Roads with drops of 2,000 feet, mudslides and tumbling rocks, snowstorms, black ice, heavy rain, fog, bears, strong winds and fierce cold: who ever said road trips were supposed to be relaxing? Not when you take on some of the most dangerous and terrifying journeys around the world.
If you want absolute solitude then the Dalton Highway in Alaska is your route of choice. Going on for 414 miles from Livengood to Prudhoe Bay, the road slices through forest and tundra, crosses the Yukon River, negotiates Brooks Range and passes over the North Slope to the Arctic Ocean. It’s a brutal journey and one with plenty of perils: fog, potholes, snow, grizzly bears, fierce cold and extremely strong winds. If you just have to go, June to mid-July is the best time.
In the 1970s a tunnel was carved into the Taihang Mountains in China to connect the isolated village Gouliang with the outside world. The 4,000-foot-long channel was carved by just 13 villagers over five years and is about 16 feet high and 13 feet wide.
The route has 30 ‘windows’ which provide an incredible view of mountain scenery; travelers can feel the kiss of the sun one moment and the coolness of the shade the next. Keep your concentration though: it’s not named the “road that does not forgive mistakes” for no reason.
The Trans-Siberian Highway takes you through about 6,000 miles of forests, deserts and mountains between Vladivostok and St. Petersburg.
While there is an asphalt-concrete pavement on the highway, it’s not always the best quality. Instead you have to contend with unpaved dirt roads that are barely passable in difficult weather conditions. Heavy rain in the summer and sudden snowstorms with black ice during the long Siberian winters are inevitable, and a real challenge in no man’s land.
Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps is one of the highest mountain roads in Europe at 2757 metres. The winding route looks like a random scribble on the peaks from afar, and yet it was named Top Gear’s best driving road in the world back in 2008.
Those guys must like their near-death encounters because even though it does have a breathtaking view, there’s only a low concrete barrier separating you from a terrifying fall down the steep slope.
The Yungas Road in Bolivia is called the ‘death road’ and, in many respects, that’s all you need to know. To one side is solid rock, and on the other a 2,000 foot abyss. As if it wasn’t dangerous enough, things only get worse when the rain comes and leads to mudslides and tumbling stone. And if you meet another vehicle on the two-way, 12 foot wide path? Good luck with that.