Death Valley National Park

Zabriskie Point bathed in warm afternoon light in Death Valley National Park - Photo by James L Rathbun
Zabriskie Point bathed in warm afternoon light in Death Valley National Park – Photo by James L Rathbun

Perhaps the most ominous name of any location on Earth, Death Valley is located near the border of California and Nevada and East of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve.  The beauty of Death Valley is that in such a harsh environment, life finds a way and thrives in this rugged landscape. Death Valley 4×4 trails offer the explorer opportunity to explore this wonderful arid landscape.

Scottys Castle is found in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley National Park - Photo by James L Rathbun
Scottys Castle is found in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley National Park – Photo by James L Rathbun

Death Valley runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Sylvania Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, respectively. It has an area of about 3,000 sq mi. Death Valley shares many characteristics with other places below sea level.  

A land of extremes, Death Valley holds the record of being the second lowest place on the planet at 282 feet below sea level.  Located Just 100 miles to the west, Mt. Whitney in the High Sierra is the highest location in the lower 48 states and gives insight as the the geographic diversity of the area.

Death Valley frequently experiences temperatures over 120° F and in addition to holding the all time hottest temp (134° F – July 10, 1913) Death Valley routinely records some of the hottest days on the planet year after year. All to frequently, a visitor will die in this area due to the very extreme heat, plan your trip with care.

Despite the rugged country and harsh environment, Death Valley remains a popular destinations for all off roads.  The combination of scenery, history and remote locations offer main opportunities for adventure

The park has a very rich history, including abandon mine sites, ghost towns, charcoal kilns, Scotty’s Castle in grapevine canyon, movie sites, and in 1969 the infamous Charles Manson was captured in Goler Wash.

The southern and central areas of Death Valley are the more populated areas, with Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creed offering lodging, food, fuel and water.  The northern section only really had Scotty’s castle, which offers limited food, water and no fuel, which is huge consideration.

Due to the long distances and remote locations, Death Valley 4×4 trails remind one, that it is always important to fill up and watch your fuel consumption and water when travelling the back roads of Death Valley.

Thunderstorm in Death Valley National Park - Photo by James L Rathbun
Thunderstorm in Death Valley National Park – Photo by James L Rathbun

Death Valley 4×4 Trails

Cerro Gordo overlooking the then full Owens Lake.

Cerro Gordo California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Located in the Inyo Mountains on the eastern side of Owens Valley, Cerro Gordo California is a currently a ghost town after almost 100 years…
Crowells Mill under construction in Chloride City, CA about 1915

Chloride City California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Chloride City California is located within Death Valley National Park and Inyo County, California. The town arose out of silver discoveries in nearby Chloride Cliff…
William Lewis Manly (April 6, 1820 – February 5, 1903)

Fish Canyon Escape Trail

William Lewis Manly (April 6, 1820 – February 5, 1903) The Fish Canyon Escape Trail is a route discovered by William Manly as an escape…
Asa Russell "Panamint Russ" in front of the Geologist cabin - Courtesy of Desert Magazine April 1955

Goler Wash and Mengel Pass

Goler Wash and Mengel Pass over a route into Butte Valley from Panamint Valley. Although not technically in Death Valley, this trail is consider part…

Henry Wade Escape Route

The Henry Wade Escape Route is an easy 4x4 trail suitable for almost any vehicle and connects highway 127 to Badwater Road. The route is…
The Lost Burrow Mine is located off Hunter Mountain Road in Death Valley National Park, CA

Hunter Mountain Road

Hunter Mountain Road is a lightly used moderately difficult road which delivers you to one of the most remote and beautiful parts of Death Valley…
Lippencott Mine Road from Racetrack Valley, Death Valley National Park, CA

Lippincott Mine Road

The Lippincott Mine Road is a one way road from Death Valley's Racetrack Playa to Saline Valley. It is a steep trail which is not…
The cabin found at the Lost Burrow Mine is in good shape.

Lost Burro Mine

Founded in 1907 when Bert Shively picked up a rock to throw at some stray burros and discovered gold, the Lost burro Mine is a…
The Racing stones.

Racetrack Valley

TeaKettle Junction lets you know you are starting to get close to the Racetrack. Racetrack valley is a rough graded road which departs the Ubehebe…
Skidoo, CA 1907

Skidoo California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Skidoo California was famous in the first decade of the 20th century when gold had been found in Inyo County and the town established in…
Titus Canyon, a narrow canyon drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

Titus Canyon

Titus Canyon has it all, rugged mountains, colorful rock formations, a small ghost town, mines, petroglyphs, wildlife, rare plants and spectacular canyon narrows as a…
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is…
Looking down at the Lippencott Mine Road from the Lippencott Mine, with Saline Valley in the distance.

Warm Springs Road

A short side trip from the Saline Valley Road to the Saline Valley Warm Springs in Death Valley National Park, California. The road is used…
White Top Mountain Road view from the Lost Burrow Mine Road, Death Valley, CA

White Top Mountain

White Top Mountain road is located off of Hunter Mountain Road, in Death Valley National Park, California. A hilly and mountainous road connecting the Hidden…

Death Valley Campgrounds

Death Valley National Park

Emigrant Campground

Emigrant Campground is a tent only campground located next to CA Route 190 near the boundary of Death Valley National Park, California. The campgrounds is…
Death Valley National Park

Eureka Dunes Dry Camp

Eureka Dunes Campground is near a small localize sand dunes formation with Death Valley National Monument. Eureka Dunes Dry Camp is located next to the…

Furnace Creek Campground

Furnace Creek Campground is located at -200 below sea level in Death Valley National Park, California. The campground is the most popular in the Death…
Homestake, Death Valley

Homestake Dry Camp

Homestake Dry Camp - A primative campsite at Racetrack Valley The Homestake Dry camp is a primitive campground located in Racetrack valley inside Death Valley…
Death Valley National Park

Mahogany Flat Campground

Mahogany Flat Campground lies at 8,200 feet in the Panamint Mountain Range in Death Valley National Parl. The campground provides access to hiking and backpacking,…

Mesquite Springs Campground

Mesquite Springs Campground located near Scotty's Castle in Death Valley Mesquite Springs is a campground in Death Valley National Park, Located just a few short…
Sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley National Park

Stovepipe Wells

Stovepipe Wells Campgound is located in Stovepipe wells just off the 190 highway in Death Valley National Park. Located about 25 miles away from Furnace…
Sunset Campground located in Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park. Photo by Heather Rathbun

Sunset Campground

Sunset Campground is another large, flat parking lot campground primary for RV camping located near Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park, California. The Campground…
Death Valley National Park

Texas Springs Campground

Texas Springs Campground is another large campground, primarilyy for RV and trailer camping within Death Valley National Park. The campground a mile of the Furnace…
Death Valley National Park

Thorndike Campground

Thorndike campground is located at 7,400 feet in the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park. The campground is accessible to high clearance vehicles only…
Death Valley National Park

Wildrose Campground

Wildrose Campground is located at 4100 feet above sea level in the Paramint Mountains within Death Valley National Park. This semi-primative campground is located off…

Death Valley Ghost Towns

Ballarat, California - Marriedtofilm at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Malafaya using CommonsHelper.

Ballarat California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Ballarat, California Located in Inyo County, Ballarat California is a ghost town which supposedly has a few residents living their dream within the town. Ballarat…
Cerro Gordo overlooking the then full Owens Lake.

Cerro Gordo California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Located in the Inyo Mountains on the eastern side of Owens Valley, Cerro Gordo California is a currently a ghost town after almost 100 years…
Crowells Mill under construction in Chloride City, CA about 1915

Chloride City California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Chloride City California is located within Death Valley National Park and Inyo County, California. The town arose out of silver discoveries in nearby Chloride Cliff…
Greenwater Mining District, CA 1906

Greenwater California – Inyo County Ghost Town

In 1904, a copper strike near Greenwater Spring and ensuing rush to profit caused the formation of Greenwater in Inyo County, California. Originally known by…
Cashier Mill ruin and Pete Aguereberry, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection,

Harrisburg California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Harrisburg California is a ghost town is located at 4987 feet above sea level in Inyo County and currently part of Death Valley National Park.…
Leadfield Sign, Death Valley, California

Leadfield California – A Death Valley Ghost Town

Leadfield California is a ghost town located in Inyo County and Death Valley National Park and found on the Titus Canyon Trail. The town boom…
Panamint City Stamp Mill

Panamint City California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Panamint City California - 1875 Panamint City California is a ghost town and silver mine site located in Inyo County. The town site was built…
Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun

Rhyolite Nevada – Nye County Ghost Town

Rhyolite is a ghost town location just outside of the Eastern edge of Death Valley National monument in Nye country, Nevada.  Founded in 1904 by…
Skidoo, CA 1907

Skidoo California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Skidoo California was famous in the first decade of the 20th century when gold had been found in Inyo County and the town established in…

Death Valley Points of Interest

Artist's Palette, Death Valley National Park - Photo by James L Rathbun

Artist Drive

Artist Drive is perhaps one of the most popular and scenic drives through a colorful palette of geology, located in Death Valley National Park, California.…
Badwater Basin located at 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. - Photo by James L Rathbun

Badwater Basin

Located at 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is a popular stop for sightseers visiting Death Valley National Park, California. The site is located…
Ballarat, California - Marriedtofilm at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Malafaya using CommonsHelper.

Ballarat California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Ballarat, California Located in Inyo County, Ballarat California is a ghost town which supposedly has a few residents living their dream within the town. Ballarat…
Cerro Gordo overlooking the then full Owens Lake.

Cerro Gordo California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Located in the Inyo Mountains on the eastern side of Owens Valley, Cerro Gordo California is a currently a ghost town after almost 100 years…
Crowells Mill under construction in Chloride City, CA about 1915

Chloride City California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Chloride City California is located within Death Valley National Park and Inyo County, California. The town arose out of silver discoveries in nearby Chloride Cliff…
Darwin Falls is a nice hike near Death Valley National Park, CA

Darwin Falls

The waterfalls of Darwin are located on the western edge of Death Valley National Park near the settlement of Panamint Springs, California. Although there exists…
A completely flattened structure at Goldbelt Springs, Death Valley, California - Photo by James L Rathbun

Goldbelt Springs

A discovery by the famous prospector "Shorty Harris", led to the founding on the Goldbelt Springs mining district off Hunter Mountain Road in Death Valley…
Greenwater Mining District, CA 1906

Greenwater California – Inyo County Ghost Town

In 1904, a copper strike near Greenwater Spring and ensuing rush to profit caused the formation of Greenwater in Inyo County, California. Originally known by…
Cashier Mill ruin and Pete Aguereberry, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection,

Harrisburg California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Harrisburg California is a ghost town is located at 4987 feet above sea level in Inyo County and currently part of Death Valley National Park.…
Keane Wonder Mine - 1916 - Quartz mill. Mine said to have produced $1,000,000. Closed May 1916 as the developed ore bodies were worked out.

Keane Wonder Mine – “King of the Desert”

The Keane Wonder Mine is perhaps the most visited gold mining facility in Death Valley National Park in eastern California. Mining operations began in December…
Leadfield Sign, Death Valley, California

Leadfield California – A Death Valley Ghost Town

Leadfield California is a ghost town located in Inyo County and Death Valley National Park and found on the Titus Canyon Trail. The town boom…
U2's Joshua Tree - 2016

One Tree Hill, A trip to the U2 Joshua Tree

A trip to the U2 Joshua Tree brought back a life time of memories. There was never a point in time that I was not…
Panamint City Stamp Mill

Panamint City California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Panamint City California - 1875 Panamint City California is a ghost town and silver mine site located in Inyo County. The town site was built…
The Racing stones.

Racetrack Valley

TeaKettle Junction lets you know you are starting to get close to the Racetrack. Racetrack valley is a rough graded road which departs the Ubehebe…
Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun

Rhyolite Nevada – Nye County Ghost Town

Rhyolite is a ghost town location just outside of the Eastern edge of Death Valley National monument in Nye country, Nevada.  Founded in 1904 by…
Scotty's Castle located in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley.

Scottys Castle – The Death Valley Ranch

Scottys Castle located in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley. Named after Walter Scott AKA "Death Valley Scotty", Scottys Castle or the Death Valley Ranch is…
Skidoo, CA 1907

Skidoo California – Inyo County Ghost Town

Skidoo California was famous in the first decade of the 20th century when gold had been found in Inyo County and the town established in…
Teakettle Junction at the intersection of Hunter Mountain Road and Race Track Valley Road, Death Valley National Park, California - Photo by James L Rathbun

Teakettle Junction

Located at the intersection of Hunter Mountain Road and Race Track Valley Road, Teakettle Junction is a unique point of interest in Death Valley National…
The Arargosa Opera House is located in Death Valley Junction, California.

The Amargosa Opera House

Recently, on a whim, my wife and I loaded up the jeep and opt to just explore the desert West of our home town of…
Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California - Photo by James L Rathbun

Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater is a volcanic crater located near Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley National Park in California. The crater is approximately 600 deep and one…
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is…
Zabriskie Point bathed in warm afternoon light in Death Valley National Park - Photo by James L Rathbun

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is perhaps one of the best known and popular overlooks in the entire Death Valley National Park, California. The landmark is named for…

Death Valley Personalities

Albert Mussey Johnson

 Albert Mussey Johnson – Death Valley Ranch Owner

Albert Mussey Johnson Albert Mussey Johnson (1872 - 1948) was a businessman and investor who received notoriety as the millionaire, who built “Scotty's Castle” in…
Carl Mengel with dog "Whitey at his home in Butte Valley, April 1940. Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.

Carl Mengel – Panamint Valley Miner

Carl Mengel was a prospector and miner in Panamint Valley, located in Death Valley National Park, California. He lost a leg in a mining accident,…
Charles Ferge "Seldom Seen Slim"

Charles Ferge “Seldom Seen Slim” – A Ballarat Prospector

Charles Ferge "Seldom Seen Slim" Charles Ferge "Seldom Seen Slim" is the last of the known prospectors who lived in the town of Ballarat located…
Christian Brevoort Zabriskie

Christian Brevoort Zabriskie

Christian Brevoort Zabriskie was a vice president and general manager Pacific Coast Borax Company located in Death Valley National Park. Zabriske served teh Pacific Coast…
C. C. Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian

C. C. Julian Courtney Chauncey Julian, C. C. Julian, was a businessman and shameless promoter who's business dealings forced him to flee to California for…
Francis Marion "Borax" Smith

Francis Marion Smith – “Borax Smith”

Francis Marion "Borax" Smith Francis Marion Smith, also known as "Borax" Smith was a miner and business man who made a fortune in the hostile…
Frank "Shorty" Harris

Frank “Shorty” Harris

Frank Harris was a prospector, desert rat and perhaps the best known character in western mining history. He looked the part, often travelling the desert…
Pete Aguereberry

Pete Aguereberry – A Panamint Valley Miner

Pete Aguereberry was a prospector and miner who operated around Death Valley National Park, for whom Aguereberry is named. Born in the Basque Region of…
Walter Scott (1872 - 1954)

Walter Edward Perry Scott – “Death Valley Scotty”

Walter Edward Perry Scott  (September 20, 1872 – January 5, 1954), also known as "Death Valley Scotty", was a miner, prospector and conman who operated…

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