Towne Pass North Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Towne Pass North


Beginning at sea level, climb into the teeth of Death Valley!

Explore this Climb

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Climb Summary

Cycling Towne Pass, Death Valley  - cyclists with bikes at Death Valley National Park Sign 

Cycling Towne Pass East

Start the climb in Stovepipe Wells, California.

Visit our Death Valley National Park page for more rides in the area.

We have a lot of history with this iconic unique bike climb. Ride 16.9 miles gaining 4,979’ to elevation 4,962’ at 5.6% into a powerful wind.


Climbing by bike Towne Pass, Death Valley  - elevation 0 sign with cyclist next to it

Stovepipe Wells.

Elevation =  .


PJAMM Cycling riding to Whitney Portal from Badwater, 116° at the start.

Here we are at the start of Towne Pass at 11pm, and still 105°.

Then - hike eight miles to the highest point in the Continental US.

Towne Pass East begins a mile west of  Stovepipe Wells, CA and is the highest ranked climb in Death Valley, at #50 on the Top 100 cycling climbs list.  We begin this climb in the heart of Death Valley at sea level and ride into what will likely be a powerful headwind.

The first several miles of this bicycle climb seem almost flat and we are definitely in an arid, desert-like setting. It is Death Valley, afterall.

Climb Towne Pass, Death Valley by bike - cyclist on bike on Hwy 190 passing 1000' elevation sign

Bicycle ride Towne Pass, Death Valley  - bike leaning against Hwy 190 sign near road

Ride on Highway 190 for the first 9.3 miles -- share this segment with Emigrant Pass East.

All Death Valley climbs have rollers, to varying degrees.

Stovepipe Wells is center right in photo (view east 4.6 miles from start).

Aerial photo looking east towards Stovepipe, six miles down the road.

Stovepipe to the right around the redish bluff point in upper middle third of photo.

Ground view looking back down the mountain at mile six.

Pass Emigrant Campground at mile 9.3 (turn left here for the Emigrant Pass East climb).  To this point we have travelled (9.3 miles at 4.5% average grade gaining 2,187’.

Emigrant Campground -- turn left off Highway 190 onto Emigrant Canyon Road here.

We begin to climb into more mountainous, yet stark, landscape around miles seven and eight.

Great descent, tough climb!

As of October 2014, there was water at the nine mile point at Emigrant Campground. There is very little vegetation along this climb, and no trees. As with most of the Death Valley climbs, the views are very stark and high desert-like. This climb is one of the less scenic of the five Top 100 climbs located in Death Valley, but certainly a cycling challenge and can be done in conjunction with #90 Towne Pass West (an over-and-backer) or unranked Emigrant Pass East (visit the Death Valley main page for more information on that climb).

Towne Pass (previously called  Townsend Pass  in the distant past) is named after a man named Townsend who saved emigrants stranded in Death Valley in the mid 19th century.  


#9 climb on of our 2014 Death Valley climb trip.


John at the top of Towne Pass during Badwater to Whitney ride in 2017.

That’s a wrap!


National Park Service Death Valley Weather Chart.

Warning: Do NOT attempt these climbs in the summer, when the average​ high temperatures range from 106°-116° between May and September.

Average high temperature in July is 116°F/46.6°C.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was in Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913 (134℉/56.7℃) and, while that record has been challenged, the “alternate” record is also held by Death Valley in 2013, when it was 129.2℉/54.0℃ (in a tie with Mitribah, Kuwait which recorded that same temperature in 2016).

July 2017 -- Badwater to Mt. Whitney Summit.

116° is the average high temperature in July!

Cycling Death Valley - pjamm cycling ride bikes through death valley

OK!  I didn’t take my own advice in July, 2017.  😨

Traffic and Roadway Surface Report:  As of October 2019, the roadway surface was excellent throughout this ride, but there is minimal to no shoulder and traffic can zoom by at highway speeds.