Butte Valley

Furnace Creek, California (Inyo County)

Last Updated: 04/25/2018
5 / 5 ( 2 reviews )
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Highlights

Highlight: Butte Valley
In the middle of nowhere on the backside of the Panamint Mountain Range lays a secret of the desert. Even though it is extremely remote (60+ miles to the nearest town) this gem of the desert is a popular place for overlanders and off-road enthusiast to visit. Butte Valley, on the southeastern corner of Death Valley, is a unique and exciting place only accessible by 4wd on very old Jeep Trails. While visiting the area be prepared for some amazing views of lands where very few humans have ever been. You will dive into the old mining days of Panamint Mountains as you enter an area that was constructed back in the late 1800's. Becuase of the immense history, offroad enthusiasts have been visiting this unique wonderland for a long time, both enjoying its beauty and preserving it for future generations. Thus, the next time you are visiting Southern California or looking for something near Las Vegas, plan a trip to Death Valley and check out Butte Valley. To spice things up, make this into a weekend overland adventure including Warm Springs Road, Butte Valley, Mengel Pass, and Goler Wash. This just might be the best 4wd trip you have or will ever take.

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Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
2WD Vehicle with High Clearance
Concerns:
Summary:
The trail is mostly dirt roads with some soft sand in places.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
2
EASY
OPTIONAL
3
MODERATE
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.
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Description

Butte Valley (aka Butte Valley Road) is one of the secret off-road overland adventures of Death Valley. Up on top of the Panamint Mountain Range rest a small mining town from a long time ago. The area is known for the stunning views and old mining cabins you can still camp in. Just be prepared because there are no services of any sort for over 4 hours away at the fastest. The roads to the east are the easiest route while the road out to the west is the shortest. The trails in Butte Valley and on Warm Springs Road are rated easy and are mostly dirt roads with some small rocks. This trip is perfect for all off-road enthusiast including beginners and novice off-roaders. Always leave the area in better condition than when you showed up. Pack out others trash if you find any and never remove any historical items. Milage will not be given since you take can many different routes to navigate the area. The mileage shown at the top is stopping at all the locations in a clockwise manner.

Waypoints

1. Butte Valley and Mengel Pass (0 mi)
The south side of the valley is connected to Mengel Pass. Mengel Pass is the hardest part of the overland adventure that a 4x4 enthusiast will have to complete when traveling over the mountain range to or from Panamint area.
2. Russell Cabin (0.8 mi)
The first cabin from when heading north is Russell Cabin. The cabin is tucked back up a small valley to the left and can be easily missed. Russell Cabin was the first cabin built in Butte Valley by Asa Russell and was believed to be built around the late1880's.
3. Mengel Cabin (1.2 mi)
Mengel Cabin is the next along the route if heading clockwise through the Valley. The cabin was built by Carl Mengel, a German Prospector. He built the cabin around 1924 after filling for claims near the Anvil Spring.
4. Geologist Cabin and Anvil Springs (2.2 mi)
The Geologist Cabin built in the 1930's is relatively young compared to the other cabins in the area. The cabin was built by Asa Russell aka Panamint Russ when he started working a nearby claim. At the foot of the cabin is Anvil Springs. This used to be the location of a 3 stamp mill because of the water source.
5. Redland Canyon (3.6 mi)
Not far past the Geologist Cabin is Redlands Canyon. Redlands Canyon heads off to the west. The canyon does not go through thus you have to exit back through Butte Valley. There is an additional mining camp down Redlands Canyon.
6. Stripped Butte Turn Off (4.6 mi)
There is a small road that takes you to the base of the Stripped Butte. The Stripped Butte is one of the attractions of the area is the "Stripped Butte". This hill is comprised of several different minerals making for vivid colors that have been trusted out of the earth in a sloping motion, thus looking like a desert zebra.
7. Major Connector - 4-Way (7.1 mi)
Towards the center of the valley is a 4-way crossroad. The trail heading off to the north takes you to Warm Springs Road The trail heading to the west takes you to the cabins and Redlands Canyon The trail heading to the south takes you to Mengel Pass The trail heading to the east takes you to Willow Spring
8. Turn Off To Lower Springs Area (8.6 mi)
As you approach Willow Springs, you have the option of making a left turn which takes you to the lower springs area. There was a trail that used to leave this area, but it is now closed.
9. Willow Spring (8.8 mi)
Willow Springs is in the southeast corner of Butte Valley. The area is has been rather dry lately, thus you will not likely see any water.
10. Lower Springs (9.3 mi)
Lower Willow Springs Area. This is also the lowest point in Buttel Valley, thus the water if it rains will drain through this narrow canyon.
11. Trail Closed (9.4 mi)
Old trail that has been closed by the park service.
12. Warm Springs Road ( mi)
If you plan on exiting through Warm Springs Road into Death Valley National Park. You will follow this road to the north past Stripped Butte.
13. Stripped Butte ( mi)
One of the attractions of the area is the "Stripped Butte". This hill is comprised of several different minerals making for vivid colors that have been trusted out of the earth in a sloping motion, thus looking like a desert zebra.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Shoshone, CA

***East Trailhead*** 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 then turn left onto Warm Springs Road. Take Warm Springs Road to where it drops into Butte Valley. ***West Trailhead*** From Panamint Valley, take Goler Wash / Canyon to Mengel Pass. Mengel Pass ends in Buttle Valley.

Camping

Dispersed
Improved
This area has several common use (first come first serve) miners cabins. Usually, the cabins are available in Butte Valley because of the remote nature of the area. If you plan on staying at the Cabins, make sure you have back up planned such as a tent just in case they are already taken. Always leave the area in better condition than when you showed up. Pack out others trash if you find any and never remove any historical items. Also, just because there are locks, doesn't mean you get to take the key. The locks are there to keep the animals out. If you choose to leave the cabin with your stuff inside, leave a way for people to get in. These are common use cabins, not hotel rooms.
Camping: Butte Valley

Trail Reviews (2)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: Was driving into Willow Springs intentional due to some Germans?
–Eduardo (03/05/2018)
A: Yes, a German family did die down the canyon some time back if that is what you are asking.
–Josh Noesser (03/05/2018)

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California

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.
For individual use only, not to be shared.