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Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

Chicago suburb...
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Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

I will be in Bishop mid-March and wondering whether I may drive from Big Pine into the Death Valley. Do I need an SUV? Will it be snow covered?

Topanga, California
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1. Re: Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

The likelihood of hitting snow on the road on that route is small. That chance of it being significant is smaller still.

I see no reason for an SUV on that route. However, you might want one in Death Valley NP to explore some of the dirt roads.

Chicago suburb...
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2. Re: Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

Thanks for the advise. Few years ago, I visited the south and east of Death Valley. An SUV did make me feel more at ease on unpaved road. This year I plan to visit the north and west of the park.

Eugene, Oregon
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3. Re: Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

The road from Big Pine down to Scotty's Castle is beautiful. I would certainly rent an SUV, not due to snow, but because most of the north part of the park is on dirt roads and having an SUV will open up more areas to visit than a normal sedan. Our family did the Death Valley Rd last year at the end of March. The road is paved for about half the distance, the rest is dirt. On our trip we hit horrific wash-boards from the Sulpher mine all through Crankshaft junction and down the valley until we hit pavement again near the crater. Our top speed was 15 mph in a 4wd truck. The road out the the racetrack was a little better, but still bumpy enough to jiggle the positive terminal loose on our battery. We then took the Lippincott Rd down into Salinas valley. This road is definately 4wd only, but the scenery is fabulous, even though you pray the whole time that nobody is coming up the hill. The salinas valley road was perfect and smooth back down to 190. Even though our trip took longer than we expected it was definately worth every jarring bounce. Maybe they have graded the north valley roads since last spring. Hope you have a good trip.

Chicago suburb...
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4. Re: Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

Thanks for the advice. We did rent a 4x4 SUV. It might not have been necessary but certainly made the trip feel a lot more assuring.

The Death Valley Road from Big Pine to the boundary of the Park was well paved and maintained. Once entering the park, the pavement ended until we hit the road between Scotty’s castle and the crater. The road inside the park must have been graded recently. We had no problem going 20 to 30 in between the heavy washboarding segments. The sceneries on the road were gorgeous and changing and well worth the jolts of the road. With frequent stopping to enjoy the sights, it took us a little more than three hours.

The road to the racetrack was another story. I could not go above 10 in the first mile. I had no idea for the rest of the road but estimated that at 10 mile per hour, it would take us five hours to make the 54 mile round trip to the racetrack from the crater. So I took the advise of the ranger and turned around.

5. Re: Big Pine road to Death Valley in March?

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