a wonderful style of writing that draws one along....blessed!
kathysart on January 13, 2012:
Wow.. I feel dizzy after seeing all those crazy roads! lol Angel blessed lens, loved it!!
anonymous on January 11, 2012:
fullofshoes on January 06, 2012:
Fabulous lens. I love geography related subjects and this has got my map chasing juices flowing. Thanks for a great read and phenomenal pictures. Bookmarked!!
theSEOmama on December 11, 2011:
Wow, this is a GREAT lens! Love your writing style, and LOVE the beautiful pictures. I enjoy visiting and reading about obscure and strange travel destinations...these roads are crazy!
Allan R. Wallace from Wherever Human Rights Reign on December 10, 2011:
We called LA 's Judge Harry Pregerson intersection the spaghetti bowl. I restored British autos in high school and college, I understand your three engine concept, Lots of fun and character, I logged many miles on the road and many hours under the hood. Maggie looks sweet.
kerryhrabstock on December 06, 2011:
Such fun. Almost as fun as actually driving down Lombard St.
sousababy on November 19, 2011:
This is great. My father had that same picture of Lombard Street. Thanks for sharing these with us (feel a little sorry for the road crew that had to construct these).
HubLens Admin on November 18, 2011:
This is an amazing lens to travel visually the great roads through the world! Outstanding job -
laxcarrental on November 09, 2011:
Great lens! i've been down the Lombard street, maybe I'll be brave enough to try the others!
AlisonMeacham on November 09, 2011:
What an amazing lens. I love the pictures and can see how much work this would have been. Squid Angel Blessings to you
JoshK47 on November 08, 2011:
I loved this lens quite a bit - I haven't taken very many road trips, but when I read stories like this I always feel inspired. Blessed by a SquidAngel.
Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on November 01, 2011:
Enjoyed this journey very much. Instead of the MG I ended up with the '65VW and did travel Hwy1 with it a few times, also, Hwy 1 in Canada and down the whole western coast.
Serj on October 31, 2011:
I love this lens! I'd love to drive the Millau Viaduct some day, although most of these roads are nuts, had to laugh at the Russian Siberian road, you'd think they'd fix it!
Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on October 30, 2011:
Wow, and I thought Lombard Street was one of the craziest streets! Cool idea for a lens.
RinchenChodron on October 23, 2011:
There are some really beautiful drives here. Original idea for a lens
Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on September 30, 2011:
Very cool! What scary looking roads and some so beautiful! I really enjoyed this lens. Blessed.
trustytraveltip1 on September 17, 2011:
Awesome lens! Just make you want to go now and explore this amazing roads in the world! What a stunning and inspiring article! Like the photos!