Getting to Stovepipe Wells Death Valley


We approached Death Valley by traveling north on highway 395 heading toward the town of Olancha.  I had read that you should fill up your vehicle with gas prior to entering the park, because the gas in the park was high.  I stopped at the Mobile station just before the turn off 395 onto highway 191.   The price was $5.25 per gallon.  I think that is high. Wish I had filled up 20 mile sooner at a price of $4.85. Turns out our destination of Stovepipe Wells had gas for only $5.05.  Go Figure!  With a full tank of gas we head toward the park.

As we drive toward Death Valley the road was flat and straight.  We enjoyed the view an Owens Lake, with its drying salt flats on the left.  We stop to take a picture of lake, with the snow-covered mountains of the Sequoia National Park in the background. Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental United States is up there somewhere.

Looking north toward Owens Lake

We eventually come to the Death Valley National Park sign.  We of course had to stop for a photo op. It is just our normal adventuring routine.

Death Valley National Park Sign

We move on and eventually come to a vista that over looked a deep canyon.  The vista is known as Father Crowley overlook.  Father Crowley was a catholic priest responsible for ministering to the people of Inyo County Parish in the 1930s.  He would always stop here and look at the view down Rainbow Canyon.  The canyon is right on the flight path for navel top-gun pilots.  A number of fighter jets flew low over the lookout, doing wing overs as they screened and rumbled down the canyon and across the valley floor below.  I missed getting pictures of them since I didn’t expect them.  If you are up this way you should stay here for a while to see them.

Rainbow Canyon

It was getting late in the day, so we push on.  The road down from Father Crowley lookout was steep windy and narrow, with some hairpin turns.  We took it real slow as we snaked our way down to the valley floor.  The RPOD had one tire close to the yellow line and the other almost on white line.  Going off the road here would be a death sentence.

A couple of fighter jet fly low right over our truck only a few hundred feet off the deck, as we crossing the valley floor.  They made the truck shake as they passed.  I’m wondering if the buzzed us as if they were making a strafing run at some hostel enemy target.

Once across the valley floor, we head up the grade toward Towne Pass.  We gained 4,000 feet of elevation from the valley floor to the 4,985-foot pass in just a handful of miles.  The climb was steep.  Glad I had the Ford F250 to pull our light little trailer up this grade, I would hate to be towing a trailer with a small SUV or car up this steep grade on a hot day.  If you have a tow vehicle where the trailer is maxing out your towing capacity don’t go this way into the valley.

Once over the pass we dropped back down nearly 5,000 feet to the valley floor.  We arrived at our destination, Stovepipe Wells around 4 pm.   The campground has an elevation of 2 feet, and the ranger station about 200 yards away is at sea-level.

We dumped our holding tank, fill up with fresh water and then found a camp spot.  As we were setting up, the sun goes down over the mountains to the west.  Can’t wait to start exploring Death Valley over the days to come.

Sunset at Stovepipe Wells campground 

Looking east from our camp spot