Death Valley: land of extremes. A wonderful and mysterious place, this valley supports nearly 1,000 native plant species on only two inches of rain per year. Desert winds whisper through the valley floor 282 feet below sea level and, 15 miles west, the 11,000-foot Telescope Peak remains shrouded in snow and ice until late spring.
Stretch your legs on this early season, van-supported adventure and pedal past sand dunes, hot springs, canyons, rock formations, and an incredible variety of plant and animal life. We’ll explore the maze of wildly eroded and colorful badlands that are Death Valley, and we’ll retrace the route of the ’49ers and pioneers who arrived via ox-drawn wagons on the Old Spanish Trail to this special place in eastern California.
We’ll enjoy spectacularly clear nights and embrace desert solitude on this seven-day tour.
|Start Date:||Mar 21, 2015||End Date:||Mar 27, 2015|
|Start Location:||Las Vegas, NV||End Location:||Las Vegas, NV|
|Total Days:||7||Riding Days:||5|
|Average Daily Mileage:||63.6||Surface:||Paved|
|Riders:||13||Airport:||McCarran Intl. (Las Vegas, NV; (LAS)|
|Tour Leader:||Barb Wade, Sue Davendonis||Meals:||Shared cooking|
|Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+||Level of Support:||Van Supported|
Pahrump. Meet the rest of your group for an orientation in Pahrump, Nevada, a town blessed with both mountains and desert. Here, you'll have your first map meeting, get acquainted with your fellow riders and tour leaders, and enjoy dinner. Before bedtime, perhaps you'll have time to take an evening spin through the streets, soaking up the muted desert hues and the grandeur of the nearby peaks.
Pahrump to Furnace Creek, 62 miles. Today you'll pedal west into Death Valley National Park, now celebrating 75 years as a protected desert ecosystem. You'll pass Zabriskie Point, a famous viewpoint with a spectacular photo-op of the badlands. Unlike the kangaroo rat, cyclists cannot go for months without water — so stay hydrated as you continue towards your campsite at Furnace Creek, a hot spring that served as the stopping point for the original '49ers.
Furnace Creek to Mesquite Campground, 52 miles. After you toss your camping gear into the van and down a substantial breakfast, you'll be ready for a ride through the northern part of Death Valley. As you spin along the paved road, watch for the tracks of wagons that rolled between the mining boomtowns of Rhyolite, Nevada, and Skidoo, California. Finally, ascending above sea level, your group will pass the narrows of Titus Canyon, perhaps spotting a big horn sheep or two, and roll into camp.
Mesquite Campground to Scotty's Castle to Furnace Creek, 70 miles. Death Valley Scotty, born in 1872, managed to convince several wealthy business owners to invest in a bogus Death Valley gold mine, which he assured them was worth millions. Among the bamboozled men was Chicago insurance mogul Walter Johnson, who actually built a desert retreat in the valley, a replica of a Spanish Manor house complete with a theatre and chimes tower. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 1929, and his poor investment choices, kept Johnson's plans of two man-made lakes from becoming a reality. But the "castle" is splendid in its own right, and an amazing window into the decadence and excitement of the Roaring Twenties. As for Scotty? He lived on the property and enjoyed telling folks that the building was his own.
Layover day in Furnace Creek. Today you'll have several options: a shuttle to the top of Emigrant Pass (5,218 feet) for a rowdy downhill on lightly traveled roads with brilliant views of the park. Or you could take on a tough 25-mile uphill to Dante's View, a mountain-top viewpoint often described as "the most breathtaking in the park." Of course you could also relax around camp, appreciating the local flora and fauna or explore the park on one of the numerous hiking trails nearby.
Furnace Creek to Shoshone, 82 miles. Well rested, you and your posse will head out, passing the nearly evaporated Lake Manley, which, at one point filled the entire valley. Maybe you'll catch sight of a tiny Pupfish, a remnant of those wetter days, forced to adapt to dry conditions by learning to live in water five times as salty as the ocean. You, on the other hand, will be heading to some of the best hot mineral springs as you top out over Salsberry pass and coast down to Tecopa Hot Springs Campground.
Shoshone to Pahrump, 52 miles. Today's route is along a section of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. You will roll along the same path taken by thousands of Mexican and American traders as they transferred wool, California-bred mules, and other treasures back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico. You'll be carrying your own brand of riches as you pedal back to Pahrump and shuttle back to Las Vegas with a group of new friends and a stellar week of cycling under your belt.
"The beauty of Death Valley was a new experience for me ... the stars at night, the group, and the leaders were fantastic."
2012 Tour Participant
"The trip leaders went out of their way, above and beyond the call of duty, to insure that we had a great trip."
2010 Tour Participant
"The National Park was beautiful! Nice weather, a fun group and helpful group leaders made this a wonderful trip. "
2014 Tour Participant
"The Death Valley tour is must-do for any "adventure" cyclist. It takes you to a part of the United States that is as beautiful as it is remote. What a great way to start off your biking year!"
2011 Tour Participant