World's Scariest Bridges

looking up at a rigid straight bridge hangs between two mountains
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Rotting wooden planks, held aloft by rusty bits of wire, stretch out in front of you. You reach for a railing to steady yourself but all you find are two threadbare ropes. The howling wind blows the rickety footbridge from side to side. Somewhere below you lies the forest floor — you don't even know how far.

All bridges serve a purpose, whether utilitarian or inspirational, but some of them, like Musou Tsuribashi — this shaky, 50-year-old crossing in southern Japan — add a distinct element of fear. You don't have to be in a remote part of the world either; scary bridges exist everywhere, in all shapes, sizes, and heights. And crossing over them can be the ultimate in adventure travel.

Surprisingly, not all of these bridges are old and dilapidated. Take the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas. The wind here can reach speeds of 30 mph, leading to white-knuckled drives across its five-mile-long span. It can be so scary that some people simply won't go. So the Mackinac Bridge Authority will drive your car for you for a $10 fee plus the toll (it was a free service prior to the pandemic, however).

Is this an irrational fear? Not necessarily. Gephyrophobia — the fear of bridges — is an accepted psychological diagnosis. Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz, founder of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, told The New York Times that the fear of crossing bridges is very common, if not as well known as, say, the fear of flying. It also carries a stigma, says Liebowitz, even though bridges have been known to collapse, like the interstate highway bridge in downtown Minneapolis in 2007.

Unlike those who suffer from gephyrophobia, many courageous (or foolhardy) travelers seek out hair-raising bridges just for the thrill. The bridges along the route to Colombia's National Archeological Park of Tierradentro are a good example. Though there are safer routes via bus from La Plata, some thrill-seekers choose to ride motorcycles over slippery bamboo crossings deep in the mountains, where one wrong move could mean plunging into a turbulent river.

Get ready to face your fears — or maybe find your next adventure — with our list of the world's most petrifying bridges.

01 of 18

Aiguille du Midi Bridge, France

Aiguille du Midi Bridge, Mont Blanc Mountain Range, France
Robert Harding Picture Library Ltd / Alamy

Don't look down. At this height — a whopping 12,605 feet — you'll want to keep your eyes locked on the panorama of the craggy French Alps. Fortunately, the bridge itself is short, making for an easy escape if acrophobia sets in. Those who are truly afraid of heights probably won't even see the bridge, as getting here requires taking a cable car that climbs 9,200 vertical feet in just 20 minutes.

Where: The summit of Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc massif, near Chamonix.

Stats: 12,605 feet above sea level.

02 of 18

Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado

Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado
Peggy Gair

America's highest suspension bridge may be breathtaking for some, but those scared of heights may be left gasping for air as they stare straight down nearly 90 stories at the Arkansas River below. Completed in 1929, the bridge didn't have stabilizing wind cables until 1982.

Where: Royal Gorge, Colorado, over the Arkansas River.

Stats: 955 feet above the gorge; 1,260 feet long.

03 of 18

Trift Suspension Bridge, Switzerland

Trift Bridge, Switzerland
Prisma/Gerth Roland / Alamy

One of the Alps' longest and highest pedestrian suspension bridges, Trift was built in 2004 to reconnect hikers to a hut made inaccessible by a retreating glacier. A replacement in 2009 gave this bridge higher handrails and stabilizing cables to prevent it from swinging violently in the wind. But it still provides an adrenaline rush.

Where: Trift Glacier, near the town of Gadmen in the Swiss Alps.

Stats: 328 feet high; 560 feet long.

04 of 18

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy

First things first: only one person has ever fallen off this bridge and he lived to tell the tale. However, many visitors who walk across simply can't handle the return and have to go back by boat. It used to be even scarier. Erected by fishermen who went to the island to catch salmon, the original bridge had only a single handrail. The rope bridge eventually became popular with tourists seeking a thrill, and the National Trust replaced it with a sturdier structure with two handrails.

Where: Near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Stats: 66 feet long; 98 feet above the rocks below.

05 of 18

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Canada

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, Canada
Agencja Fotograficzna Caro / Alamy

Originally built in 1889, this simple suspension footbridge surrounded by an evergreen forest is very high, fairly narrow, and extremely shaky — the cedar planks bounce on their steel cables as you walk across them. If the bridge doesn't scare you, the Cliffwalk attraction, which opened in spring 2011, allows visitors to climb across a series of suspended walkways attached to a cliff.

Where: North Vancouver, British Columbia, across the Capilano River.

Stats: 450 feet long; 230 feet high.

06 of 18

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan
David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc. / Alamy

Some drivers get so nervous about crossing this five-mile-long bridge that they don't even go — it's something that happens so often the Mackinac Bridge Authority will drive your car or motorcycle for you (for a $10 fee in addition to the toll, though this service was free in pre-pandemic times). The biggest fear is caused by the wind, which often exceeds 30 miles per hour on the bridge.

Where: Between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Stats: 5 miles long; 155 feet above the water.

07 of 18

Puente de Ojuela, Mexico

Puente de Ojuela, Mapimi, Mexico
Mario Valenzuela

While this particular bridge leads to a ghost town, it's the squeaky wooden floor that makes it scary. Fortunately, steel cables suspended from two towers bring a greater feeling of safety. Still, the steel is a relatively recent addition: when German engineer Santiago Minhguin built this bridge in the 19th century, those towers were made of wood.

Where: The ghost town of Ojuela, an old mining settlement in the northern state of Durango, Mexico.

Stats: 1,030 feet long; 2 feet wide; 327 feet above a gorge.

08 of 18

William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge (Bay Bridge), Maryland

Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Maryland
Scott Smith/Corbis

Drivers are notoriously afraid of this bridge, as it's subjected to frequent — and often violent — storms. When the bad weather hits, forget about visibility: get to the middle of this 4.3-mile-long bridge and you can barely see land.

Where: Spanning Chesapeake Bay to connect Maryland's eastern and western shores.

Stats: 4.3 miles long; 186 feet high at its highest point.

09 of 18

Monkey Bridges, Vietnam

Monkey Bridges, Vietnam
Christopher Buchanan

It may seem like only monkeys could make it across these traditional monkey bridges — after all, they're typically made of a single bamboo log and one handrail. The name actually comes from the stooped monkey-like posture you'll have to maintain when crossing, so as not to plunge into the river below.

Where: Various points across the Mekong Delta at the southern tip of Vietnam.

Stats: These bridges are built by hand by local residents and vary from town to town. Newer ones are made of concrete.

10 of 18

Hussaini Hanging Bridge, Pakistan

Hussaini Hanging Bridge, Hussaini, Pakistan
Jonathan Blair/Corbis

Massive gaps between the planks, a wild side-to-side swing; there are reasons why this is considered to be one of the world's most harrowing suspension bridges. While rickety cable and wood bridges are common in this area, crossing this bridge over the rapidly flowing Hunza River is particularly frightening, as the tattered remains of the previous bridge hang by threads next to the one currently in use.

Where: In the village of Hussaini in Northern Pakistan, crossing the Hunza River.

Stats: 660 feet long, hanging just 100 feet above the raging river.

11 of 18

Seven Mile Bridge, Florida

201009-w-bridges-seven-mile
Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

Besides being seven miles long, the bridge itself doesn't seem that scary, but its position in the Florida Keys makes it a prime target for the region's many hurricanes. The newest version of the bridge scrapped the swing span concept of the original in lieu of a sturdier 65-foot-high arch to allow boats to pass by. While it may be sturdier, we still wouldn't want to be on it during a storm.

Where: The Florida Keys, connecting the Middle and Lower Keys.

Stats: 7 miles long; 65 feet high.

12 of 18

U Bein Bridge, Myanmar

201009-w-bridges-ubein
Juergen Ritterbach / Alamy

With no handrails, you'll want to be extra careful crossing this bridge, especially in the dry season when there's no lake below to soften the fall. It's not exactly brand-new; this 3/4-mile-long teak bridge was built more than 200 years ago. Over 1,000 wooden posts (read: logs) — with roughly four or five feet between each — hold it up.

Where: In Mandalay, connecting opposite banks of Taungthaman Lake

Stats: 3/4 miles long; 15 feet high.

13 of 18

Deception Pass Bridge, Washington

201009-w-bridges-deception
imagebroker / Alamy

If the drive over this foggy strait in the Puget Sound isn't particularly scary to you, try walking over the narrow pedestrian lane at the edge of the bridge. That's where you'll find especially hair-raising views of the rushing water directly below.

Where: Connecting Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island, in Deception Pass State Park.

Stats: Combined, the two spans are 1,487 feet in length; 180 feet above the water.

14 of 18

Iya Valley Vine Bridges, Japan

201009-w-bridges-iya-valley
GYRO PHOTOGRAPHY/amanaimages/Corbis

Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, is home to three vine bridges. The originals were built with slats of wood placed between 7 and 12 inches apart, secured in place with two single vines. While the new bridges are reinforced with wire and hand rails, they're still not for the faint of heart.

Where: Tokushima, over the Iya-gawa River

Stats: 147 feet long; 46 feet high.

15 of 18

Captain William Moore Bridge, Alaska

201009-w-bridges-william-moore
Ron Niebrugge / Alamy

True, earthquakes don't happen all the time, but this bridge isn't where you want to be during one: it crosses an active earthquake fault. Engineers, aware of the potential for disaster, anchored only one end of the bridge securely, so when the ground below shifts, the bridge isn't torn apart.

Where: Along the South Klondike Highway near Skagway

Stats: 300-foot-long cantilever bridge, at about 106 feet over the gorge, was finished in 1976

16 of 18

Canopy Walk, Ghana

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A M Seward / Alamy

These footbridges soar above the forest floor in Ghana's Kakum National Park. Sure, there are hand rails and net walls that rise up on either side of you — about three-and-a-half to four feet high, anyway — but you're still walking on a plank of wood no more than one foot wide. Oh yes, and you're 130 feet off the forest floor.

Where: Kakum National Park

Stats: 1,080 feet long; 130 feet high.

17 of 18

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana

201009-w-bridges-pontchartrain
Robert Holmes/CORBIS

This bridge rises just 16 feet above the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, but the real fear factor is that it never seems to end — it spans nearly 24 miles from Metairie to Mandeville, LA. (Once you reach roughly the eight-mile mark, say goodbye to land visibility.)

Where: Across Lake Pontchartrain between the towns of Metairie and Mandeville.

Stats: 24 miles long; 16 feet above water.

18 of 18

Millau Viaduct, France

Millau Viaduct, Millau, France
1Apix / Alamy

Looking down on clouds is to be expected from an airplane, but it's a bit more unsettling in a car. Yet that's often the sight when driving across this bridge, which is taller than the Eiffel Tower at its highest point. In fact, when it opened in 2004, it claimed the title of the world's tallest vehicular bridge — and it still is.

Where: Crossing the Tarn Valley, near Millau in southern France.

Stats: 1.5 miles long; 1,125 feet from the valley floor to the peak of its tallest mast.

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