Cycling Towne Pass West
Ride 9.3 miles gaining 3,405’ at 6.9% average grade.
For more information on this ride, and others in the area, visit PJAMM Cycling’s Death Valley National Park page.
Along with Dantes View, Towne Pass West is one of the more scenic Death Valley climbs. The first 1.5 miles of the climb are mild, but miles 1.5-5.25 average 7.9%, with a one mile stretch from about mile 4.25 to 5.25 that averages 9.7%. The start of the climb is pure Death Valley: what seems to be an endless stretch of straight, flat pavement is all that lies in front of us...but don’t be fooled, it's not flat!
Riding from Panamint towards start of Towne Pass West climb.
Ground view looking towards beginning of the climb.
Looking back ½ mile from the start.
By the three mile mark we begin to leave the desert floor behind and enter more hilly/mountainous terrain, offering exceptional views of the valley to our left and behind us as we climb. By mile six we are entering canyon-like terrain which is stark and without any appreciable vegetation and certainly no greenery -- but these stark Mars and Moon-scapes are part of the allure and beauty of Death Valley. See this YouTube video for a true sense of this climb.
Colorful surroundings as we climb.
There is a ½ mile 11.5% segment from between miles six and seven.
Well . . . after the torture comes the fun!
Towne Pass (also 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.
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:
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:
Sign at Panamint Springs Resort
The birds to the left are real.
Entrance to Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel.
Distance from Stovepipe Wells to all climbs.
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 -- but, buyer beware:
The math on that is $5.99 per gallon (2015 prices; 2019 were slightly less).
DEATH VALLEY WEATHER
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.
OK! I didn’t take my own advice in July, 2017. 😨