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High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Fishkill, New York
posts: 170
reviews: 21
High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs


I am visiting DV between the 23rd and the 26th of this month.

My trip is almost planned. I wanted to clarify if visiting any of these places would require a high clearance vehicle? We are renting a 4WD SUV from Vegas.

Artist's Drive, Badwater, Dante's View, Devil's Golfcourse, Zabrinskie Point, Marble/Titus Canyon (we want to hike here and not necessarily drive), Ubehebe Crater, Mesquite Flat Dunes.

I am going to camp one night at Furance Creek and the other night somewhere close to Stove-pipe wells.

I love hiking, so I don't mind getting as far as my car would take me and then hike from there (short hikes since I am only spending 3 days in DV).

I will be renting a jeep from Farabees for my final day (too expensive to rent for all 3 days) and drive to the Racetrack. Are there other places I could explore with the jeep? I have all of 26th to explore.

I would appreciate your advice.



Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Dusseldorf
posts: 2,853
reviews: 366
21. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

The road to Aguereberry Point is actually pretty easy. You just need to be careful at the very end to park and walk the last little distance. It is not tire eating like the Racetrack road.

Vegetarian is no problem at any of the restaurants in the park. Beatty has a good pizza place.

The beauty of Death Valley is that there is a photo op every time you turn around. They are everywhere. Since you are a hiker I encourage you to get just a little bit off the road. It is amazing what you can find.


San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,339
reviews: 42
22. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

I don’t think there’s any issue of knocking sense into your head. You’ve been more prudent and sensible about your trip than some TAs, and some of the people I’ve seen while working in the park.

It's understandable that people coming from across the country, or across oceans, would want to see the Racetrack. It is not an impossible trip, but my own feeling is that for first-time visitors with 2-3 days, they should spend the time seeing more of the major sights on the main paved and good unpaved (gravel or hard dirt) roads. There is plenty to see along 190, Badwater Road, North Highway, and Emigrant-Wildrose Road, and the automobile-friendly roads to Mosaic Canyon, Devil’s Golf Course, Natural Bridge, Artist’s Drive, 20 Mule Canyon, Salt Creek, and other fascinating and beautiful sights.

Aguereberry CAMP is an early 20th century mining settlement that has a few ramshackle buildings and bits and pieces of 1930s and 1940s cars. It belonged to a Basque prospector named Jean-Pierre “Pete” Aguereberry, who emigrated from France as a young man and stayed around Death Valley for the rest of his life. He is buried in Lone Pine. If you walk around the back, you can see and walk to nearby mine mill and headframe structures. There’s no lighting at most historic mine sites, so night wouldn’t be good for sightseeing. You could go in the afternoon to see things and then wait for sunset. The road is very rough gravel to the camp, but a regular car can go on it (very slowly).

Old car parts are an interesting part of the DV mining story. Obviously, 19th or early 20th century miners didn’t have them. DV became a national monument in 1933 (and a national park in 1994), and some mining went on for decades, including a lot of commercial mining. During the Great Depression, many unemployed individuals (not necessarily miners by trade) went there to prospect, in a desperate attempt to make a living. Similarly, many of the poor camped along rivers in Yosemite and fished to feed themselves. The 1930s and 1940s DV prospectors brought cars, and they often stripped them to use the engines, transmissions, driveshafts, belts, and radiators in makeshift mining or ore processing apparatus. If a prospect failed, they might take the mechanical parts to use at another mine. Thus, at quite a few Depression-era mine sites, you see car bodies with battered wheels, windows, seat springs and maybe some tattered upholstery, but no mechanical parts.

Aguereberry POINT is high-clearance, and the road can have snow on it in winter. It is about 6 miles beyond Aguereberry Camp, and it gets rougher and steeper as you go higher. I drove there once in winter in a front-wheel drive car, but I wouldn’t suggest it. It is a vista point higher in elevation than Dante’s View, looking down from the west rather than east side. It is beautiful, and far less visited than Dante’s, but I would recommend going to Dante’s instead.

The Beatty restaurants will have choices suitable for vegetarians. You can find salads, soups, fruit, eggs or omelets if you aren’t vegan. Beatty also has a couple of small stores (no supermarket) if you just want groceries. And don’t forget the DV Nut & Candy Co. for the real essentials. The restaurants at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells (and Panamint Springs if you get that far west) have some good choices, and SPW and FCR have nice soup and salad bars.

Destination Expert
for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
posts: 13,647
reviews: 8
23. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

The candy place Frisco mentioned is great. Hard to get out of there without dropping a least a few dollars!

Pay close attention to your speed in Beatty. They love writing tickets.

Los Angeles...
posts: 1
24. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

None of the places you mentioned (including Zabriskie Point - no 'n' in Zabriskie) - require 4wd or high clearance. However, you will need all of your one day with the jeep to visit the Racetrack Playa. Please check with rangers on road conditions - don't go alone - take plenty of water and make sure you know how to access the spare on the jeep. Otherwise - have a great time - all of the places you mentioned are easily accessible. For some Death Valley history check out goldcreekfilms dot com.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Dusseldorf
posts: 2,853
reviews: 366
25. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

I was just on the road to Aguereberry Point and it was easy although I did have a SUV, I did not need 4 WD. Of course, Frissy is right regarding snow. Snow can ,make everything a bit more interesting.


Camp Sherman, Oregon
posts: 637
26. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Hi Zabriskie,

I didn't know you are there or just there! Will be interesting to see how you did on some back country roads if that's what you are doing, like Greenwater Valley areas.

What's your itinerary? You had mentioned that possibly people could drive Big Pine Road even though it is closed east of Eureka Valley to Ubehebe Crater road.

Fantastic you are there! Just over three months until we get there again.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Dusseldorf
posts: 2,853
reviews: 366
27. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

Hi Jes,

Itinerary this time includes trying to get to Willow Springs via the Goldwater Road. Have never made it Willow Canyon from Badwater Road. Maybe Sheep Canyon. Exploring to the south of Greenwater Canyon on the old wagon road. Climbing over the dry falls in Fall Canyon. More hikers than off the road drivers but have to do the driving to get to the hiking...not enough time, not enough daylight....oh my. No plans this time for the Big Pine Road...but have driven it several times...not this time.


Dublin, California
posts: 2
28. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

"The dull glow to the SE is not from tiny Shoshone, but from millions of lightbulbs powered by millions of kilowatts of electricity generated by millions of gallons of Colorado River water behind Hoover Dam."

A little off-topic Frisco but most of the power generated by Hoover Dam actually goes to Southern California utilities. 25% goes to Nevada (the state) but since Vegas uses a different utility that gets it's power elsewhere the amount is negligible.


Nice post though, I like your suggestions.

29. Re: High Clearance vehicles vs 4WD SUVs

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