Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

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hisdudeness48
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Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by hisdudeness48 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:49 pm

Hey there, I'm thinking about driving down 395 from Reno this weekend and entering north Death Valley through North Pass, coming down through Saline Valley and finding a campsite (suggestions welcome!) Then the next day I was thinking of heading back northeast towards Eureka Dunes (or somewhere in the area) to camp (more suggestions welcome!). Finally, I'm looking to exit the park by continuing up Eureka Valley Rd., meeting up with Highway 168 by Oasis, and head back to Reno on 95. This is a quick 2 night trip to a part of Death Valley I've never been before. It's March. The max elevation before North Pass looks to be 8100 feet (paved at this point, but is this road cleared?). That's pretty high... I'm also seeing it's rained (snowed?) recently. Is this route even passable? Should I plan for something else? I could also do an out and back coming in from the northeast, as that seems low enough. I'm driving an Outback with AT tires. Thoughts?

Here's the route I'm considering...

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Reno,+N ... 296329!3e0

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by Kauri » Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:34 pm

Your mapped route from Saline Valley Warm Springs to Eureka Dunes goes through Dedeckera Canyon and Steel Pass. In any conditions, that would be a nearly impossible route to do in a Subaru Outback, due to ground clearance. There is a YouTube video of some folks who were able to get a Subaru (not sure what model) through the Dedeckera steps, but they probably spent hours stacking rocks, and it would be very, very risky.

Here is a link to some of my photos of the Dedeckera steps (see pages 2-4), so you can get a better idea of what that road is like:
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... aDunes.pdf

Also, the road south of the Eureka Dunes has deep sand, and wouldn't be recommended for a vehicle without much ground clearance.

I'm not sure what the conditions are at this time for North Pass or the other roads you've mentioned; hopefully other folks on this forum can answer that.
Death Valley named locations map, and my trip reports: http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.com

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by TrailHound » Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:37 am

I drive an Outback myself. No way would I attempt Dedeckera in it based on the pictures.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by hisdudeness48 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:44 am

TrailHound wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:37 am
I drive an Outback myself. No way would I attempt Dedeckera in it based on the pictures.
Kauri wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:34 pm
Your mapped route from Saline Valley Warm Springs to Eureka Dunes goes through Dedeckera Canyon and Steel Pass. In any conditions, that would be a nearly impossible route to do in a Subaru Outback, due to ground clearance. There is a YouTube video of some folks who were able to get a Subaru (not sure what model) through the Dedeckera steps, but they probably spent hours stacking rocks, and it would be very, very risky.

Here is a link to some of my photos of the Dedeckera steps (see pages 2-4), so you can get a better idea of what that road is like:
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... aDunes.pdf

Also, the road south of the Eureka Dunes has deep sand, and wouldn't be recommended for a vehicle without much ground clearance.

I'm not sure what the conditions are at this time for North Pass or the other roads you've mentioned; hopefully other folks on this forum can answer that.
Yeah, I learned quickly after my post that Dedeckera Canyon is a no go, unfortunately. Now I'm just trying to see if I can get through Big Pine/DV Road/North Pass down to Saline Valley. If I can I'll just go the whole length to 190 (Hunter Mountain would be an option but that's probably impassable). There appears to be a little snow in the Inyos along the route right now (https://www.fs.fed.us/r5/webmaps/Sierra ... =-118.2895), but that could very well be gone by Friday. I am concerned about mud though. Hoping to hear from someone who has driven it this week or has some insight.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by TacoLand » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:48 am

Hey fellow Renoite ....

I was just down in DV a week ago. Driving from Lone Pine to Eureka Dunes, I saw the "Road Closed" sign was out at the turnoff for North Pass ... and this was before all the storms that just hit us, most likely turning stretches of those roads into a mud bath. And mud is worse than snow in my book.

I've driven North & South Pass, Hunter, etc., multiple times when "Road Closed" – but I'm in a modified 4Runner with decades of offroad experience, so not exactly a great person to follow the advice of.

And I see you're already getting info over on the Saline Preservation which is a much better spot for up to date info on those roads. But if I were in your position – with limited time, an Outback, and I'm not sure what sort of recovery gear / experience – I might shelve it for the time being.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by hisdudeness48 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:59 am

TacoLand wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:48 am
Hey fellow Renoite ....

I was just down in DV a week ago. Driving from Lone Pine to Eureka Dunes, I saw the "Road Closed" sign was out at the turnoff for North Pass ... and this was before all the storms that just hit us, most likely turning stretches of those roads into a mud bath. And mud is worse than snow in my book.

I've driven North & South Pass, Hunter, etc., multiple times when "Road Closed" – but I'm in a modified 4Runner with decades of offroad experience, so not exactly a great person to follow the advice of.

And I see you're already getting info over on the Saline Preservation which is a much better spot for up to date info on those roads. But if I were in your position – with limited time, an Outback, and I'm not sure what sort of recovery gear / experience – I might shelve it for the time being.
Thanks for the reply, Taco. What do you think of entering NE Death Valley, up by Oasis? I could easily do two nights just farting around the NE corner of the park (Eureka Dunes, Ubehebe, etc), which I've never been to either.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by TacoLand » Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:05 pm

Hrmm, Oasis? Jog my memory as to what / where that is? Sorry!

You'd have a good day of driving down 395 and could take road from Big Pine into Eureka or Hidden Dunes, and get a nice walk or hike in that evening.

In the morning you could always drive all the way to the mouth of Dedeckera / Steel and scout out on foot a little of what you would have been in for. This spot right here is the worst if memory serves me correctly. Basically navigating some steps / ledges up.

Whether or not you check it out, next step would be to drive back out the road you came in on and then go over Big Pine Road to Crankshaft Junction, then down to Ubehebe and spend the second night out at the end of the Racetrack or in Hidden Valley.

Conditions on the road out to the Racetrack / Hidden Valley would dictate how far in you could go due to potential mud. Do you have a full-size spare?

Also since Racetrack just caught weather that means you can't walk out on it. Which cuts down on the fun factor a bit for some people, but there's plenty of stuff to climb on in that area. Overnight temps in that area should be cold.

On the 3rd day you can head back north either via the way you came, or drop down to Daylight Pass out to Beatty and take that route home.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by hisdudeness48 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:38 pm

TacoLand wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:05 pm
Hrmm, Oasis? Jog my memory as to what / where that is? Sorry!

You'd have a good day of driving down 395 and could take road from Big Pine into Eureka or Hidden Dunes, and get a nice walk or hike in that evening.

In the morning you could always drive all the way to the mouth of Dedeckera / Steel and scout out on foot a little of what you would have been in for. This spot right here is the worst if memory serves me correctly. Basically navigating some steps / ledges up.

Whether or not you check it out, next step would be to drive back out the road you came in on and then go over Big Pine Road to Crankshaft Junction, then down to Ubehebe and spend the second night out at the end of the Racetrack or in Hidden Valley.

Conditions on the road out to the Racetrack / Hidden Valley would dictate how far in you could go due to potential mud. Do you have a full-size spare?

Also since Racetrack just caught weather that means you can't walk out on it. Which cuts down on the fun factor a bit for some people, but there's plenty of stuff to climb on in that area. Overnight temps in that area should be cold.

On the 3rd day you can head back north either via the way you came, or drop down to Daylight Pass out to Beatty and take that route home.
I was looking at this route here...

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Reno,+N ... 120272!3e0

Coming down Eureka Valley Road off of 168 is my thought. And yeah, I have a full size spare, plug kit, fix a flat, and a compressor.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by TacoLand » Tue Mar 17, 2020 4:02 pm

Ahhh, thanks for the link. Never come in through that exact route, but no reason it shouldn't work. Where were you thinking of camping 2nd night?

Personally I'd probably come in via Bishop / Lone Pine, and then go back up via Nevada, just for a change of scenery in the 6hr drive. I also prefer the food options in Bishop over Tonopah. Go figure.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by Sunman » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:28 pm

No issues with that route thru Dyer and north eureka valley road, though there are some washes that may have seen some action from the recent rain. Be advised that stretch is remote, and not as frequently traveled as other areas out there. As mentioned above, beware the silt beds south of eureka dunes, you’re certain to get stuck if you decide to scout out dedeckera canyon from the dunes.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by Daw89446 » Wed Mar 18, 2020 6:32 am

North Eureka Road out to Oasis often washes out at the Willow Wash and Cucomungo Canyon confluence. So much so that the road signs indicating caution has been painted “DANG WASHOUT.”

I’ve often found the road cut as much as 10’ deep with no signage except for orange cones across the road a few feet from each side of the cut. No closure signs at either end of the road. So you’ll likely just have to drive it for yourself. Since it’s not a high priority road, it’s often months before it is filled in and bladed.

If the confluence of the canyons is passable, often there is a lot of erosion damage north of there for a couple miles as you progress north along Willow Wash.

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by hisdudeness48 » Wed Mar 18, 2020 8:51 am

Daw89446 wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 6:32 am
North Eureka Road out to Oasis often washes out at the Willow Wash and Cucomungo Canyon confluence. So much so that the road signs indicating caution has been painted “DANG WASHOUT.”

I’ve often found the road cut as much as 10’ deep with no signage except for orange cones across the road a few feet from each side of the cut. No closure signs at either end of the road. So you’ll likely just have to drive it for yourself. Since it’s not a high priority road, it’s often months before it is filled in and bladed.

If the confluence of the canyons is passable, often there is a lot of erosion damage north of there for a couple miles as you progress north along Willow Wash.
Hmmm, this makes me a little concerned. Basically I now have to decide from a few different trips that seem to all have some risk...

1. Explore Saline Valley after entering via North Pass (snow/ice/mud) and leaving via South Pass
2. Explore Saline Valley after entering via South Pass and leaving via North Pass (snow/ice/mud). This hypothetically gives two more days for drying.
3. Explore the NE corner after entering from North Eureka Valley Road (potential mud/washouts)
4. Explore the NE corner after entering from Big Pine/Death Valley Road (avoids Willow Wash, but also has snow risk due to elevation)

I could also be extra safe and just enter and leave the park via Panamint Springs or Beatty, but that seems to be a ton of driving for a short trip if I'm exploring Saline Valley or the NE corner. Bah!

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Re: Proposed north DV loop coming in North Pass and exiting Eureka Valley Rd. March 20-22. Is this route passable?

Post by TacoLand » Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:29 am

4. Explore the NE corner after entering from Big Pine/Death Valley Road (avoids Willow Wash, but also has snow risk due to elevation)
If you drive in through Big Pine Road and then leave the park via Daylight Pass or even the dirt roads to Gold Point / Lida Junction you'll be fine.

Saline Valley (North / South Pass) & the other roads you were thinking about are your potential wildcards.

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