The hottest cycling climbs in the world are in Death Valley. This is an incredible, otherworldly landscape to ride your bike through, and also contains several of the Top 100 climbs in the US.
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
One of the greatest cycling venues you may have never considered.
We have cycled Death Valley five times between 2009 and 2019 and fully appreciate its beauty and off-season cycling opportunities. Other than Tenerife, Canary Islands, we cannot think of a better off-season destination to train and climb by bike. While Death Valley is tortuously and prohibitively hot during the summer, it is warm to mild during the fall and winter months, making it our top pick of places to ride during the seasons; most other areas are generally off limits due to rain or snow.
CYCLING DEATH VALLEY: AN OVERVIEW
There are ten excellent bike climbs within a 25 mile radius of Towne Pass East (Stovepipe Wells).
Diamonds designate Top 100 US bike climbs (red 51-75 / orange 76-100 rank).
The climbs from Death Valley’s western entrance, Panamint, to its eastern exit at Furnace Creek are:
OUR FAVORITE BIKE CLIMBS IN DEATH VALLEY
#1 DANTE'S VIEW
Cycling Dantes View, Death Valley, CA.
Ride 24 miles gaining 5,453’ at 4.3%.
Photo: Zabriskie Point (mile 3).
Dantes View overlooks Badwater, Death Valley.
For this climb, we start just across the highway from the "Sea Level" sign at the intersection of Badwater Road and the lightly traveled Highway 190, and then begin a 24-mile journey that offers some of the most exceptional views in Death Valley.
Cycling Emigrant Pass East, Death Valley.
Ride 22.8 miles gaining 5,308’ at 4.4%.
You run into all forms of critters out there -- from tarantulas to . . . Peter!
The real climbing portion of this ride begins around miles 7-8, as the first few miles seem almost flat. This climb is definitely in an arid desert setting, and you can expect very little vegetation and stark views throughout.
14.6 miles gaining 4,415’ at 5.7%.
The first nine miles are on a very rough and closed road. This is an epic ride, but beware it is in Death Valley and completely unsupported.
If you are going the last two miles to the kilns, bring a gravel bike.
There’s a lot of straight in Death Valley.
Ride 9.3 miles gaining 3,405’ at 7%.
Photo: Looking back after one mile, view west.
Photo: Just before the start of the climb, view east.
Town Pass West is definitely one of the more scenic Death Valley climbs. Around mile three, we leave the desert floor behind and begin to enter the more hilly terrain, offering exceptional views of the valley as we climb. When we reach mile six, we’re entering stark, vegetation-less terrain that call to mind images of the planet Mars -- all part of Death Valley’s otherworldly allure.
#5 ARTIST DRIVE
At three miles and 6.8% average grade, this is the easiest, and one of the most scenic, DV climbs.
FURNACE CREEK VISITOR CENTER
The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is just north of The Ranch at Furnace Creek - it is where the famous Death Valley Thermometer is located. 😈😈
Photo Sky News.
The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley (Furnace Creek) was 134°F (57°C) on July 10, 1913. The photo above is a record of the hottest “reliable” weather reading ever, taken in 2020.
July is probably not the best time to be riding through Death Valley . . . 😓
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.
Aerial drone photo of The Ranch at Death Valley.
Entrance and market at The Ranch at Death Valley.
The Ranch at Death Valley has by far the nicest store in Death Valley.
WHERE TO GET GAS
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 (these are 2015 prices) prices in 2019 and 2021 were slightly less).
DEATH VALLEY WEATHER
National Park Service Death Valley Weather Chart.
From June through September, Death Valley, California is dangerously hot during the day, with average monthly highs during that time ranging from 106°F to 116.5°F. 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.
Though challenged as potentially inaccurate, the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was in Furnace Creek, Death Valley on July 10, 1913 (134℉/56.7℃). The “alternate” record is also held by Death Valley as well. In 2013 the weather was recorded at 129.2℉/54.0℃ in Death Valley , then in 2016, the same temperature was recorded in Mitribah, Kuwait. Most recently the record was set again (not including the challenged 1913 high). On August 16, 2020, Death Valley made international news when it recorded a temperature of 130℉!
Death Valley National Park encompasses 3,373,063 acres, making it the fifth largest National Park, and was established in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.
Interesting statistics for Death Valley:
Thank you Carla and Tom Morton!!
HIKES, THINGS TO SEE AND PLACES TO VISIT
Zabriskie Point - one of the most popular viewpoints in Death Valley
Eureka Mine / Harrisburg
This fun jaunt 2 miles off Emigrant Canyon Road and the Emigrant Canyon Road East climb - Google Map + Reviews.
Ballarat Trading Post - very popular spot in Death Valley -
This fun little ghost town is off Trona-Wildrose Road a few miles south of the start of the Wildrose Climb. Link to Intersection Ballarat and Trona-Wildrose Road.
-------- Google Map + Reviews.
Harmony Borax Works
This is a very popular spot to visit just north of Furnace Creek - Google Maps + Reviews.
A nice hike off the Beatty Road-Daylight Pass Route is the Keane Wonder Mine
AllTrails.com: “Keane Wonder Mine Trail is a 8.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Death Valley, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips.”
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