25 Scenic Mountain Passes That Will Take Your Breath Away

Posted by , Updated on January 15, 2024

In purely technical terms, a pass is the highest point on the lowest possible route through a mountain range or over a ridge. In many places they are known as gaps, saddles, or cols, and since antiquity they have played hugely important roles in war, migration, and trade. Today, they are one of the best ways to experience the great mountain ranges of the world and to soak in the scenery. These are 25 beautiful mountain passes you should make a point to travel through!


Paso Internacional Los Libertadores (Chile/Argentina)

Paso Internacional Los Libertadores (Chile/Argentina)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Also known as Cristo Redentor, this pass is a major transport route between Santiago, Chile and the Argentinian city of Mendoza. Cars have been known to get stranded here in winter due to unpredictable weather.


Loveland Pass (United States)

Loveland pass (United States)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

A high mountain pass in Colorado, at over 3,600 meters high, this is one of the highest passes that regularly stays open during winter.


Guoliang Tunnel Road (China)

Guoliang Tunnel Road (China)Source: wikipedia, Image: Fang Chen via Flickr

Although not technically fitting the definition of a pass (see introduction), this road is the only access that the village of Guoliang has with the outside world, so in some sense it plays a very similar role.


Furka Pass (Switzerland)

Furka Pass (Switzerland)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

This pass was used as the location for the James Bond movie Goldfinger.


Trollstigen (Norway)

Trollstigen (Norway)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Thanks to a steep incline and numerous hairpin turns this pass is popular with tourists during the summer. Typically, however, busses and longer vehicles are not allowed on the road.


Sani Pass (South Africa/Lesotho)

Sani Pass (South Africa/Lesotho)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

A notoriously dangerous road between the countries of South Africa and Lesotho, 4 wheel drives are required. Along the path you can often find the remains of vehicles that didn’t make it across.


Khardung La (India)

Khardung La (India)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Although many claim that this is the highest navigable mountain pass in the world, that is inaccurate. There are several passes higher, one of which you will see later on this list.


Great St Bernard Pass (Switzerland)

Great St Bernard Pass (Switzerland)Source: wikipedia, Image: Tomislav Medak via Flickr

One of the highest passes in Switzerland, the Great St Bernard Pass is also the oldest. There are even traces of a Roman road still visible.


Red Mountain Pass (United States)

Red Mountain Pass (United States)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Known to be dangerous due to steep inclines, switchbacks (sharp turns), and avalanches, this pass cuts through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.


Urdele Pass (Romania)

Urdele Pass (Romania)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

One of the highest passes in the Carpathian Mountains, this pass is part of the Transalpina or King’s Road.


Khunjerab Pass (Pakistan/China)

Khunjerab Pass (Pakistan/China)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The highest paved border crossing in the world, traffic crosses from driving on the left side of the road (Pakistan) to the right side of the road (China).


Tizi n'Tichka (Morocco)

Tizi n'Tichka (Morocco)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The highest major mountain pass of Africa, this road was constructed by the French military in 1936.


Col de l'Iseran (France)

Col de l'Iseran (France)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Located near the border with Italy, this is the highest paved pass in the Alps.


El Pas de la Casa (Andorra)

El Pas de la Casa (Andorra)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Literally translated to “pass of the house”, it got its name from the lone shepherd’s hut that overlooked its winding turns until the early 1900s.


Thorong La (Nepal)

Thorong La (Nepal)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

One of the highest passes in the world, this pass is used regularly by local traders.


Khyber Pass (Afghanistan/Pakistan)

Khyber Pass (Afghanistan/Pakistan)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

One of the oldest known passes in the world, the Khyber Pass was once part of the Silk Road.


Ticlio (Peru)

Ticlio (Peru)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Located on Peru’s central road, Ticlio is home to the highest railway crossing in the world.


Tioga Pass (United States)

Tioga Pass (United States)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The highest pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, this pass serves as the entrance to Yosemite National Park. It is normally open from June to September due to high snowfall.


Abra del Acay (Argentina)

Abra del Acay (Argentina)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The highest point on Argentina’s National Route 40, this pass is only suitable for all terrain vehicles. Like some of the other passes on this list, oxygen deprivation due to altitude can make the crossing difficult.


Hochtor Pass (Austria)

Hochtor Pass (Austria)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Located on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, this surfaced pass in Austria is also one of the highest in the Alps.


Chungara–Tambo Quemado (Chile/Bolivia)

Chungara–Tambo Quemado (Chile/Bolivia)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

As you can see from the picture, this pass is one of the principal routes between Chile and Bolivia.


Mana Pass (India/Tibet)

Mana Pass (India/Tibet)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

With a new portion constructed by the Indian military, this is now the highest vehicle accessible pass in the world.


Logan Pass (United States)

Logan Pass (United States)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Found in Montana’s Glacier National Park this pass is the highest point on the scenic Going-To-The-Sun-Road.


Col de Turini (France)

Col de Turini (France)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

This mountain pass is famous for a stage of the Monte Carlo Rally that is held on its many hairpin turns.


Stelvio Pass (Italy)

Stelvio Pass (Italy)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The second highest paved mountain pass in the Alps, the Stelvio Pass is famous for its many switchbacks and scenic beauty.