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Topic: Backpacking Death Valley NP, with easy road access< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 21 2012, 2:07 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am seeking suggestions for an overnight backpacking route in Death Valley NP with easy access from the highway, with minimal rough road driving. Although I own a 4x4 vehicle that can get me just about anywhere I'd want to go in the park,  I can save about $100 in gas by taking my economy car. Recreation money is a bit tight for me right now.  Unfortunately, the price to pay for the fuel economy is a very low ground clearance and small, narrow tires. I'd like to confine any off-pavement driving to short distances on maintained gravel or dirt roads.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 21 2012, 2:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How many nights?  I liked going back into Big Horn Gulch for a couple of nights.  DV is a great place for Feb or March.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 21 2012, 5:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Will second what ol-zeke added about February and March.  This time of year vegetation has long since become dried and dead, all the creastures are still in hiding, and birds have no reason to visit.  So very quiet except for the wind.   Wait until some winter rains occur and that will all change.  As for where, someone will be certain to point you to the Cottonwood-Marble Canyon trail because at least after some rains occur, outside of springs that is one of the only places likely to have running water as most rains tend to just sink into desert sands.  I'll give you another idea.

Although Death Valley is gigantic at 5213 square miles or equivalent to a square area of 72 miles on a side the places that have ever been backpacked to in modern times is miniscule. So not surprising there are few places backpackers talk about.  It is true however that a lot of people day hike, especially on the known icon trails like Golden Canyon, the sand dunes, or peakbagging various peaks.  The main reason is there is no water in most of the park. Still there are a great many places where a person could just park alongside either the paved highway or along the many dirt roads and simply head out carrying water and camp.  All one needs to do is go at least one mile.  And if one looks at the topo, one will see an endless number of what appears to be interesting places one might head off towards to do so.  Of course the lack of water would limit how far and how long one might go to just a few miles and only one or two days overnight.   To me all this was immediately obvious looking at the map and driving around on its roads, just like I've done in Utah which is a similar vast land of amazing virtually pristene never visited places.  

Back in 2005 during the great bloom, I talked with one of the rangers at length.  I told him about some of my adventures that week and my amazement that sands in almost all washes I hiked beyond a few hundred feet from any roads were consistently without human boot prints.    Even in places that were swarming with people roadside.  He related the fact almost no one backpacks in the park except for a very few spots like Cottonwood and I wondered what was his explanation?  Well he said backpacking late spring through summer does not need an explanation because weather is often too hot.   But during the late fall and winter, temps are fine, and actually quite a lot of people in the know visit then but still backpacking just walking off from roads is rare.  His speculation was that most people are simply scared of hiking off from roads where there is no trail especially in deserts.  Even those who normally regularly go offtrail say in the Sierra Nevada.   That made us both chuckle because much of the terrain though rocky is not difficult hiking and there really isn't much to be afraid of.  Outside the higher areas of the Panamint range, no large animals to fear including few rattlesnakes as it is just too dry.  But I guess desert just conjures up in the psyche for many of visions of some old prospector in a movie getting lost and dying of thirst stumbling along with cacti stuck to one's backside.

So check out the topographic maps for interesting places, especially those going up canyons that are likely to have interesting views and after getting permits, just set off.  Even just hiking a mile or three, then setting up a pleasant campspot in order to explore the local area would work.  Even in the popular sand dunes, there are significant areas one can reach from the highway where none of the day hikers roam.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 21 2012, 6:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ogg @ Oct. 21 2012, 11:07 am)
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I am seeking suggestions for an overnight backpacking route in Death Valley...

When? Are you wanting to walk in for an overnighter, then back out?

I can suggest you avoid dirt roads with that little car, and while it may not sound like much of an adventure to car camp, that's what I'd do. I have several times stopped to help visitors who fly in from Europe, rent a small car, and then head for the adventures. The little tires get punctured and the spare is just not up to snuff!. A few times I've given rides to get a driver back to the gas station at Furnace Creek to arrange a tow ($$$). One guy had a personal car and had to hitch a ride (not with me!) back up to Hwy 395 to buy two tires. The station in DV is not stocked like a tire store. Yikes!

That said, I can think of great places to stop and walk. Look at Wildrose Campground and the trails out of there. Or get to the low end of Titus Canyon (a short dirt road up from the valley floor, but "smooth" and well-traveled so no real danger) then walk up Titus Canyon for a few miles. The geology is amazing with narrows between layered cliffs of polished conglomerates. Polished by eons of flash flood waters carrying sand and grit, it's really a place to get you brain boggled!

I was in DV for a few days in December several years ago, stayed at Badwater (slept in my truck, not camped) and the night temp had dropped to 18° according to the next day's readings at the Visitor Center. They have "improved" the Badwater parking area so much it's almost too nice, but it's a worthwhile stopping point to walk out onto the salt flats; get that iconic photo of Telescope Peak covered with snow, reflecting in the pools at Badwater.

So if your trip is soon, take that little car and see Artists Loop, the dunes, go up to Zabriskie Point for a sunrise or sunset, and maybe Ubehebe Crater? All easy to see with paved access (or very short stretches of good dirt road).

If this is all familiar already and your goal is camping in a canyon, check weather forecasts at the Visitor Center. A few years ago a sudden rain elsewhere ended up sending massive flood waters into the valley, washing out roads and creating a bad situation.

Here's a site you might appreciate:
http://www.maturango.org/janetmuseumpages/deathvalley/DeathValley.html

Have a great trip. I wanna go!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 6:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some interesting thoughts and suggestions, thanks. I am thinking of an overnighter backpack, arriving fairly late and car-camping the first of my two available nights. Contemplating just car camping both nights and dayhiking, though I tend not to enjoy crowded camprounds when I am solo. My window of opportunity is pretty much this coming weekend.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 9:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You might want to check how much of this first winter storm made it over the crest to there.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 10:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ogg @ Oct. 22 2012, 3:55 pm)
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... though I tend not to enjoy crowded camprounds when I am solo...

Few people will be visiting at this dead time of year before rains have arrived so you won't have crowded anything.  Note dispersed camping roadsides is not an option unless one drives so far that the cost of roundtrip gas back to the core of the park is as much as a one night campground fee.   Just stay away from the noisy RV areas with their motors running all evening charging batteries.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 10:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Huh? The end of October is when it starts getting busy. (I used to be in the park the last weekend of Oct every year with a club.)

I used to just car camp (bike camp actually) and day hike for three days. Titus Canyon is awesome. But if you want a good overnighter I think you can make it to Wild Rose from the Telescope Peak trail. (Well I know you can but I am not sure of the distance as my CA maps are at Dave's now.) As I remember there is a bit of off-trail hiking to do though.

The trailhead is on a dirt road but they usually have them in good shape. Of course one good rain wrecks that. I was there in 2004 a week after the park was destroyed and two people died in flooding.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 02 2012, 10:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I ended up car camping at the Texas Spring campground near Furnace Creek and day-hiking Funeral Slot canyon, which is directly NE of the campground. That worked out pretty well and it was nice to have a comfortable camp and some real cooking (steak fajitas) and cool microbrews when I returned.  Though I usually solo car-camp in more of a minimalist backpacking style mode,  this time it was nice to have the family camping tent, coleman stove and lantern, etc. Daytime temps were in the mid-high 80's. This region of the park seems to be better suited to dayhikes. I'd brought my two daughters (5 and 11) along with me as far as Shoshone, where I handed them over to their grandma, who is spending the fall in her RV in Pahrump, NV. This necessitated entering the park from east.  I do like rayestrellas's idea of Wildrose Peak and in fact that hike has  been on my long list for a while.








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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 05 2012, 12:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oops, guess I'm too late.  I was going to suggest you look into one we've long wanted to do, which is to hike over and camp near the Panamint dunes so we can climb them at dawn.

You can dispersed camp on any dirt road a mile from an improved road.  We did that easily in the past with our Outback, though I think many of those places would be a challenge with the Prius :p

One of my all-time favorites, down along the Amargosa "River" in spring 2005--one of the best years for flowers in the last century.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 08 2013, 4:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My Apologies if I'm crapping on this Thread. But I suppose instead of opening a new thread and giving more work for people responding to my questions. I figured it will be easier for members to answer my questions with assumption that I have read the inputs already provided on this thread.

Now

I was planning to do a 3-4 nights backpacking trip in Death Valley, I have been there once and have visited to all the tourists spot. Stayed in the resort with comfy Air-conditioner and awesome pool.

But I would love experience the park and explore it visiting some the marvels inaccessible to tourists. I initially through about a normal backpacking trip like I am used to do on developed trails, only to find out that DV is a different place where normal backpacking term doesn't mean anything due to the primitiveness of the park and dangerous conditions where getting lost means certain death.

I'm thinking about converting this to a back-country camping trip, where I chose one campsite for a day, leave the road go camp there and explore the area as a dayhike and return back to the camp. Rebecca's Panamint Dune comment above has raised my curiosity. I would welcome some ideas on how to make my wish of hiking in DV a reality.

I'm a reasonable hiker and backpacker, decent with GPS skills and would like like as light as possible (but understand carrying water is unavoidable) I'm also the kind of person who likes to take time stop a sight and start looking to nitty gritty things in the nature. Hiking is more of a tool for me to get some peace and explore nature closely than a primary goal by itself.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 7:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(mamamiapdx @ Jan. 08 2013, 4:01 pm)
QUOTE
My Apologies if I'm crapping on this Thread. But I suppose instead of opening a new thread and giving more work for people responding to my questions. I figured it will be easier for members to answer my questions with assumption that I have read the inputs already provided on this thread.

Now

I was planning to do a 3-4 nights backpacking trip in Death Valley, I have been there once and have visited to all the tourists spot. Stayed in the resort with comfy Air-conditioner and awesome pool.

But I would love experience the park and explore it visiting some the marvels inaccessible to tourists. I initially through about a normal backpacking trip like I am used to do on developed trails, only to find out that DV is a different place where normal backpacking term doesn't mean anything due to the primitiveness of the park and dangerous conditions where getting lost means certain death.

I'm thinking about converting this to a back-country camping trip, where I chose one campsite for a day, leave the road go camp there and explore the area as a dayhike and return back to the camp. Rebecca's Panamint Dune comment above has raised my curiosity. I would welcome some ideas on how to make my wish of hiking in DV a reality.

I'm a reasonable hiker and backpacker, decent with GPS skills and would like like as light as possible (but understand carrying water is unavoidable) I'm also the kind of person who likes to take time stop a sight and start looking to nitty gritty things in the nature. Hiking is more of a tool for me to get some peace and explore nature closely than a primary goal by itself.



You'll need a 4x4 or at least a high clearance vehicle with sturdy tires to travel in the backcountry. Lack of 4WD would limit where you could expect to travel safely. A three night trip suggestion combining backpacking with backcountry camping would be to camp out of the vehicle at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon for a night, then two nights backpacking the Cottonwood-Marble Canyon loop. (I did the Cottonwood only portion this trip a few years ago, it was very memorable)
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 9:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I will be renting a 4WD from Las Vegas. I'm thinking about dropping the backpacking a single trail option and converting the trip to camp in the backcountry and go on day hikes.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 12 2013, 1:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

This site was a great resource for me. Since we'll be there in summer, we'll be doing Telescope Peak to escape the heat. Steve even answered a few questions I had.
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