Artist Drive, Death Valley, California
Cycle three miles gaining 1,064’ at 6.8%.
The shortest Death Valley bike climb, but one of the most scenic.
Along with Dante’s View, this is our favorite bike climb in Death Valley. First, its short (we’ll never complain about that!). Second, at Artist Pallette, located five miles up the climb -- past the finish, you will see the most colorful hillside in Death Valley. The vibrant colors here are due to a unique set of oxidized minerals (iron, aluminum, magnesium and titanium) in a concentrated area.
The climb begins at the T intersection of Artist Drive and Badwater Road.
12 miles south of Furnace Creek.
One mile up the climb -- adjacent to the first viewpoint on Artist Drive.
First viewpoint -- Mile 1.
The road is pristine as of October 2019.
Near the finish -- Artist’s Pallette is upper center of photo.
Google satellite view of Artist Palette -- parking lot bottom center of image.
We highly recommend this bike climb, even for the cyclist seeking greater challenge than this short climb can give, because it can be added on Dante’s View for one of the best cycling adventures you can experience in the US (Map; 72 miles gaining 7,770’).
It isn’t unlikely to encounter the occasional coyote in Death Valley.
We’ve seen them on Emigrant Pass, Paniment Grade, and Artist Palette.
That’s a wrap!
THE BIKE CLIMBS OF DEATH VALLEY
(From west to east)
Diamonds designate Top 100 US bike climbs (red 51-75 / orange 76-100 rank).
The climbs from Panamint (Death Valley’s western entrance) to Furnace Creek (eastern exit) are:
- Panamint Grade (14.8 miles / 3,370’ gained / 4.3% average grade);
- Towne Pass West (9.3 miles / 3,405’ / 6.9%)Las Vegas, Nevada;
- Wildrose (14.6 miles / 4,415 / 5.7%);
- Emigrant Pass West (15.8 miles / 4,141’ / 4.9%);
- Towne Pass East (17 miles / 4,956’ / 5.6%);
- Emigrant Pass East (23 miles / 5,310’ / 4.4%);
- Daylight Pass (from Daylight Pass Road; 13 miles / 4,150’ / 6.1%);
- Daylight Pass (from Beatty Pass Road; 16 miles / 4,500’ / 5.3%);
- Dante’s View (24 miles / 5,453’ / 4.3%); and
- Artist Drive (3 miles / 1,065’ / 6.8%).
WHERE TO STAY IN DEATH VALLEY
We have entered Death Valley both from the west (via Lone Pine Whitney Portal, and Horseshoe Meadows; 50 miles to Panamint Springs) and Las Vegas (Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon; 140 miles to Furnace Creek).
There are three areas with hotels in Death Valley:
- Panamint Springs: this is the closest hotel to the western entrance to Death Valley, which is near the southern part of the top world bike climbing area of Owens Valley. Panamint Springs is the most rustic and least expensive of the options for accommodations in Death Valley. We have stayed at the Panamint Springs “Resort” but prefer Stovepipe Wells and The Ranch at Death Valley. Panamint has one restaurant, a sparse store, and a gas station.
Sign at Panamint Springs Resort.
The birds to the left are real.
- Stovepipe Wells: The Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel is our choice of places to stay in Death Valley for a couple of reasons. First, it is less expensive than the two hotels in Furnace Creek, although a little more expensive than Panamint Springs. Second, it is the hub for bike climbing in the valley -- all climbs are within a 25 mile straight line radius of Stovepipe (see map, below).
Entrance to Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel.
Distance from Stovepipe Wells to all climbs.
- The Ranch at Death Valley (Furnace Creek): If you don’t mind paying roughly $100 more for lodging and don’t mind driving a little further to your Death Valley bike climbs, this is a great place to stay. The restaurant and store are better and the compound is very nice. The Oasis at Death Valley is the most luxurious accommodations in Death Valley and if price is no object at about $450-$500 a night, stay there. The Oasis is just a mile from The Ranch at Death Valley, and the two hotels are owned by the same company); it is the Four Seasons of Death Valley -- but, at a price -- it is twice the cost of The Ranch and thee to four times more than Panamint and Stovepipe.
Entrance to The Ranch at Death Valley.
The Ranch at Death Valley has by far the nicest store in Death Valley.
The only locations to get gas in Death Valley are at Panamint, Stovepipe and Furnace Creek.
Buyer beware: the math on the above picture is $5.99 per gallon (2015 prices; 2019 were slightly less).
DEATH VALLEY WEATHER
National Park Service Death Valley Weather Chart.
As you may expect, Death Valley is dangerously hot during the day from June through September with average monthly highs during that time ranging from 106° to 116.5°. Cycling is not recommended during the summer and certainly never without good SAG support. The heat can be stifling (if not truly dangerous) and supplies are few and far between.
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 (2013 in a tie with Mitribah, Kuwait in 2016 at 129.2℉/54.0℃).
July 2017 -- Badwater to Mt. Whitney Summit.
Okay...I didn’t take my own advice in July 2017. 😨