The construction of roads connects humankind in a very meaningful way, allowing movement of both products and people around the globe.
Without roads, our world views would be very small indeed, with little access to things or ideas outside of our own backyards. It’s quite staggering to contemplate the amount of work that has gone into the network of roads that exist in the world!
That said, not all roads are created equal. The 10 incredible roads on our list are definitely worth a look, but should be approached with extreme caution. Buckle up, and let’s take a ride!
1. Trans Siberian Highway, Russia
The Trans Siberian Highway traverses 6,800 miles (over 11,000 kilometers) from the Baltic Sea to the Japan Sea, or more generally from Atlantic to Pacific.
During warm, wet summers, large portions of the road become impassable quagmires. In the winter, there are unpredictable blizzards, and avalanches and landslides can happen any time.
Some portions of the Siberian section are very poorly paved, and run through remote areas devoid of gasoline or assistance of any kind. If you choose to drive the Trans Siberian Highway, don’t go alone!
2. Karnali Highway, Nepal
The Karnali Highway is the paved link between Surkhet and Jumla, but also goes on as a dirt road from Nagma to Talcha. The road is plagued by narrow stretches full of bumps, potholes, rocks, and flooded portions.
Steep cliffs drop off from both sides, leading to frequent landslides. The road is so dangerous that local police have banned driving on it at night. There are good reasons to risk the trip though, including a visit to the gorgeous Rara National Park.
3. Atlantic Road, Norway
Winding through the midwest part of the Norwegian coastline, the Atlantic Road is one of the most beautiful and popular drives in the world.
The wildly curvy road hugs the coastline of the frothing Norwegian Sea so closely that waves often crash over the surface during storms.
Indeed, unpredictable weather, including winds over 30 mph, is the main reason to be wary of driving the Atlantic Road.
The eight bridges along the road’s 891 meters provide stomach dropping views that may make you feel as though you’ll fall into the sea on the other end.
4. Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
Guoliang Tunnel was carved from a high section in the remote Taihang Mountains of Henan Province, China.
Thirteen villagers used 4,000 hammers and 12 tons of steel to build it. The tunnel is an extremely scenic route and popular tourist destination.
It is a short 1.2 kilometers (0.75mi) long, but at only 12 feet wide, can only accommodate one-way traffic.
Over 30 carved windows of varying shapes and sizes overlook the scenic gully. Originally used by the builders to remove rubble from the tunnel, the windows now provide the views that make this drive so spectacular.
5. James Dalton Highway, Alaska
The James W. Dalton Highway stretches 414 miles between the town of Livengood (population 13) and the industrial oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, and is mostly constructed of loosely-packed dirt and gravel.
It features sharp twists and turns through boreal forests, misty coastal plains, mountain passes, and across the Arctic Circle.
Dangers faced by drivers include fog, oncoming traffic, potholes, shifting gravel, grizzly bears, rain, snow, and the very real chance of running out of gas.
A 240 mile stretch is the longest unserviced road in North America, with no services of any kind, including cell, radio, and internet.
6. Carretera Federal 1, Mexico
Carretera Federal 1 in Mexico is 1,711 km (1,063 mi) long and spans the length of the Baja California Peninsula from Cabo San Lucas in the south to Tijuana in the north.
The road is one of the most dangerous in the world because of its many blind corners with no protective barriers or shoulders.
However, this road also features the longest straight stretch of road in Mexico, pushing through 169 km (105 miles) without a turn. Take it slow on Carretera Federal 1.
Accidents are very common, evidenced by split open guardrails where others drivers missed their turns and plowed right on through.
7. Commonwealth Avenue, Philippines
Located in metropolitan Quezon City, Commonwealth Avenue is the widest road in the country at between 6-18 lanes over its 12.4 km (7.7 mi) length.
While most of the world’s most dangerous roads are in remote locations, Commonwealth Avenue is nicknamed the “Killer Highway” because of extraordinarily heavy traffic coupled with non-existent regulations.
Public vehicles are known for fast and careless driving, and the road has no streetlights, road signs, or bike lanes.
The roadway also lacks a proper drainage system and often floods during the rainy season. All this adds up to a killer combination that causes 3-5 accidents per day between motorists, pedestrians, and bikers.
8. Stelvio Pass, Italy
Stelvio Pass (Passo dello Stelvio) is the third highest pass through the Alps and has a reputation as the most breathtaking.
Featuring 48 switchback turns, the view is truly a wonder to behold. Take it easy around the 180-degree corners, as one wrong move could send you over the low concrete barrier and down the mountain.
This road’s popularity also means that it can be very crowded with tourists, and local drivers have been described as “homicidal” due to their risky speed. Typically open from June to September, it can still be closed anytime due to snow.
9. Kabul-Jalalabad Highway, Afghanistan
This 40-mile stretch of road between Kabul and Jalalabad spans a breathtaking gorge, framed by sheer rock cliffs that rise more than 2,000 feet about the Kabul River.
Though incredibly gorgeous, it is also one of the most deadly stretches of road in the world. Says local man Mohammed Nabi, “I sit right here and watch people crash all day long. The course of history has proved that the Afghan people are bullies.
This is why we cannot drive safely.” In one particularly bloody two-hour stretch of 2010, 13 accidents occurred, nearly all of them fatal. This is one beautiful part of the world better seen in photographs.
10. Old Yungas Road, Bolivia
Otherwise known as “Death Road,” Old Yungas was carved into the side of the Cordillera Oriental Mountain chain during the 1930s.
Bordered on one side by solid rock and a 2,000 foot abyss on the other, it’s no wonder this road claims 200-300 lives every year.
Many portions are not paved and there are few guardrails. The Amazon serves up frequent heavy rains and fog, as well as mudslides, falling rocks, and occasional waterfalls across the roadway.
Interestingly, special rules apply for driving the North Yungas Road. Elsewhere in Bolivia, people drive on the right, but here cars must drive on the left to retain a better view of the road’s treacherous contours.
Driving any of these roads is sure to get the heart pumping and create lifelong memories. Traversing both lush and barren landscapes, they take people to some of the most beautiful and remote locations in the world.
But due to the complex and sometimes dangerous conditions, the driver may not get to enjoy the view quite as much.
For that reason, as well as for safety’s sake, we recommend taking these journeys with friends. Let the adventure begin!