Look Down if You Dare: The World's Scariest Stairs

The Verrückt, Kansas City, KS

The Verrückt, Kansas City, KS

It takes guts just to reach the starting point of the world’s tallest and fastest water slide, which opened July 2014. To get to the top, you’ve got to climb the 264 steps that snake up the slide’s tower in 25 turns. When you’ve summited at 168 feet—that’s one foot taller than Niagara Falls—pat yourself on the back and take a selfie. Then brace yourself for the water slide’s initial 50-foot linear drop, which can reach 65 mph. The only alternative is to turn around and suffer the 17-story walk back down those nauseating steps.

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By Matt Bell

All is right with the world when you’re gazing down from the rooftop of Milan’s Duomo. That is, until you remember the steep marble stairs that got you there—and are your only way down.

Stairways can leave just as much of an impact on your memory as the places they lead you. Some are so eye-catching they look like they belong in an M.C. Escher painting, while other stairs are downright intimidating, especially when they stand between you and a site you flew half way across the world to experience.

Travelers with nerves of steel—and eager for bragging rights—follow these stairs because of what they find at the end, whether a sacred Hindu temple or the top of a spectacular waterfall. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of accomplishment that comes once you’ve taken that last step. Safely, that is.

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