Off Roading

You thrive on big adventure—and neither rocks nor mud nor riverbeds can keep you from exploring the wild Nevada desert-scape. Sound like you? Then you’re in the right place! With its untamed backcountry roads and primitive terrain, the Death Valley area offers visitors an unrivaled off-roading experience. Many of the region’s unpaved routes can only be traveled by vehicles designed for off-road driving, such as ATVs (but not allowed in the National Park), mountain bikes, or dune buggies. At the very least, vehicles with high ground clearance and rugged tires are required.A word to the wise, however: Before you set out on any of these off-roading adventures below, be sure to stock up on plenty of food, water, gas and emergency supplies—and be prepared to encounter the ride of your life! Patience, caution and skill are a must when navigating some of Death Valley’s more difficult backroads.

Off-Roading Trails in Death Valley

Lippencott Road (7 miles). Considered by many to be the most challenging off-road route in Death Valley, Lippencott Road is impassible to most standard vehicles. Steep and twisting, this region is best traveled downhill in the company of other vehicles. High clearance 4×4 vehicle required. Nine miles from the South Pass, via Grapevine Canyon.

Big Four Mine (6 miles). The first five miles of this trail is composed of easily passable washboard roads, but the last mile is far more challenging, calling for the capabilities of a high- clearance 4×4 vehicle. North of Highway 190, along the east bank of Panamint Dry Lake.

Echo Canyon (10 miles). This rocky, deep-gravel byway starts along Highway 190, two miles east of Furnace Creek Inn. Off-roaders will enjoy an array of dazzling geologic formations such as The Needle’s Eye (located within the canyon narrows) as well as The Inyo Mine (9 miles up the right fork) which features the remnants of old mining equipment. High clearance 4×4 vehicle required.

Phinney Canyon (22 miles). This desert route starts nearly 12 miles north of the town of Beatty on Highway 95, forking towards Strozzi Ranch on the left and to Phinney Canyon on the right. After entering Phinney Canyon, the road winds through pinyon pine woodlands, offering travelers a stunning view of the Grapevine Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Range. High clearance 4×4 vehicle required.

Panamint Valley (14 miles). Located between the Panamint Range and Argus Mountains, this region’s rugged backcountry is ideal for 4×4 exploration. Off-roading enthusiasts can travel routes leading to some of the area’s old mining sites as well as other destinations within Death Valley.

Goler Canyon Road. Although this route was recently re-graded, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is still recommended. In addition to fantastic natural scenery, adventurers can spot such landmarks as Newman’s Cabin, the ghost town of Ballarat, and a military testing area that lies behind closed gates. Runs up the west side of the Panamint Range to Mengel Pass and then descends into the central part of Death Valley.

Hole-in-the-Wall (4 miles). This is a rough, challenging journey up a rugged gravel wash to a 400-foot-deep gap called Hole-in-the-Wall. A 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance is needed to continue through to the road’s end.

Lemoigne Canyon (4.4 miles). Starting 6 miles west of Stovepipe Wells, this route promises nearly 5 miles of unforgiving desert terrain. The road crosses an alluvial fan to the canyon mouth, beyond which vehicle travel is not allowed.