Pehuenche Pass is an international high mountain pass through the Andes, joining Chile and Argentina, at an elevation of 2,553m above the sea level. The pass conects San Clemente and Bardas Blancas. The road to the pass, in the Chilean side, called Ruta Internacional CH115 is paved, and starts in the city of Talca.
This infamous road is tightly hairpinned and bumped, an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. The road includes some steep sections, without market central lines, is very narrow, barely wide enough for 2 cars at the same time and it has not protections or guardrails. The surface of the road is gravel and sand, and chains or snow tyres can be required anytime.
The road's winding design, providing stunning panoramic views, is very curvy and fun for a leisurely ride, so it pays to take it slow. Exercise extreme caution when passing on-coming traffic, over-taking and around corners.
This road is usually open all year, but during winter months, it can be closed when the access is not cleared of snow. In winter, avalanches and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be extremely dangerous in winter due to frequent patches of ice. Conditions can change quickly and be harsh, particularly during winter.
This is a maintained road where a high clearance 2WD vehicle is able to travel safely at low speeds on long dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. All primitve dirt roads may be rocky with areas or soft gravel or sand that makes travel unsafe for sedans or RVs. Some road sections may require a high clearance 4WD vehicle, in four-wheel-drive, driven by a driver experienced in 4WD drive techniques to drive the road without getting stuck.
If you dare take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. Staying on track here takes oodles of concentration. There's sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy.
The road bad conditions, with extremely large pot holes could potentially pop a tire, crack a rim, or screw up your cars allignment. The unpaved sections of the road can be impassable when wet. In any case, driving 4WD is recommended due to uneven surface. During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and can easily get muddy if it rains making it challenging to get through.
Although it can be a reasonably easy drive in favourable conditions it also has the potential to be a very difficult track and at times impassable after wet weather. It is very important to check rainfall in this area before setting off and make sure you are well prepared for the trip.