8 adventurous roads to make you hit the brakes

Fancy yourself as a top-notch driver? Ok, ace, how do you think you’d handle these crazy roads?
By Josh Gale

 There’s nothing like a road trip to lift the spirits – beautiful views, restful days, discovering new places. But maybe you’re the sort of strange cookie who finds that a tad boring. You prefer your panoramic views with a few spoons of hair-raising adrenalin.

What makes a road an adventure? Narrow gravel tracks perched precipitously on mountainsides certainly up the ante. As do roads so far away from civilization that taking survival supplies is mandatory. Then there are routes that you must time right, or you’ll wish you’d taken a boat instead.

The road to the Himalayas, Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway © Martin Hanslmayr / Red Bull Content Pool

Karakoram Highway
Where: Pakistan
Altitude: 4,700
Fun fact: Highest paved road in the world

It's the road to paradise – if you like exploring the mountains, that is. It's also the road David Lama took on his way to climb Masherbrum, regarded as one of the world's hardest alpine climbs. Read all about it here.

The road you really don't want to drive off of

Roads for an adventurous drive, Yungas Road, Bolivia
This is one road you don’t want to drive off of! © Andy Koslowski

North Yungas Road
Where: Bolivia
Altitude: 4,650m
Risk: going off the edge

The very good news about this dirt road is that you don’t have to take it. Back in the ’90s before an alternative and safer road was built, it was identified as the most extremely dangerous road in the world. Only thrill-seeking adventurers use it now. The thin road climbs jungle-clad mountains to a height of 4,650m, winding and turning all the while with nauseatingly deep canyons below.

Slide over ice Alaska

Ice, snow, and adventure in Alaska © Patrick Endres / Alaska Photo Graphics

Dalton Highway
Where: Fairbanks, Alaska
Length: 666 km (seriously)
Risk: You need to bring food and survival supplies

Feel like getting away from civilization? Then this is the highway for you. Few roads in the world offer the degree of isolation as The James W. Dalton Highway. Make sure you pack plenty of supplies because there are only three villages along this 666km road through the wilderness. Linking Fairbanks and oil fields to the north, huge trucks are its main traffic. Giving them right of way is one of road rules; the other is taking survival supplies and knowing how to use them.

Shanghai your way through tunnels in China

You get to drive through tunnels and by cliffs © Getty Images/Moment Open

Guoliang Tunnel Road
Where: China
Why it's weird: a mere 4m wide through various tunnels
Risk: tight driving

Probably one the most famous tunnels in the world, the 1.2km long, 4m wide Guoliang Tunnel Road requires monk-like focus to drive. Even one mistake, locals say, means big trouble in little China.

Twist and turn up the Tianmen

Roads for an adventurous drive, Tianmen Mountain, China
There’s just a few curves... © Tom Horton

Tianmen Mountain Road
Where: China
Number of turns: 99
Risk: Did you see the picture?

Located in China’s fantasy world-like Tianmen Mountain National Park, this road has 99 bends as it winds 11km up to an elevation of 1,300m.

Dodge livestock in India

Roads for an adventurous drive in India
You’ve got to avoid cliffs – and livestock! © Blaine Harrington

Zojila Pass
Where: India
Altitude: 3,500m
Risk: altitude, livestock

This strip of rock is not the place for a Sunday drive. It’s better suited to a Mars Rover than any manned vehicle. It’s 9km long, about 3,500m above sea level and provides an important link between Ladakh and Kashmir.

Go ruh-roh on the Rohtang

Not a good place to break down © Getty Images/Moment RM

Rohtang Pass
Where: India
Drivable season: May to November
Risk: landslides

The Rohtang sits at about 4,000m over India. It’s only open from May to November and is so dangerous the Government of India is building an 8.8km tunnel as an alternative.

Take your truck for a swim in France

You might be driving over water © Getty Images / Hemis.fr RM

Passage de Gois
Where: France
Altitude: sometimes a metre below sea level
Risk: does your car have a snorkel?

Pack an inflatable boat for driving this 4.3km road because just say for some crazy reason you mix up the tide times, then – like vehicles in the past – you might disappear beneath the salty brine. Located on France’s Atlantic coast, the road floods twice daily with incoming tides and as the tides go out slippery seaweed is left all over it.

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