Extreme Travel

For daring drivers only: The world's scariest roads

Maybe someday, Doc Brown will be right. Maybe we won’t need roads. But until we all get a flying DeLorean, we’re going to be using them in our travels, and often they’re a big part of the fun.

For some, that fun requires trying not to die when you’re driving said roads. If you just can’t feel satisfied without navigating hairpin turns, dizzying elevations, and gravel surfaces with no guardrails to protect you, we’ve got you covered with this bucket list of freaky routes.

Some of these are highly traveled destination roads, some get very little traffic, and others are obscure to most drivers. But if you can patiently and carefully handle them in the proper vehicle, you’ll be rewarded with some tasty visual treats, plus access to unique mountain-climbing and cycling adventures.

We’d tell you to buckle up, but we’re not sure how much that will help you here:

  • 1. Lippincott Mine Road - Death Valley National Park, Calif

    Lippincott Mine Road - Death Valley National Park, Calif

    Greg Keraghosian

    This little-used 7-mile route in and out of the park near the famous Racetrack Playa really puts the “Death” in Death Valley. It’s a faster route to the park than others, but you might be clenching your jaw the whole way trying not to fall hundreds of feet to oblivion, and it’s not for the casual driver or the casual car. This is four-wheel drive territory only.

    My friend Doug did the honor of driving us out of Death Valley via Lippincott at the end of our camping trip last fall, and by the time we had slowly descended the almost-2,000-foot drop, I felt like the park had chewed us up and spat us out into Saline Valley.

  • 2. Trollstigen Mountain Road, Norway

    Trollstigen Mountain Road, Norway

    Greg Keraghosian)

    As dangerous roads go, this is among the most visited in the world, and for good reason: It overlooks a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Geirangerfjord on the west coast of Norway. I’d like to say that I gave death a noogie as I raced this road’s 11 hairpin turns and 9 percent incline in an Alfa Romeo, but in fact, I slowly weaved through it on a large tour bus. Next time, I swear.

    Dangerous conditions here include the incline, narrow driving space, and the poor traction and visibility that come with rain and fog. But oh man, those views: There are ideal photography opportunities where you can pull over and capture the fjords and lush valleys below, and waterfalls so close you can touch them.

    Note: The road closes in October and opens in May.

  • 3. Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

    Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

    AP Photo

    Paradise is worth the risk, which is why the 42 miles of Highway 360 to Hana in eastern Maui are such a tourist favorite. You’ll have to navigate through and around 600 hairpin turns, 54 one-lane bridges, steep cliff drops, falling rocks, and even some confusing mile markers that reset. Plus it rains often, so there’s that.

    But the rewards for your risk are considerable: You probably won’t have time for them all, in fact. The road itself is full of pull-over-right-now photography opportunities, but venture deeper and you’ll find such rare beauties as Wai’anapanapa State Park’s black sand beach, Twin Falls, Wailua Falls, and the laid-back charm of Paia Town.

  • 4. Los Caracoles Pass, Chile

    Los Caracoles Pass, Chile

    Rodolfo Pace/Flickr

    If you impressed yourself by driving down the curves of Lombard Street in San Francisco, this is just like that, only 1,000 times more challenging. Called the “Snails Pass” by locals, this serpentine mountain pass in the Andes connects Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, Argentina. It reaches 10,499 feet in elevation, and this being in the Andes, it’s known for getting heavy snowfall: About 15,000 travelers were stranded for 10 hours on the Argentine side in 2013, when the road had to be closed because of snow and cold.

    When you reach the summit of this road, you’ll pass through the Cristo Redentor tunnel, and the heaviest, steepest switchbacks are on the Chilean side. You may need tire chains and plenty of patience to make it through here, but if you take your time, you should be able to avoid an accident.

    Bayburt Of Yolu-D915, Turkey
    image

    A frightening section of the D915. (Photo: Courtesy of Dangerousroads.org)

    We’re saving our most obscure road for last, though it’s arguably more dangerous than any other on this list. The D915 connects the Turkish cities of Bayburt and Of, near the Black Sea, and it spans 66 miles. It has many of the same hazards of the Death Road in Bolivia: It’s only a lane wide in some sections and unpaved, with elevation exceeding 6,500 feet and no guardrails protecting you from certain death. The often-poor weather adds to the danger.

    Says the website Dangerousroads.org, “Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice … the steep part is simply terrible. Curvy roads descending down the cliffs, often so narrow that you cannot turn the first time.”

    There are 29 hairpins turns, and things get gnarly in Çaykara, where the road climbs from 5,616 feet to 6,676 feet in just 3.1 miles, with 13 hairpin turns.

    Let Yahoo Travel inspire you every day. Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Watch Yahoo Travel’s new original series, “A Broad Abroad.”

  • 5. Bayburt Of Yolu-D915, Turkey

    Bayburt Of Yolu-D915, Turkey

    Courtesy of Dangerousroads.org

    We’re saving our most obscure road for last, though it’s arguably more dangerous than any other on this list. The D915 connects the Turkish cities of Bayburt and Of, near the Black Sea, and it spans 66 miles. It has many of the same hazards of the Death Road in Bolivia: It’s only a lane wide in some sections and unpaved, with elevation exceeding 6,500 feet and no guardrails protecting you from certain death. The often-poor weather adds to the danger.

    Says the website Dangerousroads.org, “Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice … the steep part is simply terrible. Curvy roads descending down the cliffs, often so narrow that you cannot turn the first time.”

    There are 29 hairpins turns, and things get gnarly in Çaykara, where the road climbs from 5,616 feet to 6,676 feet in just 3.1 miles, with 13 hairpin turns.

    Buckle up for a trip down more of the world's most dangerous roads.

    More from Yahoo! Travel

    The Smartest Ways to Avoid Travel Burnout

    What it Looks Like When a Plane is Struck By Lightning

    Confessions of a Cruise Writer: 7 Things I Hate About Cruising