Death Valley’s Best Scenic Four-Wheel Drives

Hundreds of miles of unmaintained 4WD roads in the park provide access to remote destinations. Farabee’s Jeep Rentals in Furnace Creek rents 4WD vehicles and has up-to-date backcountry road information. Check the visitors centers and ranger stations to confirm current road conditions, which can change from one day to the next.

Jeeps parked at large mine entrance above Death Valley, California.
Jeeps parked outside a mine entrance in the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley, California. Photo © The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.
  • Cottonwood Canyon Road: This 19-mile primitive road travels deep into the Cottonwood Mountains. The road starts off spitting through semi-deep sand, eventually becoming more solid (washboard and gravel) then much rougher as it enters Cottonwood Canyon wash.
  • Echo Canyon to Inyo Mine: The 19-mile (round-trip) drive is popular for its scenic, winding canyon and ghost camp ruins. Access starts from Highway 190, east of Badwater Road, and requires a high-clearance vehicle for the 3 miles to the canyon mouth and 4WD beyond to the mining camp.
  • Pleasant Canyon to Rogers Pass: This rugged road requires a 4WD vehicle through Pleasant Canyon. You will be driving directly in the creek en route to backcountry cabins and historic mining camps in the Western Panamint Mountains.
  • Racetrack Valley Road: High-clearance vehicles can make the long, white-knuckle drive 26 rocky miles into the Racetrack Valley, but 4WD may be necessary at times.
  • Saline Valley Road: This rough yet graded dirt road travels 78 lonely miles from Highway 190 to Big Pine Death Valley Road. Although a high-clearance vehicle is suitable during good weather, 4WD may be necessary at times to access the remote Saline Valley.
  • Warm Spring Canyon to Butte Valley: The lower canyon is easily accessible, following a good graded road the first 11 miles to Warm Springs Camp. The upper canyon is harder to reach and requires 4WD into Butte Valley.

Jenna Blough

About the Author

Jenna Blough grew up on the edge of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where she was allowed to run wild, instilling a love of the outdoors early on. After her parents dragged her and her sister on a cross-country road trip of epic proportions (visiting American classics like Wall Drug in South Dakota, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and the Petrified Forest in Arizona) she developed an equal appreciation for Wild West roadside attractions, historic sites, and wilderness.

Jenna eventually found the California desert to be her geographic soul mate. Drawn by the austere beauty of Death Valley, she is fascinated by its cultural history, ghost towns, native sites, and the Mojave's shifting landscape.

Jenna received an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology, an MA in English literature, and an MFA in writing. When she's not living out of a tent, Jenna resides in Los Angeles with her husband Ryan Jones. Visit her blog at

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