Twisty turns, steep inclines, and spectacular scenery, the world's most frightening roads have it all, and adrenaline junkies will be tested when traversing any of these dangerous highways. There are mountainous passes that hug unprotected cliff edges in avalanche-prone terrain. There are narrow, unpaved gravel roads that guarantee white-knuckle drives and screams of excitement.
The scariest roads in the world are found on almost every continent, and there's a reason these are the roads less taken. Even expert drivers will get a thrill navigating these incredible highways and byways.
Anyone who has watched the series Ice Road Truckers has heard of the treacherous James W. Dalton Highway. Considered the most dangerous and loneliest road in the United States, Dalton Highway was primarily constructed for trucks and heavy vehicles to transport oil.
There are only three service stations along this 414 mile stretch of highway and nothing except icy tundra for an entire 240 miles. Dalton Highway is laden with gravel, potholes, large stones, strong winds, sharp bends, and killer climbs. Despite its dangers, the road does pass through the Arctic circle and provides a spectacular view of the northern lights at the right time of year.
Skippers Canyon Road is a twisty, one-lane road that winds through some of the country's most mountainous terrain. It is so dangerous that rental car insurance companies don't cover travel on this road; however, tour buses are available for thrill-seeking tourists.
This scary road was built in the 1800s by miners looking to access the township during the gold rush. Narrow and unpaved, it was constructed with expediency, not safety, in mind. It is still considered one of New Zealand's most scenic routes, with amazing views of the Shotover River and valley below.
If you want to explore Nanga Parbat Mountain, the ninth-highest peak in the world, you must first traverse the frightening Fairy Meadows Road. There are no guardrails to protect drivers from the over 2,000 feet fall on this unmaintained road, making it among the world's deadliest highways.
Also known as Nanga Parbat Pass, the 10-mile road climbs almost 8,000 feet in that short distance. The steep, unpaved road narrows as it approaches Fairy Meadows at the base of Nanga Parbat. Visitors need to hike or bike the final section of the road as it is too narrow for even a small vehicle.
In Norway, Trollstigen literally translates to "the troll path" and is among the country's most dramatic and most visited attractions. Weather conditions in the winter make the road so dangerous that it is closed from October through May.
Trollstigen Mountain Road overlooks the Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in western Norway frequented by tourists. With its 9% incline and 11 narrow turns, this captivating road provides dizzying views of gorgeous mountains, lush valleys, deep fjords, and the remarkable Stigfossen waterfall.
Eerily called "The Road of Death," North Yungas Road lives up to its ominous nickname. This road that connects the capital city of La Paz to Coroico in North Yungas has an estimated death toll of between 200 and 300 people each year.
During the drive on this narrow road with no guardrails, the elevation drops from over 15,000 feet to 3,900 feet. In spite of the loose rocks, rain, and fog, the North Yungas Road presents visitors with an astounding view of the Amazon rainforest. Adventurous bike enthusiasts enjoy maneuvering the narrow lanes and steep curves of this scary road.
Carved along the side of and through the Taihang Mountains in Xinxiang, Henan Province, Guoliang Tunnel Road was constructed by 13 villagers in the 1970s. After years of asking the government to build a highway connecting it to surrounding towns, the village of Guoliang got tired of waiting and built the road themselves.
The Guoliang Tunnel Road is 0.8 miles long in a tunnel that is 15 feet high and 12 feet wide, barely wide enough for two cars. The coolest feature of this DIY highway is the 30 "windows" of varying sizes built into the tunnel for a view of the sweeping landscape below.
Connecting Santiago, with Mendoza, Argentina is Los Caracoles Pass. This windy road has a nightmare of sharp twisting turns that spiral down the inclines of the Andes Mountains. At its maximum altitude of almost 10,500 feet, the route passes through the Cristo Redentor tunnel. Opened in 1980, the tunnel shortened the pass by six miles and eliminated 65 switchbacks.
Los Caracoles Pass is notorious for receiving heavy snowfall and also faces threats of rockfalls. The road is frequented by large trucks and is covered in snow most of the year. Locals often refer to the road as "Snail's Pass."
With 60 hairpin turns in just 15 miles, the Stelvio Pass in northern Italy is one of the world's most scenic but scary drives. Climbing 9,045 feet with gradients as steep as 14%, this gorgeous mountainous road rewards drivers with spectacular Alpine views. This highway is the second-highest paved road in the Alps.
Considered to be among Europe's greatest works of engineering, Stelvio Pass gained infamy when former Formula One driver Stirling Moss drove off the road during an event. Sharp bends get dangerously narrow at points with only a low-lying concrete barrier for protection.
Weaving its way through the Far East, linking the two regions of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and Magadan Oblast, is the terrifying Kolyma Highway. This frightening road is known as the "Road of Bones" in remembrance of the forced laborers who passed away during the road's construction.
The largely unpaved Kolyma Highway is the most remote federal highway in Russia. It is the only passage to the region of Russia where the coldest temperature outside of Antarctica was recorded. Only 62 miles from Oymyakon, the coldest city in the world, this road is extremely scary and dangerous.
Karakoram Highway was given the nickname of "The Friendship Highway" because it was completed in 1979 as a collaboration between China and Pakistan and is the primary connection between the two countries over the Karakoram mountains. Along the 800 mile stretch of highway, you can see the Indus River, the massive Baltoro glacier, and K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.
At 15,397 feet above sea level, the Karakoram Highway is the highest international paved road in the world. Flash floods, landslides, and a high rock face on one side with a sharp drop on the other side make this mountainous road extra scary.