Emigrant Pass East Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Emigrant Pass East


Another epic Death Valley adventure!

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Climb Summary

Emigrant Pass, Death Valley National Park - climb by bike - cyclist in Stovepipe wells at Sea Level sign

Cycling Emigrant Pass East and West - from the East this is a Top 100 US bike climb.

From the east (Stovepipe Wells) ride ride 22.8 miles gaining 5,367’ to elevation 5,316’ at 4.4% average grade.  

Visit our Death Valley National Park page 

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

Start the Emigrant Pass East is in Stovepipe Wells, CA      

California Top 10 Most Epic Climb 

Emigrant Pass North begins in Stovepipe Wells, CA and is an extremely remote climb in Death Valley . The first several miles of this climb seem almost flat and we are definitely in an arid, desert-like setting. We begin to climb into more mountainous, yet barren, landscape around miles 7 and 8. As of October, 2014, there was water at the 9 mile point at Emigrant Campground. There is very little vegetation along this climb and no trees. As with most Death Valley climbs, the views are, not surprisingly, very stark and desert to high desert-like.


  bike climb Emigrant Pass, Death Valley National Park - turn off air conditioner sign

This sign greets us as we leave Stovepipe.

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

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

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

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

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

Looking back down the mountain at mile 6

After riding 9.3 miles and just after passing Emigrant Campground, turn left onto Emigrant Canyon Road (9.3 miles at 4.5% average grade and 2,187' climbed to this point).  

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

The next 7.6 miles are initially through a canyon and then into open upper desert space to the end point at Emigrant Pass.

Classic case of “when it rains, it pours . . . “

Looking back towards Hwy 190 just over a mile up Emigrant Canyon

Bike ride Emigrant Pass, Death Valley National Park - canyon and road

Pass through a narrow and fun canyon for several miles 1 ½ miles after turning off Hwy 190

Riding in the canyon

Journigan Mill

There is a 4 mile 1.5% average grade section during the last part of the climb.

The pass is in the foothills in photo background.

Bicycling Emigrant Pass, Death Valley National Park - cyclist next to summit sign near road

John at the summit 2014 - bring lights as a precaution when riding in the desert.

Cycling Emigrant Pass, Death Valley National Park - 2 cyclists with bikes next to summit sign

Stacy and Bruce early 2019.

Summit September, 2019 . . . 😞

 Be careful on this one as there is no support anywhere along the climb and, while you will encounter traffic along Hwy 190 up to the Emigrant Canyon Road turn off, you may not see another soul after that.

Bike climb Emigrant Pass, Death Valley National Park - cyclist on road next to tarantula

No way I am doing that Peter!


Spiders seriously creep me out!

We also saw a herd of mules and coyote along this climb.

Weather: Do NOT attempt these climbs in the summer when the average​ high temperatures range from 101-116 between May and September. (See Weather summary, below, for more details.

 Traffic and Roadway report:  As of October, 2014, the roadway surface was excellent throughout this ride but there is minimal to no shoulder and traffic can zoom by at highway speeds.   Traffic after the turn off at Emigrant Canyon Road is effectively nonexistent.


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 (closest hotel to our climb) -  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 (2014 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 - there are none anywhere on this route - no water, no nothin . . .  

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  😨