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10 Toughest Tows In America - Top Ten List

We Find The Nation's Scariest Grades And Its Most Challenging Passes

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To coincide with this month's towing theme, we're exploring a question that has always intrigued us: Where are the toughest places to tow in America? Of the more than 4 million miles of paved roads in the United States, there are hundreds of places across the country that can challenge even the best drivers and push the trucks they choose to tow with to their absolute limit-but we've set out to identify the top ten.

What Makes A Tough Tow?
Whether it be a sharp 6 percent uphill grade (the maximum allowed on U.S. interstates-with certain exceptions in mountainous regions), a snowy, winding, heads-up stretch of highway in the mountains, or a long, drawn-out pass continuing on mile after mile in the desert heat, we've narrowed it down to the ten toughest tows found along our nation's highways.

We've picked the brains of former OE engineers, over-the-road truckers, and even sought out opinions from readers just like you to make this story possible. In fact, we'd like to hear even more of your towing stories, and read your top ten lists. If you've got a white-knuckle tale to tell, an interesting photo to share, or a death-defying towing route you run, shoot us an email at:


The Black Mountain pass begins at the eastern end of lengthy I-40, just three miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Located in the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains, the pass spans 15 miles east before subsiding (somewhat) after the town of Black Mountain. It's unknown what the actual grade is, but locals claim it's definitely steeper than 6 percent and that the pass is also chock-full of winding turns that often catch drivers off guard.


Along the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains in Southeast Tennessee, the Monteagle Grade is known for its exceptionally curvy, 6 percent downhill grade-and for being a braking nightmare. The grade spans just seven miles along I-24 but can give braking systems a serious workout and surprise unprepared drivers. In fact, all tractor- trailer operators are advised to stop at the brake inspection station located approximately two miles before the downgrade begins. Unpredictable weather patterns often shut down this stretch of Interstate as well, and traffic is re-routed to nearby U.S. Highway 41.

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Chris Kentrus
Chris Kentrus

Grapevine and Black mountain are nothing compared to Donner Pass. 30 miles@ 5-6% running WOT. Than add winter. Left many a clutch from my KW.


I drove over Wolfe Creek Pass, 10870 feet in July of 1973 in a 69 Ford Motorhome, with a 390 towing a datsun pickup with my 350 Honda in the bed. This is July mind you, road construction going on, and it's sleeting. We followed an earthmover going up the road with a load and it was very entertaining to watch him lose traction and have the back end start fishtailing from side to side at about 25 mph. Makes for a very high pucker factor.