Saline Valley Road is a 95 miles (153 km) dirt track, located in Saline Valley, a large, deep, and arid valley in the northern Mojave Desert of California, USA. The road is a sporadically maintained dirt road running north-south through the length of the valley, and is the most commonly used access route. It’s one of the challenging Backcountry roads in the Death Valley National Park.
The road runs from SR 168 in the north to SR 190 in the south. It is 95 miles (153 km) long and ranges in elevation from 1,094 to 7,593ft (333 to 2.314m), and still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. The track is located in one of the most remote locations in California. This desert basin is surrounded by rugged mountains on all sides. Finest Joshua tree forest in the park located 8 miles in at Lee Flat. Also salt marsh, sand dunes, warm springs, and stunning views of Inyo Mountains. The drive takes you through some of Death Valley's most fascinating terrain. The further up you go it gets curvy with drop offs. It’s quite bumpy and rough with curves and drop offs and deep loose sand in places. Required high ground clearance (but may require 4x4 in winter), off-road tires, and mounted full-size spare tires are strongly recommended. Come prepared and take breaks, your back will thank you.
The road is subject to winter closures due to snow, ice, or washouts, but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. Officially, the entire length of the road is passable by non-4WD vehicles, but long stretches of road are extremely rough and surfaced by sharp-edged primitive rock gravel. The road is open year round. Best Oct.-May although higher elevations may be closed due to snow. It’s especially comfortable during spring and fall, with temperatures ranging from 50-85 degrees. High ground clearance and mounted full-size spare tires are strongly recommended. The "Road Closed" signs are often left in place year-round in an attempt to deter motorists who may not realize how treacherous the road is, and to limit Inyo County liability. It goes through two mountain passes: the Inyo Mountains in the north, and the Nelson Range in the south. The northern pass is higher, but is better maintained and is about 20 miles (30 km) closer to the hot springs. It is not a Park Service Road, and Inyo County is responsible for its maintenance.
Pic&Video: John Tarvin