When thinking overland, there is nothing more exciting and scary sounding than the words, "Death Valley." This is only a couple of the reasons Warm Springs Road makes many different top 5 or top 10 offroad / overland trails lists. That is, Death Valley National Park might just be one of the best overland and 4x4 trips in all of California and possibly the United States. This unique off-road trip takes you down the historic and scenic backcountry of what might be one of the worlds most famous locations. Along this offroad trail, you will come across many abandoned mines, abandoned cabins, trickling streams, and even water crossings. Did we mention an abandoned swimming pool? Yes, that is right, a swimming pool in Death Valley.
Warm Springs trail itself is rather tame and easy to navigate for even the newest of offroad drivers. The trail is perfect for stock Toyota 4Runners, Tacoma's, Jeep Wranglers, and pickup trucks. But if you would like to make this trip into an exciting camping and overland trip, many offroad enthusiasts take this Jeep Trail all the way through the mountain range to Panamint Valley. To do this you take Warm Springs, to Butte Valley, then continue through Mengal Pass, to Goler Wash stopping at the Barker Ranch aka Manson Ranch, and dropping to Panamint Valley. Please note, the trail through Mengal Pass is much more difficult then Warm Springs Road. Stock vehicles are still capable of completing Mengel Pass but might need spotting or rock stacking to complete the trail. More equipped vehicles like the Jeep Rubicon, Toyota's TRD platform and P/U's like the Colorado ZR2 will be better suited for that section of the adventure. If you plan on this extended overland trip, plan this over a weekend because this trip takes about 2 days with all the scenic and historic stops along the trail. There is ample dispersed camping along the route and which the abandon cabins make for an awesome night of camping. Thus, when planning your next epic off-road vacation, think nothing less then Warm Springs Road / Canyon because this 4wd enthusiast overland trip is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.
7 day forecast for Warm Springs Road - Death Valley
From Shoshone, take Highway 178 for roughly 25 miles where the highway will curve to the right, changing the highway name to Badwater Road. Continue on Badwater Road for 4 miles and turn left on West Side Road (Dirt). This is 29 miles total from Shoshone. Take West Side Road for 3 miles and the trailhead will be on the left.
From Panamint Valley, take Goler Wash / Canyon to Mengal Pass to Butte Valley / Road. The trailhead is on the right side of Stripped Butte.
Beautiful trail, needs to take it slow and enjoy the view. 5000ft elevation gain from the bottom of the death valley to the Striped Butte. The road gets very rocky/bumpy in between Warm Spring Camp to the Butte, air down and rugged at/mt tires are a must. Any stock height 4x4 with Lo and proper at/mt tires should be able to finish the trail with no problem, awd crossovers need heavy modification for this trail.
What a great trail. You could easily spend all day exploring everything it has to offer. We came down the trail in the morning after camping in Butte valley. I'd say if West Side Road is rated 1-2 and Echo Canyon 3-4, this should be somewhere in the middle. Easily done with a stock high clearance vehicle. Nothing challenging but enough wash outs, ruts and rocks that I wouldn't take an AWD vehicle on it.
A beautiful day in Death Valley and plenty of other folks thought so too as we saw at least 20 vehicles from West Side Road to Ballarat. At waypoint 4, the short water crossing is now completely overgrown and impassible. What a shame the old equipment pictured has deteriorated so badly in the 4 years since I was last here. It's starting to look a bit like a junk pile now.
Joshua Noesser grew up in Southern California but has lived in different parts of the country during his young adult life. Josh was first turned to four wheeling when he road with one of his friends dad up Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Valley at age14. After nearly 3 different roll overs later and a half dozen intense waterfalls, Josh was hooked. At 16 he purchased his first Jeep a CJ 7 and by 17 was putting his first locker in it.
Currently, Josh is the owner and CEO of Nybble, an IT Solutions Company based in Orange County, California. Nybble isn't your normal IT company where everyone stays in and plays video games. Nybble's average company trip is out on the trails since a good amount of his staff enjoy wheeling too. As Josh likes to say, he offers the only IT Company with the ability to provide services in extreme locations. "If you want a server at the top of The Hammers, we will take care of that for you."
Today you can find Josh out on the trail behind the wheel in one of his three different off-road vehicles. See the vehicles below for more information.
If you ever run into Josh, please say high, he is a very friendly person and is always happy to have a new person join the group.