Death Valley: travel time Beatty - Furnace Creek
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Sep 19, 2012 1:12 PM Last Post By: max_mexico
Sep 17, 2012 4:05 AM
Sep 17, 2012 5:00 AM
1Only the main roads are paved. Be careful when driving on dirt/gravel roads -- one car in my tour of Death Valley drove too fast and kicked up a rock that broke a small hole in the gas tank, which subsequently leaked gasoline. It was a long drive to the nearest gas station and the gas gauge was dropping to empty (tip: a wad of chewing gum will temporarily plug a small hole in the gas tank). Also, many people have gotten lost when exploring the many dirt roads in Death Valley and have died out there.
Sep 17, 2012 7:20 AM
2Also, some of the back roads are deep. soft gravel (especially the road to The Racetreack). That didn't stop me from driving and camping at the Racetrack in my 1987 Toyota Corrola, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Paved roads have signed speed limits. The Park Service regulates speed limits off road, but on bladed gravel you'll probably not exceed forty and half that on washboard or soft gravel. You'll figure it out when your car starts skipping across the road surface, drop it back about 5 mph.
Always carry a jug of drinking water with you (at least a couple liters).
Sep 17, 2012 8:16 AM
3Most don't drive the backroads there because you need the proper kind of vehicle and need to be prepared. Definitely do not rely on a GPS: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/30/3362727/death-by-gps-in-desert.html
Edited by: alapah to clarify that I am not encouraging going on the lesser roads
Sep 17, 2012 8:40 AM
4It's been a while since I visited Death Valley but I think the speed limit is 45 or 50 inside the park. You also have to slow down in areas where there are services (granted there are not that many) and also in areas where the road is quite curvy which I believe is true for Daylight Pass between Beatty and the junction. The roads there are not very wide and I seem to recall hearing that road accidents are a problem. So that googlemap time could be close to correct though I am not positive.
Sep 17, 2012 8:47 AM
5Technically the speed limit is listed at 35mph in the park with lower limits for non-paved roads (25mph) and near cross streets (15mph).
I think google is quite accurate about that drive. It is not a fast two-line highway.
You don't give us any idea of how long you will be in the park. The main highways that cross the park are all paved. Many of the roads to the top attractions are not.
You should really be going 25mp or less on the graveled roads. Excessive speed is a strong contributing factor to puncturing tires. One flat tire is an annoyance. Two can be fatal if you are far off the beaten track.
Sep 17, 2012 11:04 AM
6Paved roads were equal to most main two-lane highways (not interstates) when I was last there. On those roads, the possibility of getting a ticket, and safety, are the main concerns. You could also get stuck behind slower vehicles. Why rush? Enjoy the scenery. Back roads are for cars with high clearance. You do not want to get stuck in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage may be bad, and even if you could phone for help, getting towed would be expensive (and you'd be violating rental car policies).
Sep 17, 2012 5:09 PM
Sep 17, 2012 6:59 PM
8Main roads are all paved as noted by folks above. One glaring exception is the 27 mile route one way to Racetrack which is all gravel with deep ruts. You best have a rental with high clearance for that one and take it slow. I popped a tire on an SUV coming back and it was a slow slow ride out on a donut tire. And then I had to drive to Furnace Creek to get it patched! The guy at the garage said folks pop tires all the time on that route and not uncommonly, more than one! I counted myself lucky that I got off easy with just one tire gone.
Edited by: nicole
Sep 18, 2012 5:43 AM
9Beatty to FC all paved. There are lots and lots of unpaved roads in the park, but you'll want to avoid those in a rental car, anyway. Many years ago my father (who knew the park well),drove down Titus Canyon in our Buick Skylark. We made it, but damaged the flywheel. We've been to Butte Valley and other backcountry areas in the park, but in a jeep. Have a good trip. You can see a lot on good, paved roads. Rangers at the visitor's center can update you on current road conditions.
Sep 18, 2012 11:58 AM
10If you plan to drive off the paved road in a rental, tourists do this all the time without any issues, but you should know that it is technically not allowed by most rental agencies and cars (even if you pay extra for 4wd vehicle). Posters on this branch are known to report you to the rental agency if you volunteer too much information about your trip, so careful what you write...
The paved road inside Death Valley is GREAT. How fast can you drive? On the Daylight Pass Rd heading towards Beatty there's a long straight stretch where you can do at least 140mph with a fast car or motorcycle. The speed limit is 45 though.
Max speed on dirt without damaging the car or putting you at risk would depend on the specific stretch of road and your experience and skills driving on dirt. The dirt Death Valley Rd for example, leading into the park from Big Pine, was a horrible washboard surface road and we averaged around 10 mph!! That was in a 2wd that I cared greatly about.
Sep 19, 2012 3:45 AM
11Thx for so many advices. We wil start in Las Vegas and enter Death Valley at Death Valley Junction on the first day, go out the park in the evenig to have a night in Beatty. and back for one more day...
Is there also a gas station at Furnace Creek?
Sep 19, 2012 5:28 AM
Sep 19, 2012 11:33 AM
13The official park map shows the types of roads in the park -- paved; unpaved but okay for all vehicles; unpaved and requiring high clearance (i.e., an SUV rather than a sedan); unpaved and requiring 4WD.
Trust their judgment: if they say a road is okay for your type of vehicle, believe it. If they say it's not, believe that too. The state highways in and around the park (marked on the map with route numbers) all have fine pavement and could be safely driven far faster than the speed limit if you're feeling lucky about cops. A few paved roads in rough condition are labeled on the map. The unpaved all-vehicle roads can be safely driven at moderate speeds if you don't tell your rental company.
HOWEVER, when it rains in the park, roads get washed out. There's an extremely useful Morning Report updated daily with weather forecasts and road conditions. Check it before your trip if you're planning to venture off the state highways.
Sep 19, 2012 1:12 PM
14In general, that sounds like good advice Yaguri.
Some roads may be exaggerated though. Big Pine Rd from Big Pine to Ubehebe Crater for example is marked as a "high clearance" on the map, but when I was there it was no problem whatsoever to drive in a 2wd sedan (just very annoying washboard surface, but it was flat, hard packed dirt and not technically challenging at all).
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
Get your guidebooks, travel goods, even individual chapters, right here.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.