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Death Valley Route Suggestions

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Death Valley Route Suggestions

Old 08-03-12, 03:45 PM
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Death Valley Route Suggestions

So I am in the very early phases of planning a tour of Death Valley for late winter/early spring 2013. I would like to come up with a loop route, probably have a week to 10 days for ride time (not including travel too and from) and am thinking that I would probably start and end in Las Vegas as that seems to be the closest city to fly into. I have done a fair amount of searching around the internet (blogs, forums, etc) to help me figure out my route. It seems I can not find any instance of people riding hwy 95 out of Vegas, everyone seems to come through Pahrump on 160 out of Vegas. Is there a problem with 95?

I was hoping to route from Vegas on 95 to Beatty NV, drop in to Death Valley from Beatty, spend a few days in death valley and cycle back to Las Vegas through Pahrump, essentially making a loop. I am totally open to suggestions but would prefer not to do an out-and-back if I can avoid it (i.e. in and out via Pahrump). I guess I am looking for some insight into the bicycling conditions on Hwy 95 and whether a loop like I described would be a good or bad idea.

Also any suggestions about touring in the area in general would be welcome.

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Old 08-03-12, 05:13 PM
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Here are 3 links to information about bike touring in Death Valley.

I don't know if you will find them useful but they might be a good place to start.
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Old 08-03-12, 06:14 PM
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Another DV biketouring page that doesn`t often get linked:
and the information that people gave me prior to a trip I took out there in March:
also several other Crazyguyonabike journals (my personal favorite was by Wayne Estes) that will come up with a search on that site.

My guess is that 95 has a lot more traffic than 160, but I`ve never ridden either and its been so long since I`ve driven them that I couldn`t say for sure. While you COULD ride in and out from LV, I don`t think I`d care to because it would eat up at least half of your trip. Whichever way you route yourself, you`ll spend a long time riding the shoulders next to all that noisy traffic instead of in the park where there`s still traffic, but really not too bad. For what its worth, I noticed that Beatty has a Warmshowers host now. I toyed with the idea of starting and ending from that host`s house, but decided against it because of time constraints. If its just that you don`t like out-and-back routes (I don`t either), you could still make any of various possible loops much closer to the park- you`ll get plenty of ideas for closer-in loops by reading around. The one real advantage to starting and ending in LV you`d lose by starting anywhere else is that you`d have to rent a car. There`s no bus to anywhere around there. CGOAB journal by Bill Hoadley involves flying in and out of LV and renting a car there for a DV ride. How ever you do it, have fun!
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Old 08-06-12, 09:56 AM
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You can ride most of 95.You can't ride it through town though.From where 515 and 95 meet north to Ann st is closed to bicycles.You can cut through town on Rancho dr back to 95 then continue on.https://www.bicyclenevada.com/

I would continue past Beatty and come in the park on 267,that will take you by Scotty's Castle if you want to see it.

There is not much traffic once out of town,and even less people and even less water.There are only a couple of small towns and 2-3 tiny airports in the middle of nowhere.

I think temp wise,the best time to see Death Valley is in Jan-Feb.If you must see wild flowers,try to be there no later than mid April,after that it starts getting real hot.

By April,it can get close to the 100's during the day and 70's at night.

Have fun! It's a great place! Load up on water every chance you have.

Last edited by Booger1; 08-06-12 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 08-06-12, 01:48 PM
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I would take issue with any suggestion of riding 95 north out of Vegas. Near the city, it is a 4-lane divided highway, and carries a large volume of commuter traffic in addition to the regular inter city vehicle traffic. It is the major artery between LV and the Reno/Tahoe/Carson City area; semis and RV's being big users. The 4-lane portion of the highway ends near the turnoff towards Mercury, NV, about 65 miles from the LV Beltway - Hwy 215. It then becomes typical high desert inter city highway, 70MPH, with minimal [ 2 feet] of what could be called shoulder, although it is really rumble strip! You would have to negotiate another 50-55 miles of 2-lane to get to Beatty. I've ridden small portions of 95, principally between Lathrop Wells and Hwy 160, about 17 miles worth. After a few really close calls I decided that it wasn't safe under any stretch of the imagination, and I've been riding ultra events for the past 20+ years!

As much as you may have distaste for out-and-back routes, it would be the safer choice to ride over the Spring Mountains and into Pahrump, thence onward to Furnace Creek. The LV end of 160 is also very convenient to the airport, whether you decide to ride from there, or take a rental car. It is 60 miles from LV to Pahrump, and another 60 to Furnace Creek via Death Valley Junction. An alternative route would be via Shoshone, into the park thru the southern entrance - Bad Water Road - 100 miles. NV160 is the primary connection between Pahrump and LV but does have a wide shoulder for cyclists; lots of tourers spotted during the cooler months. To accommodate your "loop route" desires, you could ride into the valley from Pahrump thru DV Junction, and then ride out via Bad Water Rd and Shoshone back Pahrump.

As has been noted, there are MINIMAL resupply points between LV and DV. Basically, if you aren't carrying it, you won't have but a couple of chances to buy it. Water being the most critical of course. I'd recommend the months of October, November, February and March as the most hospitable times to visit the park; temps are moderate both day and night. December and January can be downright nasty, with overnight low's in the 20's and 30's; Zero is not an unheard of overnight low either! Daytime highs would be in the 50's and 60's, with the fairly consistent northerly winds. Not my preferred time of year to ride! Of course, right now is not very hospitable either. We're in the midst of our monsoon cycle [July & August] which fluctuates between the 100-and-stupids, with virtually no humidity, and the low/mid 90's with t-storms and a ton of humidity. And it changes from day to day! Months on the cusp would be late September, and April to mid May; warm during the days, cooling down quite nicely over night.

FWIW, I live in Pahrump and ride just about every day it isn't blowing 25+ mph, or raining! Hot days are handled by starting at 0-dark-30 when it's in the 60-70 range and finishing up by 9-10AM; it starts cooking after then! The most important piece of advice I can give you is HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Even during the monsoons, the overall relative humidity down here is in single digits, and that's summer or winter!

If you have any specific questions, PM me.
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Old 08-06-12, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for your input everyone. I was excited to read Booger1's post, and while it may be legal to ride HWY 95, if a local will not ride it (thanks for the detailed post 200miler) I think it best to stay away. I have and do ride a lot of highways in my neck of the woods (North Central Washington; you pretty much have to if you want to ride around here). I am leary of a 70 mph highway that is lacking in shoulders.

I am trying to avoid renting a car. To me that somehow kills the independence of a bike tour, plus you have to pay for a car that you are not driving and it still becomes and out and back. If anyone knows of any shuttles or transportation services that could take us to a start place, any start place really, please let me know. I really couldn't find anything online.

If not I guess we will ride through Pahrump and back, and still love every minute of it.
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