This trip is scheduled on a requested basis. You need to contact us to determine dates and availability.
Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the lower U.S. It encompasses some 3.3 million acres of the Mojave Desert in eastern California. Almost 95% is designated as wilderness with elevations ranging from -282 feet at Badwater (the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere) to 11,049 feet at the summit of Telescope Peak. Death Valley generally is warm, sunny, and dry throughout the year. In the summers temperatures usually exceed 120 degrees. The winters generally are mild, although nights in the desert can be cold with temps of 20 to 26 degrees. Spring and fall are generally the best time to visit but they can be very windy. This 4-Wheel Drive trip follows back roads in Death Valley that are difficult or impossible for the normal tourist to visit. Due to the vastness of Death Valley and the huge distances you will have time to see only a small portion. The history, the 4-wheel challenge, and the scenic views make this a perfect trip. Be aware that this is a very remote area. Cell phones do not work during the entire trip except at the highest peaks. Medical and emergency services are many hours away once they are contacted. Your guide has a satellite phone for emergencies and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Death Valley Backroads Itinerary:
Day 1 Orientation
Fly into LAX. We will pick you up and transport you to your hotel. You can complete the vehicle rental agreement and any other paperwork. There will be a vehicle introduction and briefing. You can purchase dinner at the hotel or at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2 Gohler to Westside Road
Departure is 5:30AM with a quick stop to allow you to buy coffee and rolls on the way. The first part of our trip is via Highways to Ridgecrest, CA. Ridgecrest is our last fuel stop. Another 30 minutes and we shift into 4-Wheel drive and head over the Slate Range towards Death Valley. Our first major goal is the Barker Ranch – the last hide out for Charley Manson. It will take till Lunch time over some very rough hills, lava rubble, dry lakes, sandy washes, and deep gorges. After lunch and a quick look around, we will continue up the Gohler wash and over Mengle pass. This will be some of the more technical 4-wheeling of the trip. Your experienced guide and the capable 4WD drive vehicles will get you through with slow careful wheel placement. Be sure to follow instruction! As we enter Stripped Butte Valley, you will see one of the wonders of Death Valley. We will stop and visit the Geologist’s Cabin. Then we have a long ride down into the bottom of Death Valley. We will visit Furnace Creek General Store, gas up and then on to our camp site for dinner and a camp fire (wind permitting). This will be a long day.
Day 3 Options One, Two, or Three
After breakfast, we have 3 options for the day before heading home. We can do another quite difficult trail leading to several old mines and mining camps. We can do a much milder, fairly relaxed trail leading to a silver mine and old ghost town with a fantastic view from the top of the mountain down into Death Valley plus on a clear day Mount Whitney. Or we can forget the park and head over to a large sand dune complex for some Sand Duning training and driving. Then we will head back to LA with a stop at a restaurant along the way were you can purchase dinner. Another long day! We might not arrive at the hotel until 9PM.
Day 4 Fly Home
Fly out from LAX. Catch up on sleep.
Note on Itinerary:
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change due to weather and unforeseen events such as wildfires, mud slides, Interstate highway closures and Park closures. This includes changes to routes and departure / arrival times when circumstances or conditions warrant. This trip is operated rain or shine. Pre registration and payment is required. Drivers will need a valid driver’s license. Drivers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Driver and passenger must be able to climb into a SUV type vehicle. Each person will be required to sign an Acknowledgement of Risk and complete a brief medical information form. At times the only toilet available is the primitive equipment we bring with us.
Pick up at LAX airport; Professional 4-wheel drive instruction and guided trip; use of a 4-wheel drive vehicle (maximum of 2 people per vehicle), gasoline, all camping equipment (Tent, sleeping bag, pad, camp and chair); meals as noted on the daily itinerary; Cooler, soda, water and ice, cooking gear; group first-aid kit, campsite and permit fees.
Transportation to and from your hometown to LAX; insurance of any kind; Hotels; restaurant meals; alcoholic beverages (No alcohol will be consumed during our driving period not even with lunch. There will be time around the campfire to enjoy whatever you bring. Note no glass containers are allowed); additional snacks you want; guide gratuities; and items of a personal nature.
Bring clothing for a wide range of weather. A flashlight or headlamp, hat and sunscreen is recommended.
The 4-wheel drive challenge is rated as moderate 3-4 (of 10) but may feel more challenging for those who are less experienced. Your guide will assist with instruction, coaching and spotting to help you through. The trip ranges in elevation from several hundred feet below sea level to 6,000 feet. Participants need to assess their health situation. While this is a vehicle dependent trip, definitive medical care can be more than several hours away.
Daytime temperatures usually range between 60° – 97° F but can sometimes drop lower. Evening temperatures typically drop into the 40° – 50° F range but can drop into the 20’s depending on the season.