The hottest cycling climbs in the world - Cycling Death Valley!
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 Chile, 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 10 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 Panamint (Death Valley’s western entrance) to Furnace Creek (eastern exit) 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).
Dante’s 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 1 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.
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 (these are 2015 prices, in 2019 prices were slightly less).
DEATH VALLEY WEATHER
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.
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℃).
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: