Towne Pass West Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Towne Pass West


There's a lot of "Straight" in Death Valley!

Explore this Climb

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Climb Summary

Cycling Towne Pass West

Ride 9.3 miles gaining 3,405’ at 6.9% average grade.

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This is one of the more scenic (along with Dantes View) Death Valley climbs.  The first 1.5 miles of the climb are mild but miles 1.5-5.25 average 7.9% (there is a 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 in front of us (but it's not flat!).  

straight away.jpg

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 3 mile mark we begin to leave the desert floor behind and enter more hilly/mountainous terrain with exceptional views of the valley to our left and behind us as we climb.  By mile 6 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 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 6 and 7

Well . . . after the torture comes the fun!


Towne (or Townsend in the distant past) Pass 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)

Cycling Death Valley - Map with all bike climbs in Death Valley

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:


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 3 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, yet least expensive, accommodations in Death Valley.  We have stayed at the Panamint Springs “Resort” but do 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 - this is our choice of places to stay in Death Valley for a couple of reasons.  First, it is less expensive than the 2 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

Cycling Death Valley - map with climbs in relation to Stovepipe Wells

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 ($450-$500), stay there - it is just a mile from The Ranch at Death Valley (these 2 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 3-4 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 - but, buyer beware:

The math on that is $5.99 per gallon (2015 prices; 2019 were slightly less)


National Park Service Death Valley Weather Chart

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.

Cycling Death Valley - pjamm cycling ride bikes through death valley

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