Re: 4x4 camping recommendations in NW part of park

[ Follow Ups ] [ Death Valley Talk - Archive Set 1 ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Last Chance Rand on March 14, 2002 at 18:39:57:

In Reply to: Re: 4x4 camping recommendations in NW part of park posted by danielle on March 14, 2002 at 17:38:35:

I too recommmend Michel Diggonett's "Hiking Death Valley." In addition to precious and specific hiking info, he provides lots of info on 4x4 routes, mining history and geology. It is currently my favorite DV guide book.

Regarding Steel Pass, I strongly recommend against taking a rental vehicle on this route. The rental will in all likelihood have street tires, and unless an experienced 4x4 driver, you risk body and underside damage. Unless you are renting a Land Rover (available from Hertz) or something of that caliber, you'll probably not make it past the dry waterfalls in lower Dedeckera Canyon. A stock rental Blazer or Montero or similar class 4x4 will not be set up for this trail.

Also, this route is among the most remote trails in DVNP. Sometimes it goes weeks without seeing traffic. If you have a breakdown or flat tire (no changing tires in backcountry without a hi-lift jack; regular jacks won't work in sand and rocks) you may be stuck there for many days. And if you risk walking for help, seriously, you might perish. Please don't do this route alone.

The road that heads north to the Racetrack is called the Lippencott Road. Here too a stock rental 4x4 is very likely to break down or get a flat tire. The washouts at the bottom of the trail will probably stop you cold. Now, mind you we've seen some very ill-equiped vehicles successfully ascend the Lippencott, but we've also seen many who have not. This route is not as remote as Steel Pass, and in case of an emergency, a walk to the Racetrack is doable, and the Racetrack gets visitors virtually every day.

Here a neat alternative to consider:
- Combine the Hunter Mountain/Hidden Valley route with the Racetrack & Teakettle Junction. Out in Hidden Valley there are several lonely destinations, including the White Top Mountain Road. These areas are remote, full of fossils (Perdido Canyon), have some fun driving spots, great old mines and claims (Lost Burro, Goldbelt) and lots of fantastic views. Try camping at the head of Dry Bone Gulch then hiking down to the fantastic petroglyphs.

Regarding the Warm Springs in Saline Valley, you'll be among lots of others. Mind you, the Warm Springs are certainly worth a visit (some I think never leave...), but it is not a place to seek solitude.

I sincerely hope I'm not being too rough on your itinerary -- you put together a fantastic trip! I just don't think the ordinary rental SUV is up to some of your challenges.

How about you regulars? Do you think I being too tough? Or do you agree with my cautions?

The Editor

Follow Ups: