There’s an oxymoron for you . . .
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Cycling Dante’s View, Death Valley is an absolutely epic Death Valley bike climb. Ride 24 miles gaining 5,495’ to elevation 5,467’ at 4.3% average grade.
Note on the sign in the above photo, it’s one of our all-time favorites. It was 110 degrees when we took that photo -- we could have used a little cool in the desert that day. Quite ironic it was . . . 😈
In our opinion, this is the jewel of the 5 Death Valley Top 100 U.S. Climbs; it is epic and a must climb for any adventurous climbing cyclist. First, we start just across the highway from the "Sea Level" sign at the intersection of Badwater Road and lightly traveled Highway 190 and then begin a 24-mile journey that offers some of the most exceptional views in Death Valley.
Start of climb on our first trip.
Start of climb on trip number two.
One of the great benefits of this climb is that while there is very little in the way of lodging in Death Valley, there are two resorts in close proximity to the beginning of the climb. Furnace Creek Resort is just across the street from the start of the ride -- a very upscale and beautiful resort (too rich for our blood), and The Ranch at Furnace Creek a couple miles down the road (a great spot -- we've stayed there three times).
This ride is separated into two distinct segments. First is the 10.7 miles on Highway 190 which has a mild 3.3% grade (gaining 1,980'). The shoulder is wide and there is minimal traffic along this stretch. Stopping at Zabriskie Point is a must. The area is unbelievable, "surrounded by a maze of wildly eroded and vibrantly colored badlands, this spectacular view is one of the park’s most famous. Zabriskie Point is a popular sunrise and sunset viewing location." (AllTrails). Zabriskie Point is also a good alternative start point (mile 3.5; cuts off only 617' of climbing; great parking).
There is a LOT of straight in Death Valley.
Zabriskie Point at mile 3.2.
PJAMMers did this ride from Badwater on an 80 degree day in March 2017. This is an outstanding 81 miles/6,743' out-and-back. Another -- less intelligent -- PJAMM group started in July 2016 with the intention of riding from Badwater to Whitney Portal and then hiking to the top of Whitney. Only one of four made that one!
Segment two is the more strenuous, but just as scenic, part of the climb at 3,450'/6.2% (final two miles at 9.3% and final 1/2 mile at 10.6%). Save enough time to spend soaking in the 360 degree breathtaking views at the top of the climb, Dante's View. Looking west we look down at Badwater (279' BELOW Sea Level).
Last ¼ mile is 15%.
Looking down and northwest at Badwater and Death Valley.
Number five of our 10 Death Valley bike climbs in 2014.
Steepest ¼ mile is at mile 23.5 (13%) and mile at 22.8 (10.1%).
Death Valley Weather
Do NOT attempt these climbs in the summer when the average temperatures range from 101-116 between May and September.
Traffic and Roadway Report
As of September 2014, the roadway surface was excellent throughout this climb and traffic on Highway 190 is minimal (the first 10 miles of the climb) and extremely sporadic after turning onto Furnace Creek Wash Road at mile 11.
Visiting Death Valley National Park
Don’t let the name fool you. Though Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest (below sea level!) National Park, this stunning landscape is home to a great diversity of life. It’s a land of extremes: “towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans” (Death Valley National Park). Use the National Parks Service’s “Plan Your Visit” webpage to learn more about must-see sights, places you can stay, best times to visit, and general accessibility of different landmarks and locations in this vast and beautiful Southern California National Park.
The Dante’s View climb is about 16 miles south of Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park, and provides stunning panoramic views of the southern portion of the Death Valley basin. A fun piece of trivia is that Dante’s View was used as a filming location for the 1977 version of Star Wars, as the “characters overlook the fictional Tatooine spaceport of Mos Eisley” (Wikipedia).
The other four of the Top 100 climbs that fall inside of Death Valley are: #50, Townes Pass East; #56, Wildrose; #73, Daylight Pass; and #90, Townes Pass West.