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.
"Van-supported tours are great. You focus on the riding experience, and don't have to bring your own gear from campground to campground. The scenery in Death Valley is incredible. Truly breathtaking. With a smaller group like this, you get to know your fellow cyclists well. I enjoyed all of their company."
2012 Tour Participant
"Our leaders were world-class. They were completely focused on making this a solid, safe and memorable event for all riders. Major Kudus to Chuck Pengilly and Arlen Hall. They were truly outstanding."
2013 Tour Participant
"All in all an experience of a lifetime. We met wonderful people, had good laughs, loved sleeping in the cool dark nights with the sky filled with stars, had a close up view of a coyote along the road, enjoyed the many Spring flowers and the impressive beauty of Mother Nature in Death Valley. The small group of people clicked well and everyone enjoyed riding at their own pace/capacity. Thanks for making this trip possible."
2011 Tour Participant
"I very much enjoyed the terrain/scenery, leaders and other participants. I loved not having to worry about logistics."
2014 Tour Participant