Places that don’t quite live up to Department of Transportation standards.
Roads have always been humanity’s way to tame nature by eliminating obstacles that get in the way of going from A to B. But what happens when nature strikes back? It seems that everywhere you go there’s one angry citizen who claims their city has the worst drivers and most pothole infested roads, but chances are they haven’t got a clue about the roads that made this list. Here is what happens when the wilderness remains untamable and something as simple as a jerk of the steering wheel becomes a life or death matter.
Most mountain roads are carved out of the steep rocky face of the earth using dynamite, but that was off the table for the villagers of the remote Chinese town called Guoliang. In 1972, 13 villagers from the town sold their livestock to raise funds for road-building material. Those tools ended up being little more than hammers and chisels, and as you can imagine, progress was slow. The Guoliang Tunnel is only three quarters of a mile long but took five years to build. Locals say that traversing the road requires monk-like focus due to small missteps having grave consequences. This isn’t a road meant for high-speed hill climbs. Two cars passing by in opposite lanes require slow calculated maneuvers to pass each other in a way that preserves life.
Not only is the James Dalton Highway one of the more dangerous roads that the (barley) civilized Alaskan frontier has to offer, but it is also one of the loneliest. Three towns are stationed along this road with the total population between all three resting at 60. Truckers traveling the 414 miles between Fairbanks, Alaska and ending near the Arctic Ocean have to put up with icy roads, intense winds, semi truck-sized potholes, and -80° Fahrenheit cold. If you want to traverse this road for shits and gigless (because some people have an outright disregard for their lives), then know that the travel advisory for this road includes a recommendation to bring survival gear because things can get hairy quickly.
The Atlantic Road in Norway is the only paved road on this list, so how can it be so dangerous? Well the clever people who named the road failed to mention that the road might as well be in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also a road that can lure in unsuspecting drivers with some of the most beautiful views in the world. Just when you think it’s a great time for a sunny drive, the weather can change without warning. With 30 mph+ winds and waves constantly crashing over the skinny road, it isn’t hard to have your car swept away into the ocean. Suspiciously tall bridges mark areas where the deadly ocean likes to reach up and snag cars. The worst part? Unlike some of the other roads on this list, the dangerous waves strike without warning.
The road traversing the Himalayas in South Asia is not for the average tourist. This is the kind of road where Chuck Norris learned to drive, so typical tourists include thrill seekers who wouldn’t mind climbing into a bear pen for a dare. A fun fact about this road is that it's one of the highest drivable roads in the world. So you would be rational to think that there’d be plenty of guardrails and passing space right? Nope, not a single guardrail can be seen and if there was one, it likely fell off the mountain. As for width, the road is so narrow that motorcycles have a hard time passing through. Hiking through the road is likely a more pleasant undertaking because who wants to drive less than one mph while playing chess with loose rocks and oncoming tour buses?
Life is hard in Bolivia. Not only is the tiny country the poorest nation in South America, but it is home to the most dangerous road in the world. The Yungas Road, also known as Death Road, is one where drivers need to take precautions. Usually drivers in Bolivia drive on the right side of the road, but on the Yungas road, the left side is the way to go if you want to see all of the dangers ahead. It was once estimated that between 200-300 people died crossing this road per year, an average of 2-6 people per week. Of course, the road is barley wide enough for a single car, but many times traffic comes in either direction. You may as well pack a parachute if you want to travel across safely.