Roads: They're used for easy access between towns and cities and simply consist of pavement and gravel, right? Wrong! The definition of a "road" varies depending on which country and part of the world you're in, and many are not safe even by the loosest of standards. While you might think there are plenty of roads around the world which have outrageous reputations, you'd probably be surprised to know that there are some fairly crazy roads in the U.S., too. But what's our definition of "crazy", per se? Anything that defies logic (and occasionally gravity), is morally questionable and provides a vista that you could only imagine in your dreams. That was the guide we used in order to seek out the most intense drives you could ever experience in your life.
While most of these we'd suggest staying away from, there are many that have a safe reputation and have a high pay-off. Some have horror stories while others are deeply rooted in history, but they all stand their ground as far as holding an insane reputation. Join us on this virtual road trip as we experience some of the most demanding, focus-driven, and unreal passages throughout the world.
25 Kolyma Highway, Russia
This is one creepy road with a very serious reputation. Russia is vast with plenty of history, not all of it light-hearted and uplifting. The history behind this road and its creation is one that's filled with the tragedies of those who didn't survive construction and rumor has it that their bodies were left to become part of the road. In the barren wilderness, there's not much they could have done and their stories live on in this empty, cold landscape.
24 Zoji La, India
If you hadn't guessed already that roads cut straight into the sides of mountain passes is dangerous, well, they are. This pass runs between Srinagar and Leh and sits at the nosebleed height of 11,575 feet. It's the only means of travel between Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley, serving as a road that's well-traveled albeit incredibly dangerous. Currently, it faces a routine shutdown in the winter, lest drivers make their way between walls of solid ice along the side of a sheer cliff.
23 Yungas Road, Bolivia
Known by the locals as one of the most dangerous roads in the world, Yungas Road has claimed plenty of lives since its conception, something like 300 annually. It's a driving nightmare, considering the occasional guardrail in conjunction with straight drops if you happen to veer even slightly. This road comes with its own set of rules, as drivers are required to stay to the left-hand side in order to gauge their distance from the edge -- Contrary to the common driving laws in the rest of Bolivia. Between that and the ever-changing weather conditions at that altitude, this road is defiant in the face of what the average driver can handle.
22 Passage du Gois, France
This is a well-known road throughout much of the world and is commonly used in Europe. The Passage du Gois is found in France and spans roughly two and a half miles... Across a section of the Atlantic Ocean. It bridges Île de Noirmoutier and Beauvoir-sur-Mer and twice a day, visitors and locals can watch this passage slowly disappear as the tide rolls in. It must be traveled at the appropriate times and if you happen to not time them well...let's just say it's a slippery go. When the low tide comes back around, seaweed is left covering the pass, making it hazardously slippery in addition to just being soaked.
21 Tianmen Mountain Road, China
Though picturesque, the Tianmen Mountain Road eventually leads to the Tianmen Cave, otherwise known as the "Gate of Heaven". Visitors can board buses up to this summit, drive or cycle all the way to the top on their own time, but should be aware of the risks associated. An addition to the outrageous increase in altitude, this road is seven miles of hairpin twists (99, to be exact) and when they reach the top, they still need to make it all the way back down.
20 Dakhla Oasis, Egypt
This road is known as one of the more dangerous roads not due to switchback curves or elevation. The road into Dakhla Oasis is littered with sand and rocks but has some stunning views of Egypt that can only be seen via car travel. When descending down this sandy pass, you'll encounter rock formations as you've never seen and mountainous dunes that seem to absorb sunlight like nowhere else on earth. Not to mention, it's a fun drive to take if you're a fan of off-roading.
19 Gotthard Pass, Switzerland
To travel this road means to travel the pass between Uri and Ticino in a breathtaking part of Switzerland. This road cuts down the mountainside and into the valley and though it's completely fabricated from switchbacks turns, it's a sight to behold as you descend or ascend in elevation. Rule of thumb is to take your time and try not to get distracted by the humbling mountain range or vibrant greenery surrounding, and you should be fine.
18 Caucasus Mountain Road, Russia
The Caucasus Mountains paint an incredible landscape and this Russian road cuts right between them. Just looking at that drop gives us serious anxiety and this is not a route we'd want to travel when the weather is poor. This road serves as the passage between Sochi and Lake Ritsa and isn't like any other mountain road. The road itself is extremely narrow, leaving not much room for more than one car to pass at a time -- You can imagine how problematic this can be when traveled on a busy day.
17 Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
If you're looking for serious elevation, Pakistan certainly knows how to build a road that seemingly defies it. The Karakorum Highway is one of the highest in the world and has the nickname of the "Eighth Wonder of the World" due to its construction. You can literally see rockface that has been hollowed out to allow for cars to pass underneath, which seemingly defy gravity. Safe is definitely not something you'd feel while following this narrow mountain pass as it's notorious for being slippery and built on rough terrain. A monsoon caused a road closing in 2010, causing a landslide and destroying several towns in the process.
16 Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand
Skippers Canyon Road is definitely the most dangerous road in New Zealand and can be found in Queenstown. This road is avidly avoided by car rental companies, who refuse to travel the anxiety-inducing carving into a mountain that follows the Shotover River. Rumored to have once been the "richest river in the world", this pass was once used during the gold rush and remains to this day as one of the top ten scariest roads in the world. Mountain Biking across is also an option if you're really keen to test your own personal fitness.
15 Khardung La Pass, India
This strange road in China sits at roughly 17, 582 feet and is definitely not the easiest road to travel. It bridges the gap between the valleys of Shyok and Nubra and was only opened to public vehicles in 1988. It ranks number nine of the list of the highest roads in the world and while it does offer spectacular views, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. The weather also plays a role in when this pass should be traveled, as weather at that elevation is unpredictable and can be intense.
14 Cairo-Cape Town Road, Africa
The Cairo-Cape Town Highway isn't scary because of high elevations or outrageous drop-offs, but it does run through a dangerous part of the country. This road is a straight shot between the two destinations but comes with high-crime risks that have made this highway notorious, and not in a good way. It has seen more crime than many others in the world, however, to bypass it means traveling a complicated and intricate route to arrive at the same destination. Northern Kenya has since had a reinforcement as far as police patrolling so it is much safer than it was, but it's still a dicey chance to take.
13 Nurburgring Nordschleife, Germany
While this looks like a normal road, it's actually a famed raceway in Germany. It has been open to the public who can drive it within certain time frames as they please, however, it should only be done by an experienced driver. The general public is not allowed to race down this road although it seems like a fun idea, due to its numerous and unexpected switchbacks. The road itself is just over 20 miles and the fastest completion is currently held at just over six minutes. Don't try this yourself.
12 Eyre Highway, Australia
Leave it to Australia to construct a road that's not in any way dangerous due to heights or weather, but is just...Well, boring. The Eyre Highway is like something out of a nightmare for motorists who can't stand roads that seem to go on forever with no change in direction, altitude, or scenery. This highway spans a length of roughly 91 miles and the sole cause of accidents is due to its monotonous appearance. It's one of the longest, straightest roads in the world and along with it, drivers will find signs that encourage frequent breaks order to avoid exhaustion or wandering minds.
11 Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio Pass is like Italy's idea of a sick joke in the form of winding roads. It's definitely not one that's welcoming to the inexperienced driver and does not take kindly to those who enjoy a need for speed. This pass contains 75 hairpin twists that result in a balance between acceleration and easy braking. One of the most common mistakes made on this road is timing your deceleration incorrectly, resulting in going over the edge or ending up serving in the wrong direction completely. The last place you want to practice hard braking is during this route down.
10 In The US: James Dalton Highway, Alaska
For those of you who have seen Ice Road Truckers, you're likely familiar with this highway. It's one of the most dangerous in the world due to its arctic-like nature, lack of civilization, and unpredictable conditions. Traveled mostly by truckers, the James Dalton Highway has been the setting of many an accident due to hazards that are hard to be seen by the naked eye in the dead of winter. Truckers can get stuck, become easily disoriented, and lose their way quite easily if a storm whips up.
9 In The US: Route 200, Hawaii
Route 200 is a road that's very well-known in Hawaii. While it's not one of the most dangerous, it's plenty nerve-wracking with its narrow lane and hazardous mountain conditions. Most rental companies refuse to allow their cars passage along this route to Hana, as it's not uncommon for landslides to happen in this vicinity. It also runs along the coast, making for a hair-raising travel -- Although you'll be rewarded with breathtaking tropical views as well as access to some of Hawaii's coolest features.
8 In The US: State Highway 82, Colorado
Colorado is known for being absolutely stunning with its high-altitude summits and incredible snow-capped mountain ranges. Highway 82 cuts through all of that and while it's not nearly as hairpin-crazy as some European stretches of road, it does have its occasional switchbacks. Drivers should be alert and aware as there aren't many places to pull off here to enjoy the views. It's easy to become distracted but it's a gorgeous trip through Colorado's best scenery.
7 In The US: Skyline Drive, Virginia
Running along the top of some of the highest mountains in Virginia, Skyline Drive is famed for its ability to cascade through the Blue Ridge and offer views like none other in the state. Elevations vary as you make your way to the top and it's not a drive you'll want to lose focus during. The road is slightly narrow and has only a guardrail separating you from the various drops along with this scenic vista, but there are pull-off sites where you can take in the beauty of these blue-tinted mountains. It's helpful to take a break in driving as well since this isn't the shortest mountain pass.
6 In The US: Smugglers' Notch, Vermont
Vermont is known for being a winter haven for many a snow-sport enthusiast but for those who live there year-round, they're quite familiar with the allure of Smuggler's Notch. Perhaps one of the most scenic roads in the entire state, the Notch is no stranger to switchbacks filled with the occasional random boulder hugging the side. You'll crest over stunning views of the Green Mountains that can only be found in Stowe but be wary of other cars that need to pass. In the winter, this road is closed down rather early to avoid drivers changing the harsh New England winter to get between towns.