10. Karakoram Highway (Pakistan to China)
Sometimes considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, because it was built as high as 15,000 feet above sea level and under very rough conditions, construction on the Karakoram Highway began in 1966 and was completed in 1979, although it wasn’t open to the public until 1986. This dangerous road covers more than 1,300 kilometers and, at least in some places, follows the old Silk Road. Cutting through the most mountainous region in the world, the Karakoram Highway is beset with hazards: rock falls, landslides, avalanches, flooding, snow drifts, reckless drivers, herds of animals, precipitous cliffs and terrible storms. Interestingly, the road meanders though the Hunza Valley, the scene of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, a novel about the mythical Shangri-La, a harmonious place where people live for centuries.9. Logging Road (Europe)
The author doesn’t know where this road is located, perhaps somewhere in Europe; nevertheless, it must be one of the most dangerous roads in existence. Of course, there are many other logging roads throughout the world, many of which are not paved, while others are little more than animal trails. At any rate, if traveling on this road is any indication of what this work entails, then men and women who drive logging trucks deserve pay for hazardous work – that’s for certain!8. Pan American Highway (Alaska to Chile)
The Pan American Highway (PAH) is not entirely dangerous, that is, it’s probably no worse than your average American highway. But in some places, you risk your freedom and even your life by using the PAH as a means of travel. Certainly a dangerous section of the PAH winds through Mexico and Central America, where drug cartel terrorists roam.
And in the Panamanian section of the road, you could encounter FARC rebels, who often take captives and hold them for ransom, sometimes for years, while others never escape their makeshift jungle prisons. Anyway, the PAH is 30,000 miles long and the only broken section of the road is the 60-mile Darién Gap, between Panama and Colombia, where the FARC are even worse. Let’s hope they never complete the highway through there!7. Sichaun-Tibet Highway (China)
This very long highway – 2,028 kilometers in length – connects Chengdu in Sichaun with Lhasa in Tibet, through an area known as Kham. Continuously beset with rockslides and avalanches, the Sichaun-Tibet Highway is a treacherous, switchback-laden highway that winds among towering peaks, some of which over 6,000 meters in elevation, often causing vomit-spewing altitude sickness in travelers.
Along the way, numerous Buddhist monasteries, red-robed Buddhists and herds of yaks can be seen. The road was built between 1950 and 1954 and since then many thousands of people per year have died while traveling on the Sichaun-Tibet Highway.6. James Dalton Highway (Alaska)
Also known as the North Slope Hall Road, the James Dalton Highway is a road used by truckers, especially those who travel to and from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields on the north slope of Alaska. In fact, the road supports the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
The Highway is 414 miles long, paved in places, but about three-fourths of it is not. There are no medical facilities along the road, though three towns exist along the way. It’s advised that anyone traveling the road should bring survival gear. Interestingly, the TV reality show, Ice Road Truckers, has many episodes dramatizing the rigors of traveling on this deadly, primitive road.5. Siberian Road to Yakutsk (Russia)
Travel through Siberia is always a challenge. Nicknamed the “Road of Bones,” the Siberian Road to Yakutsk meanders its way through one of the coldest regions in the world. (The town of Yakutsk is constructed on permafrost.) The road is mostly unpaved (particularly in the north) and is about 760 miles long.
The preferred time to travel on the road is winter, when the ground and water are frozen, making travel somewhat easier. But during July and August, when it tends to rain a lot, the road becomes a monstrous quagmire, leading to traffic jams miles long. Only the most rugged 4X4 vehicles can manage this muddy beast. To make matters even worse, people get so bored during these traffic jams, they’ve been known to rob each other!4. Guoliang Tunnel Road (China)
When the Chinese government decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and expense to make a road that would be used by only 300 villagers, 13 of those villagers decided to build a .8-mile tunnel through the solid rock of a vertical cliff. Located in the Taihang Mountains in the province of Henan, the villagers used explosives to blow their way through this vertiginous cliff. Lacking road-building experience, some villagers died in accidents.