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Highest road crossings in Europe

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Joel Fulleda
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"Up here I don't live in me, but I become a part of what surrounds me. The high mountains are a feeling for me" (Lord Byron).

Today we will go, with you, to discover the highest roads in Europe. Where are? How tall are they? Are they passable? If so, at what time of the year?

It is, first of all, important to know the difference between pass and pass: the first is the lowest point between two mountains which helps the transition from one side to the other; when this pass is at much higher and more difficult points it is called a pass.

Unfortunately, that's enough impossible to create a fixed ranking as the roads are continually modified by building revisions or changes due to the weather, however we will be delighted to accept any advice or updates on this from you. Just leave a comment at the bottom of the article!



What is the highest road in Europe?

Obviously drawing up an official and unique ranking is rather difficult in how many the steps are very often subject to change due to renovations or climatic conditions.
Some are only trafficable by military vehicles, others not viable with any motorized alleyway and others even closed to the public because in the absence of paths.

But let's try to understand, in broad terms, which are the highest, between passes and roads, in each category. Here is a list:

  • Highest pass: Pico del Veleta, Spain, 3.367mt
  • Highest passable pass: Col du Jandri, France, 3.151mt
  • Highest passable asphalted pass: Colle dell'Iseran, France, 2.770
  • Asphalt road open to higher traffic: Ötztaler Gletscherstrasse, Austria, 2.829mt
  • Asphalt road with vehicular outlet open to higher traffic: Colle della Bonette, France, 2.802mt

Below we list the Top 10 of the highest roads in Europe, classified EXCLUSIVELY according to their altitude, and we give you how many pills of updated information to better organize your next excursions.



10 - Colle della Bonette, France, 2.802mt

Alpine pass of the Maritime Alps, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
From the hill starts a road that culminates at the top and makes the so-called tour of the Cima della Bonette, considered by many to be the highest asphalted road in all the Alps.
The Tour de France has often passed through the Colle: the hardest but shortest side is the one north from Jausier, the simpler but very long one is the south side.

9 - Monte Jafferau, Italy, 2805mt

Military road built in the Alta Val di Susa in the th century to connect some fortresses with a carriage road that passes under Monte Seguret through the Seguret Gallery.
Currently the road it is paved up to Moncellier di Sopra, after the fraction begins the dirt road but in good practicability conditions. After Pramand the journey it becomes narrow and difficult and in the presence of an overhang very obvious.
In July 2013, the Seguret Galleries was closed to traffic due to the danger of collapse but in the meantime the municipality of Bardonecchia has arranged for the road that leads to the ski lifts. Other works followed in the following years and from 2019 the Gallery is officially reopened to traffic.

8 - Ötztaler Gletscherstrasse, Austria, 2.829mt

Alpine toll road which connects the Austrian city of Sölden to the ski areas at the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers.
Due to the presence of perennial glaciers, the paved road and easy to travel it is only open in the summer months; in winter it is possible to reach the lifts only by cable cars.
The Tour it is divided into two parts: the first, the one that goes from Sölden to Rettenbach, is 13 kilometers long; the second is about 3 kilometers long, for a total of 16 kilometers. In this second stretch much of the route takes place thanks to the Rosi Mitter Meier tunnel which represents the highest tunnel in Europe open to vehicular traffic.



7 - Torre del Filosofo, Italy, 2.915mt

Pass of the famous Etna Volcano, in Sicily, which until a few years ago also presented a refuge with the same name.
He was inspired by Empedocles, the Sicilian philosopher and politician who lived here and who studied eruptive phenomena.
To reach it you have to get to the Sapienza Refuge and take the track to the summit craters; then go up with the cable car up to 2.500mt. Then with a tour by jeep you take the road up to 2.900mt. It is possible to do the trail on foot but we still recommend rely on agencies with expert guides and prepared for any eventuality.

6 - Mount Malamot, France, 2.917mt

Military road built in Val di Susa to connect the Varisello fort to the Malamot defensive barracks via a carriage road that can also be traveled by motorized vehicles.
After construction work in the twentieth century, the road was classified as "carriage for simple traffic".

Currently the road it is open to vehicular traffic up to a crossroads with the military road, beyond this point you will find a wooden bar that forbids entry to motor vehicles.
From here it is possible continue only by bicycle (only for the very experienced as some points are really steep and bumpy) or on foot.
Let us also remember that the road is under French sovereignty and it is completely free of any maintenance work, especially in the last high mountain section.


5 - Pic de Chateaurenard, France, 2.930mt

Alpine pass located in the heart of the natural region of Queyras and borders the municipality of Saint Veràn to the southwest and the municipality of Molines-En-Queyras to the northeast.
Is situated 5km from the Italian border, 20km from Guillestre, 31km from Brianςon and 40km from Barcellonette.
It dominates the valley of the torrent de l'Aigue Agnelle 900mt high to the north-east, the Aigue Blanche valley at 1000mt to the south-west and the village of Saint Veran to the west. Along the same ridge, the summit dominates Colle di Longet to the southeast and Cima di Combe Cross to the northwest.
An observatory was built in the 70s on the mountainside at an altitude of 2936m. This is the highest European observatory and is mainly intended for amateur astronomy.


4 - Colle del Sommeiller, Italy-France, 2.993mt

Alpine pass of the Cottian Alps, on the border between Italy and France, connecting the city of Bardonecchia (Turin) to the town of Bramans in the French department of Savoy.
Access from the Italian side starts from Bardonecchia with an asphalted road to Rochemolles and then a dirt road to Colle.
It is the highest road in the entire chain of the Alps as once it was possible to reach the top at 3.009mt, now it can be reached up to 2.991mt, as a barrier was placed at the end of the parking lot.
In general, from Rifugio Scarfiotti to the hill, lThe whole road is unpaved and not easy to pass and it can be crossed entirely from May to November; to pass the refuge, from 2017, there is a toll of a few euros to be paid locally.
It is open every day of the week except Thursday and the only way to access it is via the Italian side.

3 - Chaberton, Italy-France, 3.131mt

Military road built in the nineteenth century in the Alta Val di Susa to provide the fortress "Battery of Chaberton" with a carriage road.
Currently the road it is paved up to Fenils, after which a fairly practicable dirt road begins up to Grange Pra Claud and from this point the ban on any motorized lane is denied.
Beyond the Grange Quagliet the road becomes even more bumpy, accessible only by very experienced cyclists.
Since July 2019, after a heavy downpour, the passage has completely collapsed up to the Rio dell'Inferno and therefore, in that stretch a few hundred meters long, there is also a ban on pedestrians.

2 - Col du Jandri, France, 3.151mt

Alpine pass which culminates at 3.151mt above sea level. It is located in the Massif des Ecrins. It is accessible by the very famous ski lifts in Les Deux Alps, stormed every winter by tourists and sportsmen. From here starts the dirt road that leads to the top of the Col du Jandri, in summer it is also full of cyclists who try to climb every year.
The road is accessible but be careful, in some points it is uneven and has real craters, especially over 2.300mt.
After 3.000m the road improves but we still recommend the utmost attention. If you want to stop for a breathtaking view, we recommend the Plateau d'Emparis, a magnificent natural balcony.
In all, the road has an overall difference in height of 1.461mt in 12km, about 12% of average gradient.

1 - Pico de Veleta, Spain, 3.367mt

Highest street in Europe on the mountain of the same name belonging to the Sierra Nevada, in Andalusia.
To reach the summit it is possible to take the A-395 starting from Granada which is very well connected to the Sierra Nevada as the latter it is a very popular destination for sports enthusiasts on the snow.

The road, however, naturally becomes increasingly narrow and tiring as the altitude increases. The arrival at the square immediately below the Pico de Veleta (only 25 meters in altitude), allows us to reach the highest point that we can reach by motorbike. In the car instead we will have to stop first.

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