|Typically Open:||Year Round|
|Permit Information:||Permit Required - Click Here|
|Highest Elevation:||-19 feet|
|Duration:||About 2 hours|
|Shape of Trail:||Straight Through|
|Best Direction to Travel:||N/A|
|Nearest Town:||Furnace Creek|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Furnace Creek|
|Official Road Name:||West Side Road|
|Management Agency:||Death Valley National Park|
Don't be fooled by the easy 4x4 trail rating, this Death Valley National Park backcountry route has a history of being deadly for the unprepared. Almost every year some unfortunate gets stuck, breaks down, and in some cases just wander off and perish along this road. This 37-mile backcountry route runs below sea level for its entire length. It was the original route of the 20 Mule Team Borax wagons out of Death Valley and offers the only access to the east side of the Panamint Mountains south of Furnace Creek. Along the route, mining was active at the Queen of Sheba mine as recently as 1970, Hungry Bill had a small farm and mining operation in Johnson Canyon that he supplied miners with fresh vegetables. The infamous Charles Manson and his followers were captured at Barker Ranch which is on the west side of the Panamint Mountains and accessible from the Butte Valley Road that intersects West Side Road. Death Valley Shorty, a former Buffalo Bill Wild West Show performer and famous flim-flam man for which Scotty's Castle is named, is buried along the road. There are the remains of old borax works and the nearly impassable Devil's Golf Course geologic formation is comprised of evaporated salt.
Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 8" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 9" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 12" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep but with good traction.Read more about our rating system
Turn west onto West Side Road. The turnoff is well marked. You will encounter a gate at the Trailhead and an information sign cautioning you before you embark
Continue straight ahead through the gate. Butte Valley Road is the only through road in the southern Panamint Mountains and crosses them at Mengal Pass. The historic Warm Springs Camp is located along this route with extensive mining equipment and ruins, a cookhouse, and even a swimming pool. On the west side of the range along this route is Barker Ranch, the location where the infamous Charles Manson gang was apprehended.
Continue straight. The Queen Of Sheba Mine operated until the early 1970's. There are extensive mine ruins at the end of this road.
Continue straight ahead. There were five separate talc mines along this road
Continue straight. A local Shoshone Indian named Hungry Bill and his family lived, farmed vegetables, and mined in Johnson Canyon. A hiking trail to the old farmstead starts at the end of Johnson Canyon Road
Continue straight ahead. Memorial marking the approximate location where emigrants camped for nearly 2 months awaiting the return of explorers from their party to return, The explorers were looking for an exit route out of Death Valley.
Continue straight ahead. This is the site of the Eagle Borax Works that operated until 1884.
Continue straight. This is the grave marker of Walter Scott, former Buffalo Bill Wild West Show performer, infamous flim-flam man, and the namesake of Scotty's Castle which Scott told everyone was his, but was owned and built by Alfred Johnson.
Continue Straight. This nine-mile road was built in 1932 with a pick, crowbar, shovel, a small amount of dynamite, and burro power for the Big Horn and Big Horn Extension mines. The road to the east goes a short distance to Shorty's Well.
Continue straight ahead. Mining ruins can be explored at the end of the road, and a difficult hiking trail over Emigrant Pass follows the old washed out road beyond.
Continue straight ahead. This unusual hard packed geologic formation is called The Devil's Golf Course". It is comprised of evaporated salt.
End of Trail. Turn north 6 miles to go to Furnace Creek, while 10 miles to the south is the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin.
No camping is allowed along the West Side Road. Dispersed camping is allowed along the canyon roads no less than 1 mile off of the West Side Road. The nearest public campground is at Furnace Creek.