Just roll the car windows down and feel the wind in your hair. A road trip’s the best way to see truly all the world has to offer… that is until you have to take the car on a stretch of pavement that’s barely clinging to the side of a mountain!
Some roads are so treacherous you’d be well advised to just cross them off your map altogether. These are the worst of the most wildly dangerous roads around the world; they’ll have you clenching your steering wheel so tight your knuckles will turn white — so buckle up!
1. Atlantic Ocean Road (Norway): This harrowing stretch of highway is the only way for the residents of a Norwegian archipelago to reach the mainland. Oftentimes, waves crash against the side of the road, hitting cars passing by.
2. The Strada delle 52 Gallerie (Pusbio, Italy): Many bicyclists have tragically lost their lives on this steep and narrow Northern Italian road, which was originally built as a military mule road during WWI. The road has 52 different tunnels throughout.
The Lonely Salmon
3. The Himalayan Roads (Nepal): With sharp angles, this one-car road clings to the side of the Himalayan mountains, and it’s nearly impossible for all but the most nimble vehicles to traverse.
4. James Dalton Highway (Alaska): Forget the ice, the Alaskan highway actually has stone storms! The two-lane, gravel interstate stretches over 400 miles and will oftentimes create a stone fury when winds wipe across the desolate land.
5. North Yungas Road (Bolivia): Called “path of death” by the locals, this road lacks guardrails, so small stone pillars are the only thing between your vehicle and the drop below.
6. The Taroko Road (Taiwan): Built into a mountainside, this road is an impressive feat of engineering. This beautiful drive proves to be very dangerous as there is low visibility and potential for falling rocks around every turn.
7. The Guoliang Tunnel Road (China): This road in China features one of the world’s longest tunnels, inside of which there are about 30 carved-out “windows” that heavily distract drivers.
8. Skipper’s Canyon Road (New Zealand): It might be beautiful to behold, but the road itself is untended gravel. This makes driving on the narrow, winding road extremely dangerous.
9. Fairy Meadows (Pakistan): Maintenance on this caravan road is rare. To make matters worse, rock slides are almost a daily occurrence, abruptly obstructing the road and catching drivers off guard.
10. The Luxor-al-Hurghada (Egypt): Sand makes driving on this road difficult. but the real threat lies with the band of robbers that attack and steal from cars that pass through the area.
11. The Halsema Highway (Philippines): The road sits at 7,400 miles above sea level. Many people who follow the road up experience altitude sickness. If that’s not what gets you, then the unpredictable weather that occurs at that altitude sure will!
12. The Barton Highway (Australia): A cross-country highway that connects multiple big cities throughout Australia, it’s riddled with potholes and lacks protective barriers.
13. The A726 (Scotland): A rather quiet and sleepy road during the day, a large number of head-on collisions occur here. Perhaps it’s the straightaways surrounded by rolling hills that hypnotize its drivers.
14. The A682 (England): Switchbacks threaten all who drive on this one-lane mountain road. The minimal barriers on the road aren’t very good at stopping potential accidents.
15. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway (China): The most terrifying thing about this particular road is how many rivers you drive through. It winds through valleys, alongside rivers that breach its banks, making driving conditions very dangerous.
16. The A44 (England): This highway is highly congested, and the number of drivers on the road leads to some of the highest accident rates in the world.
17. The Pan American Highway (North and South America): With all of the scenery and traffic, drivers tend to pay no attention on this road, a massive network of highways that cover over 18,600 miles.
18. The Perdikaki-Patiopoulo (Greece): Famous for its stunning views and its jackknife-causing turns, you have to basically keep your foot off the gas just to get around a turn on this wild road.
19. Cotopaxi Volcano Road (Ecuador): Named for the nearby active volcano, which, in the past 200 or so years, has erupted about 50 times, this road is completely unpredictable.
20. Highway One (Mexico): In addition to poor conditions and loose falling rock areas, there’s a lot of crime to be wary of on this road, which runs from Tijuana to San Diego. It’s best to keep your traveling to during the day and never stop for anyone.
21. Stelvio Pass (Italy): At 9,045 feet above the sea, the rapidly changing weather makes navigating this perilous path’s turns a tall task. You can find it in the jagged peaks of the Alps.
With so many roads to avoid — like this one, which descends into the Carlsbad Caverns — you might be discouraged from getting into your car at all. Luckily, there are so many gorgeous highways that put road trips back on the menu.
1. Going-to-the-Sun Road: The higher up, the better the view, right? That’s the case for this road in Montana’s Glacier National Park. With hairpin turns 7,000 feet above sea level, just make sure you drive safely!
National Park Service / Jacob W. Frank
2. Great River Road: Though it runs along almost the entire Mississippi, Louisiana’s stretch of the Great River Road takes the cake. Locals say the crown jewel of the road is Oak Alley, a plantation home surrounded by mighty old trees.
3. Pacific Coast Highway: These 659 miles might just make up the most famous road in the United States. With sights including redwood trees, Monterey Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge, this road trip is hard to beat!
4. North Shore Drive: For the best views of Lake Superior, follow this road from Duluth, Minnesota all the way up to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Be sure to build in time to stop at the Split Rock Lighthouse and the many national parks you’ll pass on the way.
5. Route 66: Once called the Main Street of America, this highway connects Chicago to Santa Monica, California. Many of its charming roadside towns faded away when more modern freeways replaced 66, but it still provides a blast from the past for adventurers.
6. Overseas Highway: Originally envisioned as a railroad across the Florida Keys, the state government bought the crumbling structure in 1935 after a massive hurricane. Florida has since turned it into a 113-mile highway that shows off beautiful water and wildlife.
7. Trail Ridge Road: Talk about a rocky road! This scenic drive courses through Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Before visiting, remember that Trail Ridge is closed during the winter — the extreme snowfall often makes it impassable.
8. Patchwork Parkway: Named for the quilts used by early settlers in this Utah region, this route boasts some truly unique rock formations. The brick-red spires came about as a result of volcanic activity millions of years ago.
9. Beartooth Highway: After a trip to Yellowstone National Park, you’re best off continuing your sightseeing along Beartooth. The roads zig-zag through a steep mountain pass, which is only open in the warmer months.
10. Brandywine Valley: For a shorter jaunt, you can cover the main stretch of the Brandywine River between Pennsylvania and Delaware in just 20 minutes! Its elegant homes and lush greenery will make you feel like you’ve entered a fantasy novel.
Hagley Museum and Library
11. Oregon Coast Highway 101: With all due respect to the Pacific Coast Highway, some claim that 101 makes for an even better trip along the ocean. Each bend reveals some of the best beaches, forests, and cultural sites that Oregon has to offer.
Kafoury & McDougal
12. Seward Highway: If you’re in a mood to take a break from the continental United States, check out this Alaskan freeway. Running from Anchorage to Seward, this route weaves past snow-capped mountains and towering glaciers. Keep an eye out for moose and bears, too!
Ping & Wenji / Flickr
13. Park Loop Road: Visit Acadia National Park in Maine to enjoy this scenic byway. Frederick Law Olmsted — the architect of Central Park — designed this loop, which shows off the best of the New England seaside with its many observation points.
Bangor Daily News / Bill Trotter
14. Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Lake: Ancient glaciers formed these geographical treasures in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Good Morning America called Sleeping Bear the most beautiful place in the country; the nearby Glen Lake’s crystal-clear water shines brightly on the charming villages surrounding it.
15. Bluebonnet Trail: Ennis, Texas lies 35 miles south of Dallas, and every spring it becomes one of the most breathtaking places on Earth. Bluebonnet blossoms spring up all over the meadows, allowing motorists to zip through an ocean of flowers.
16. Skyline Drive: Atop Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive presents both sweeping vistas of the state and an up-close look at nature’s beauty. The route is so picturesque, it’s easy to forget it’s only a little over an hour away from Washington, D.C.
17. Lemhi Pass: To follow in the steps of Lewis and Clark, you can navigate through the rolling hills of this mountain pass. Because it’s right on the border of Idaho and Montana, you can also park your car between two states at once!
Kent / Flickr
18. Ruta Panoramica: Jumping over to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, this 167-mile roadway matches anything you’ll see in the mainland. Prepare for the best of San Juan, the island’s vibrant rainforests, and everything in between.
19. Hawaii Belt: Routes 11, 19, and 190 make up the Hawaii Belt on the Big Island, as the locals call it. Travelers can choose from a number of variations, but they all offer spectacular Polynesian views. Naturally, this drive is best taken when there are not any active volcanic eruptions.
20. Highway 12: Running from Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef, the Utah road sports an incredible range of landscape diversity. Visitors will encounter deserts, canyons, and forests — all in the course of a few hours!
Bryce Canyon Country