Roads That Only The Best Drivers In The World Can Handle

“Life is a daring adventure,” wrote the author Helen Keller. But we'd argue that some roads are best left untraveled. Just take a look at these wild roads from around the world. They would turn our knuckles white and our knees into jello! Only drivers with the strongest nerves and stomachs would dare to embark on these risky journeys.

1. Rohtang Pass, India

The name “Rohtang” means “a pile of corpses,” but the Himalayan road is actually an ancient trade route connecting the humid Kullu Valley with the arid Lahaul and Spiti Valleys. It has a long and infamous reputation for blizzards and landslides. The road has an elevation of 13,058 feet — but these days you don't need to drive over it. The Atal Tunnel, which opened in 2020, lets drivers take a shortcut through the mountain instead.

2. Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Florida, USA

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge has a dark history, but the latest version of the stunning bridge is as safe as can be. After all, the 4.14-mile-long structure is pitched over one of the most active shipping lanes in America. The bridge also benefitted from a paint job in 2022 as well as the welcome addition of corrosion protection.

3. Tianmen Shan Road, China

An astonishing 99 hairpin bends punctuate the 6.8-mile road to the summit of Tianmen Mountain in China’s Hunan province. Yet while the route is known as the “Avenue To Heaven,” this is because the rock archway at the summit is considered a mythical threshold to the divine — not because drivers meet their end here. Interestingly, the road took eight years to complete and is complemented by the world’s longest mountain cableway.

4. Atlantic Road Bridge, Norway

The Atlantic Road Bridge — or rather, a series of eight bridges — is either a dream or a nightmare, depending on your view of roller coasters. The constructions dip and dive like yoyos, often apparently vanishing into the horizon, along its 27,145-foot length. It's potentially idyllic, sure, but the roads can sometimes flood. And then it no doubt becomes a frightening prospect. 

5. Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand

Skippers Canyon Road in New Zealand is so wild that local car rental companies refuse to insure drivers who use it. Carved into a sheer cliff face by mining companies in the late 19th century, the 16.5-mile highway is built on exceptionally soft and slippery rock that warps with rain and pressure. Nonetheless, the route is a major tourist attraction.

6. Stelvio Pass, Italy

Top Gear once named Stelvio Pass the “greatest driving road in the world.” That is likely because the treacherous-seeming road is the second-highest paved mountain pass in the Alps and boasts some 75 hairpin turns. But you don't have to be on four wheels to experience this monster road. Every year there is a “Stelvio Bike Day” so cyclists can climb to the top on traffic-free tarmac.

7. Dadès Gorge Road, Morocco

Also known as the “Road of a Thousand Kasbahs,” the Dadès Gorge Road in Morocco carves a risky-looking route between the Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain ranges. Running for 100 miles with multiple hairpin turns, sheer drops, and few barriers, it is stunningly beautiful but reportedly in appalling condition.

8. Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan

The Taroko Gorge Road is 73 miles long and cuts a path from Xincheng to Ren'ai — although the gorge is the feature everybody wants to see. In fact, so many people want to see the gorge that hikers, motor vehicles, and bicycles will often fight for space along the narrow track. There are also plenty of hairpin turns and single-lane tunnels to keep things interesting.

9. Passage du Gois, France

The briny waters of the Atlantic Ocean cover the Passage du Gois for all but a few hours each day. Hence, low tide signals a mad rush to cross the passage — a 2.5-mile road connecting the island of Noirmoutier with the French mainland. But many visitors still get wet. And in 1999 its seaweed-strewn surface caused a major crash in the Tour de France.

10. Guoliang Tunnel, China

Known locally as “the road that does not tolerate mistakes,” Guoliang Tunnel in China’s Taihang Mountains induces the dual terrors of vertigo and claustrophobia. It was actually carved out of the mountainside by local villagers using simple hand tools. As a result, the 0.75-mile tunnel is just 13 feet wide and 16 feet high. Its walls are punctured with 30 windows overlooking the vertiginous drop below.

11. James W. Dalton Highway, USA

Less than 40 people live along the 414-mile-long James W. Dalton Highway in Alaska. You’ll find no gas stations and no motels, either. There's almost nothing but the bleak embrace of Arctic landscapes. Because it was built to service the Prudhoe Bay Oilfield, this largely unpaved highway is usually traversed by big rigs — which can take the ferocious sub-zero gales and savage potholes.

12. Millau Viaduct, France

Standing at 1,104 feet, France’s Millau Viaduct holds the esteemed title of the tallest bridge in the world. The blog Dangerous Roads elaborated, “Looking down on clouds is to be expected from an airplane, but it’s a bit more unsettling in a car. Yet that’s often the sight when driving across this bridge, which is taller than the Eiffel Tower at its highest point.”

13. Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan

This ten-mile-long gravel track in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is said to be entirely unmaintained and intensely unstable. Naturally, Fairy Meadows Road — built by villagers from the Nanga Parbat Mountain — has no barriers. Oh, and only its first section can be crossed with a motor vehicle. The rest must be completed on a bike or on foot.

14. Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Virginia, USA

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is 186 feet high and renowned for making drivers grip their steering wheels extra tight. At almost five miles long, the bridge is a daunting drive in the best of weather, and even more so during one of the area’s frequent storms. You can even hire companies to drive you across the bridge so you don’t have to face the prospect yourself. 

15. Storseisundet Bridge, Norway

The 850-foot-long, 75-foot-high Storseisundet Bridge is undoubtedly safe. Yet its construction might make you think otherwise. Locals call it “the drunk bridge” because its twists and bends create an optical illusion that makes drivers feel like the road’s about to pitch them suddenly into the ocean! But remember it’s just a trick of the mind. A cruel, cruel trick. 

16. Furka Pass, Switzerland

Switzerland’s Furka Pass challenges drivers with steep gradients and multiple hairpin turns. It was immortalized as the location for a high-speed car chase in the James Bond film Goldfinger. And while mists and blizzards add extra spice to this Alpine route, it remains a popular destination owing to its stunning views of the mountains. Plus, thankfully, it is kept well-paved.

17. Eshima Ohashi Bridge, Japan

Eshima Ohashi Bridge has a gradient of 6.1 percent on one side and 5.1 percent on the other — and it's only a mile long. It was designed this way to allow ships access underneath. But when you look at the bridge from a certain angle, it’s enough to roll even the most solid stomachs.

18. Siduhe Bridge, Hubei, China

To give you an idea of just how high the Siduhe Bridge is, its support cables had to be installed with rockets. It sounds out of this world, but its span, at a height of 1,600 feet, connects mountains! It may comfort you to know that the bridge is constructed with massive quantities of concrete and steel. Or that may make it worse if you find yourself inching across its 5,000-foot length. 

19. The Moki Dugway, USA

Utah’s Moki Dugway is a steep, winding, unpaved dirt track that climbs 1,200 feet up a sheer cliff face of Cedar Mesa. Built by Texas Zinc to transport uranium ore, the road is frequently closed thanks to damage caused by inclement weather. It’s actually named after the Pueblo Indians whose ruins lie scattered around the landscape, and it offers stunning and expansive — not to say nerve-jangling — views.

20. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana, USA

At almost 24 miles long, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the current record-holder for the longest continuous bridge over water. “The bridge is so long that motorists lose sight of land for an eight-mile stretch,” Atlas Obscura noted. “Drivers have been known to freeze out of some kind of false seaborne fear, at which point the police have escorted them off the bridge.”

21. Col du Chaussy, France

Climbing to a dizzying height of 5,030 feet, Col du Chaussy is a hair-raising mountain pass connecting the remote village of Montvernier with the Maurienne Valley in the Rhône-Alpes region of southwest France. The road was included in the 2015 Tour de France route and is home to the famous “Hairpins of Montvernier” — 17 hairpin turns distributed over a single 1.5-mile section. That’s one roughly every 480 feet.

22. Paso Internacional los Libertadores, Chile

Prior to 1980, this highway in the Andes Mountains had more than 65 switchbacks in a single six-mile stretch, but that number was significantly reduced with the construction of a tunnel. Nevertheless, Paso Internacional los Libertadores continues to boast some 20 hairpin turns, frequent ice and snow, and, due to its location on Chile and Argentina’s international border, high volumes of traffic.

23. Yungas Road, Bolivia

Dubbed the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” by the Inter-American Development Bank in 1995, the notorious Yungas Road in Bolivia is also known as the “Death Road.” While this route’s condition was significantly improved in 2006, its sheer drops of 2,000 feet continue to draw tourists keen to test their nerves.

24. Zoji La, India

At a head-spinning altitude of 11,575 feet, Zoji La is a high-altitude pass connecting Ladakh and Kashmir in Western Himalaya. Buffeted by high winds and snow, the unpaved one-lane road runs for 5.6 miles and skirts jaw-dropping chasms. All along the way, brave travelers will be rewarded with astounding views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Yet because of the precarious conditions, it is often entirely impassable in winter. However, the Zoji-la Tunnel is being built to remedy this.

25. Mackinac Bridge, Michigan, USA

They don’t call the Mackinac Bridge “Big Mac'' for nothing: it stretches 5 miles across Michigan. And if the thought of traveling that far across a huge bridge chills you, there’s more bad news — it’s often buffeted by intense winds. The Big Mac’s designed to withstand them, but even so its center can shift by 35 feet in extreme conditions. 

26. Shafer Canyon Road, USA

Shafer Canyon in eastern Utah was the location for that iconic scene in Thelma and Louise where the heroines drive off the edge of a cliff together. Originally built by uranium miners in the mid-20th century, the 18-mile dirt road known as Shafer Canyon Road zigzags up a steep cliff face to bask in some of the country’s most photogenic landscapes.

27. Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China

This 1,330-mile-long mountain highway links Chengdu in Sichuan with Lhasa in Tibet. The road careens through no less than 99 nerve-wracking switchbacks on a single 24-mile stretch. Add the threat of landslides, avalanches, ice, snow, mud and kidnappers, and this singular stretch of road must remain the strict preserve of the most hardcore adventurers.

28. Trollstigen Mountain Road, Norway

The Trollstigen in Norway skirts Europe’s steepest mountain, the Trollveggen (“Troll Wall”), with a multitude of sharp turns. Inaugurated in 1936 by King Haakon VII, the 66-mile road took eight years to build. This route — whose name translates to “Trolls’ Path” — passes through a dramatic landscape of jagged mountains, cascading waterfalls, and mysterious fjords. And because of the threat of adverse weather conditions, the Trollstigen is closed through late fall and winter.

29. Strada delle 52 Gallerie

Cars and bicycles are officially banned from Italy’s Strada delle 52 Gallerie, but locals often ignore the rules and drive on it anyway. Built amid the rocky spires of the Pasubio massif, the four-mile-long road served as a military mule trail during the First World War. It also boasts no less than 52 tunnels, some of them little more than 7 feet wide.

30. Jacob’s Ladder, Australia

Snaking up the slope of Ben Lomond Mountain in Tasmania, Jacob’s Ladder is a single-lane gravel track that reaches its apex at a giddy 5,150 feet. It also boasts some of the world’s most infamous hairpin bends and offers staggering views over the surrounding range. But given the sheer drop and slip-prone surfaces, it may be safest to keep your eyes on the road.

31. Halsema Highway, Philippines

Located on Luzon Island in the Philippines, this 93-mile-long road runs along the Cordillera Valley from Baguio to Bontoc. Its highest elevation point is a staggering 7,400 feet above sea level and was once the most elevated highway in the country. But the possibility of falling rocks and landslides on this road is high. The road was even featured on Discovery World's Hot Roads: World's Most Dangerous Roads.

32. Karakoram Highway, stretching from China to Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway is among the highest roads on the planet — rising to an astonishing 15,466 feet. People flock from all over the world to give this guard rail-less route a go, too. They'll be treated to plenty of twists and turns along the route — as well as views over the edge of sheer drops.