What Is the Most Dangerous Place?

(Last Updated On: April 5, 2022)

We’ve all been in places that were probably a little too dangerous for our pay-grade before. Honestly, just being in a car is one of the most dangerous things you do regularly. There’s also that time you probably wandered around in the woods alone as a kid because why not, only to realize like ten years later that like… coyotes would hang around that area. But some places are notoriously dangerous, and if you’re not adequately prepared you’re going to have a bad time. But hey, you can definitely visit any of these places–once. So what is the most dangerous place?

Also, some ground rules. We’re going to stick to Earth, because then this list would just be like “the Sun” or “a black hole” and while those technically are up there on the dangerous scale, it’s not that interesting.

1. North Yungas Road

Located in Bolivia, the Yungas road is about 43 miles (69 km) long and stretches from La Paz to Corioco. Along the route is an altitude change of around 11,360 feet, which means those on the road will get to be smacked in the face with both high altitude chills and humid rainforests all at once. With 10 foot hairpin turns, lots of vehicles have found themselves just… thrown off the sheer cliffs of North Yungas Road. 

So you’ve got single track roads, almost 3,000 foot cliffs, slick weather, fog, and no guardrails until the late 2000s, this road is definitely way worse than that two-way-two-lane-highway you felt weird about when you realized there were no streetlights.

Around 1994, it was estimated that 200-300 drivers were killed yearly on Yungas Road by virtue of being flung off cliffs–at a rate of around one car per two weeks. 

2. The Gates of Hell

Well… with a name like that it certainly had to make the list, right? In the Karakum desert of Turkmenistan, there’s a 230 foot diameter, 98 feet deep hole in the ground that has been on fire for more than 50 years. One of the most popular stories for the origins of the Gates of Hell is tied to a bunch of Soviet geologists. Allegedly they set it on fire in 1971 to keep methane gas from spreading, and it’s thought that the Gates of Hell never stopped burning. 

3. Death Valley

Pushing 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) in 2020, California’s Death Valley is always pushing the temperature barriers. With only 2.4 inches of rain yearly, Death Valley sits well below the 10 inch average other deserts are able to pull in. 280 feet below sea level, Death Valley is also literally an oven. 

Further Reading: Why Is it Called Death Valley? What Makes it so Hot?

4. The Challenger Deep

If you suffer from thalassophobia, you probably already stay super far away from the ocean. You’re definitely not going to let yourself get anywhere near the Challenger Deep, which is 6.8 miles (11 km) deep. That’s deeper than Mount Everest is tall, and is so deep that we’ve sent less people down to the Challenger Deep than we have up to the Moon.

Water pressure is around eight tons per square inch, which would be like if we were to put the weight of 48 Boeing 747 jets on top of you. Then we also had force crush you from all directions at once. 

We did find a plastic bag at the bottom of the Challenger Deep

Which is… really, really depressing. 

5. The Elephant’s Foot

Artur Korneyev, Deputy Director of Shelter Object, viewing the “elephants foot” lava flow at Chernobyl, 1996.

Well sitting right under the foot of an elephant seems like an all-around bad idea, but the Elephant’s Foot will probably be a substantially worse time. This thing is a huge hunk of mostly corium left behind by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and it’s super radioactive. Even now, you could probably only stand near it for a couple seconds before the radiation got to you, and only a few minutes before you’ve already hit a lethal dose. The Elephant’s Foot is made of the remains of Chernobyl Reactor No. 4, and burned its way through almost seven feet of reinforced concrete. When it first formed, going anywhere near the Elephant’s Foot would have been like getting slammed with 45,000 chest x-rays at the same time. 

Decades later, the Elephant’s Foot is still hot. The ambient temperature in its room is hotter than the space around it thanks to how radioactive it still is. 

6. The Demon Core

You thought we were done with Hell and demon imagery? Well we weren’t, because the Demon Core is a 14 pound ball of plutonium that the US created during WWII as a part of the Manhattan Project.

Originally, the Demon Core was intended to be a third nuclear warhead to be dropped on Japan (as if two weren’t enough), though Japan surrendered before the Demon Core was used inside of a warhead and deployed. Even though it was repurposed for testing, the Demon Core was accidentally placed in supercritical configurations multiple times, and these incidents resulted in the deaths of two scientists (Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin). These events gace the Demon Core its name. 

Experiments on the Demon Core conducted by Slotin were both brash and dangerous, in blue jeans and cowboy boots Slotin attempted to close the Demon Core in a beryllium sphere (by using two pieces)–an experiment he had done multiple times without failsafe spacers. No, instead Slotin would handle materials with his bare hands and a flathead screwdriver. Which was a problem, because if the two beryllium pieces touched there would be a big problem. 

But one day, Slotin’s hand slipped. Along with the seven observers working with him, Slotin was exposed to an extremely high dose of ionizing radiation. It’s said that Slotin immediately told his coworkers to mark where they were standing with chalk–knowing exactly where they were standing in relation to the Demon Core would mean that Slotin could calculate exactly how much the lives of those around him had been shortened. For Slotin, being right next to the core, though, it was too late. He died nine days later of severe radiation poisoning. 

The Demon Core would be melted down by the Los Alamos laboratory in 1946 and recycled into another warhead. 


Speaking of dangerous places, see if you know dangerous jobs here.

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About Kyler 727 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.