Travel Guide: Saline Valley Road in Mojave
Saline Valley Road is a very scenic drive in the Mojave Desert, in the US state of California. It’s one of the challenging Backcountry roads in the Death Valley National Park.
Where is Saline Valley Road?
The track is located in one of the most remote locations in the US state of California, running north-south through the length of Saline Valley, a large, deep, and arid valley in the northern Mojave Desert, within the Inyo Mountains Wilderness Area. No services available.
How long is Saline Valley Road in Mojave?
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). It was built in the early 1900s to transport borax and salt.
Is Saline Valley Road paved?
The road is mostly unpaved, with some washboard sections, often heavily corrugated, sandy in places and sporadically maintained. 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. 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.
Is Saline Valley Road open?
The road is open year round but subject to winter closures due to snow, ice, or washouts, and it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. 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. The road is often signed as “CLOSED” by Inyo County Road Department after floods or winter snows. Visitors going past closed signs “do so at their own risk”. 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.
Is Saline Valley Road worth it?
The drive takes you through some of Death Valley's most fascinating terrain. It offers sweeping views of salt marsh, sand dunes, warm springs, and the stunning Inyo Mountains.
Pic&Video: John Tarvin