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High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

San Diego...
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High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Hello,

I am visiting DV between the 23rd and the 26th of this month.

My trip is almost planned. I wanted to clarify if visiting any of these places would require a high clearance vehicle? We are renting a 4WD SUV from Vegas.

Artist's Drive, Badwater, Dante's View, Devil's Golfcourse, Zabrinskie Point, Marble/Titus Canyon (we want to hike here and not necessarily drive), Ubehebe Crater, Mesquite Flat Dunes.

I am going to camp one night at Furance Creek and the other night somewhere close to Stove-pipe wells.

I love hiking, so I don't mind getting as far as my car would take me and then hike from there (short hikes since I am only spending 3 days in DV).

I will be renting a jeep from Farabees for my final day (too expensive to rent for all 3 days) and drive to the Racetrack. Are there other places I could explore with the jeep? I have all of 26th to explore.

I would appreciate your advice.

Thanks.

Avi

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

This is the detailed map that shows where you should have a high clearance vehicle: nps.gov/deva/…DEVAmap1a.pdf

And this is a basic map that is easier to see all the 'attractions' on one page: americansouthwest.net/california/death_valle…

>> Marble/Titus Canyon <<

These are two very different canyons & places. Marble Canyon is west of Stovepipe Wells. I haven't been there, but it looks challenging to access without a high clearance vehicle & hours to hike. Hopefully one of the DVNP regulars can share more details.

Titus Canyon is a one way drive for high clearance vehicles, but you can hike into the 'exit' end.

The other main canyon that you're missing from your list is Mosaic Canyon. It's near Stovepipe Wells; the trailhead is accessible with a regular car.

I'd add 20 Mule Team Canyon to your itinerary. It's just a short one-way drive, but I think it's pretty cool. There are a few places to stop if you have time.

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Here's one option for your day with the Farabee's rental. A short detour from Teakettle Junction (on the way back from the Racetrack) will take you to Lost Burro Mine. You'll need a decent map to find it since it's not shown on the NPS park map that PacificNWFamily linked to.

I have only been there once (about two years ago). The road from Teakettle Junction was about the same condition as Racetrack Rd and takes you through a nice set of narrows. The road to the mine itself is a single track that will require high centering. We stopped about a quarter mile from the site, at a washout that I was not willing to tackle in my rental Jeep (which was not from Farabee's). With a proper vehicle it would have been doable, even with my limited 4WD experience. I was able to pull off to the side and turn around pretty easily in a wide spot, so we elected to hike the final few hundred yards rather than drive.

Most of the other "4 wheel fun" in that part of the park requires more 4WD experience than I have, plus the Park Service recommends that you carry chains in those areas (in winter) due to the possibility of snow at the higher elevations. Racetrack plus Lost Burro Mine was a full day's trip for us (in late November), so I don't think you'd have time to do much else.

-JimG

San Diego...
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3. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Thanks a lot folks.

My original plan was to enter the park through 374 and then connect to 190 through the Titus Canyon Road (the Ghost Town route), hiking into Titus or Fall Canyon on the way.

But if that is not recommended using a 4WD SUV, then I would simply connect to 190 directly, make my way upto north to the Titus Canyon Parking lot (on Scotty's Castle Road) and then hike the Canyon.

20 Mule team canyon should be doable on the 2nd day, which I have set aside for all the "drives" around the Furnace Creek area. I have to see if i can pack in Mosaic Canyon though.

The plan right now:

Day 1: Drive into DV from 374. Fall/Titus Canyon; Ubehebe Crater (will do the rim trail hike if time permits); Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes for sunset/star gazing and if possible some night-time photography. Camp at Furnace Creek.

Day 2: Sunrise at Zabrinksie Point; drives around that region (Artist, Devil's golf course); Sunset at Dante's View. I maybe able to squeeze in Mosaic Canyon here during the day/afternoon, but that might be asking for too much given the 1 hr drive to and from Furnace Creek.

Day 3: Farabees jeep rental; drive to Racetrack and back. i might explore the side trails that Jim suggested.

Typically how much time should I allow for the Racetrack to and from Furnace Creek? I want to plan such that I can photograph sunset/dusk at Racetrack...maybe even the night sky. Can I pack in something else to accommodate this plan?

I hope I am not being too ambitious (Day 1 seems a bit of a stretch to me, but I can remove/cut-short some hikes).

Thanks a lot guys!

Avi

San Diego...
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4. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Btw...do I have to register at any of the stations even before I start exploring? I don't think I am going to do any backcountry/overnight hiking, so I don't think I need a back-country permit.

Thought I would not mind back-country camping on Day 2, somewhere close to Furnace Creek since I need to pick up the car the next day.

Avi

Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

You have verified that you can take your rental vehicle on unpaved roads? Exact road conditions can vary by day, so you'd want to verify conditions from the park's rangers when you arrive or shortly before. Be very careful, since if you get stuck you could be there a long time-- cell phone converage can be spotty at best-- and getting towed out could cost a LOT of money if you do get word out.

The park's Web site has useful info at nps.gov/deva/… and includes this:

"Most vehicle rental agreements restrict vehicles to paved roads. Check your contract and be aware that the rental company can charge you for damage to the vehicle outside of the contract agreement specifications.

Be sure that your rental vehicle has a good spare tire, that the tire is accessible and not "locked" into a keyed holder, and that the tools to change the tire, including jacks and wrenches, are in the vehicle and accessible.

Farabee's Jeep Rentals now have an outlet located in Furnace Creek. These jeeps are outfitted for rugged backcountry road use."

Edited: 09 December 2012, 18:13
San Diego...
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6. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Sutter,

From the plans I have made, I think the only back-country road on my trip would be the one to Racetrack, for which I plan on renting a jeep from Farabees...

I won't do the Titus Canyon road if its going to be a problem with a rental vehicle. Otherwise, I will stick to 190.

But does the drive to the Titus Canyon parking lot (from 190) and other places like Zabrinksie point qualify as backcountry drives?

Avi

Tucson, Arizona
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7. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Reading your post I am a bit concerned. You do realize I guess that Titus Canyon Rd is one way starting up near Beaty and continuing through the canyon and out the other end and is sandy, can be rough going over the top, and I always recommend a 4 WD high clearance although folks make it in other vehicles depending on the road condition that day. It will take you quite a while to drive Titus, minimu 2.5 hours but realistcally stopping and looking and maybe hiking a bit, at least 4 to 8 hours. Fall Canyon is next door so to speak, but requires about a four to five hour hike from the Titus Parking lot at the south end of Tituis along the base of the mountains and then up Fall to the first dry fall. You can maneuver around the first dry fall if you wish and are secure enough of a hiker and climber ( taking a rope is always a good idea if you are going up a dryfall...you need to come back!). If you go past the dry fall on Fall be prepared for a much longer and brilliant by the way, hike. If you are just foing to drive from the south to the parking lot of Titus it is an easy gravel road and you can easily take any rental vehicle from a Mini to a Toyota or ?

ZB

San Diego...
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8. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Hi ZB,

Yes...I am aware that it is one way, but that is not a problem since I am entering DV from 374.

But as you have mentioned, I am having second thoughts about doing the drive through Titus Canyon Road.

My current plan is simply take 374 all the way to 190 and then travel north to get to the "exit end" of the Canyon and do some hiking......

Avi

Washington State
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9. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Avi

We drove the 'exit' end of Titus Canyon in our rental car. I think almost every car on that 2 mile dirt/gravel road was a rental including the top-down red convertible.

We hiked a good ways up Fall Canyon, and then went back to the car as it was getting hot. While I rummaged through our cooler for lunch, my husband & son hiked into the exit end of Titus Canyon. Of course they felt that Titus Canyon was far superior to Fall Canyon (so I missed out on the 'good' hike), but perhaps that was because we had recently done several hikes like Fall Canyon.

Zabriskie Point has loads of people & tour busses. There is nothing remote about this viewpoint. Street View: http://goo.gl/maps/QotaZ

Twenty Mule Team Canyon is also a gravel / dirt road. Street View: http://goo.gl/maps/q6CBV Photo: …google.com/lh/photo/UOx8ZJK7IdmDfl_W4MHjEw

You can see which are gravel roads by looking at that official DVNP map.

San Francisco
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10. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

No need for any major new suggestions from me---lots of good advice and ideas.

One "must" is to find out each day’s current weather and road conditions. In winter, rain, snow, and ice can impact travel, on frontcountry as well as backcountry roads and even some of the main roads like Emigrant-Wildrose, Badwater, or North Highway. The Racetrack and Titus Canyon (and Dante’s View, which is frontcountry) are at higher elevations, so winter weather can cause them to be closed.

The park Morning Report is available each day by 9:00 a.m. at the visitor center, ranger stations, and resorts. It is also on the park’s website. The phone tree has become very user-unfriendly and cumbersome, and doesn’t seem to be updated on a regular basis now. I don’t know what’s going on with that. Maybe I can find out.

** "Btw...do I have to register at any of the stations even before I start exploring? I don't think I am going to do any backcountry/overnight hiking, so I don't think I need a back-country permit." **

There's no mandatory registration or permitting for backcountry exploring. Even for backpacking or backcountry camping, registration is voluntary. The purpose, according to the park policy statements, is “to gather backcountry use statistical data and provide vital information for rescuers in cases of emergency.” IOW, if you don’t register and no one knows where you are or when you left, and you get in serious trouble, you could be in deep doo-doo and become part of future statistical data after someone stumbles on whatever the coyotes and vultures don’t finish.

For backcountry day trips, it’s always recommended that you inform a reliable party of your plans, including approximate destinations and a reasonable return time. No one sticks to a precise timetable, but if you said you were going to Telescope Peak but end up at Fall Canyon, no one is going to be searching Fall Canyon when you go missing. Your cell phone won’t do you any good in most of the park. If you leave your plans with someone, be sure and check back with them on your return!

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