Hunter Mountain is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.185m (7,168ft) above the sea level located in Inyo County, in the eastern central part of California, between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the state of Nevada.
Located in the desolate northern section of Death Valley National Park, the road to the summit is unpaved. It’s called Hunter Mountain Road. It’s 17.21km (10.7 miles) long. 4x4 vehicle required. You will encounter loose rock, washes and quite a bit of washboard. Nevertheless the drive is fun and the terrain is very different once you leave the valley below. Do not enter mine tunnels or shafts. Mines may be unstable, have hidden shafts, pockets of bad air and poisonous gas. Hikers, backpackers and four-wheelers need to be self reliant and well prepared. Always plan ahead, carry detailed maps and let someone know your plans. Backpackers should obtain a free backcountry permit from any visitor center. Dial 911 from any telephone or cell phone. Cell phones may not work in many parts of the park. Do not depend on them.
The drive will take you to some of the most remote and extraordinary parts of northwestern Death Valley. At times the route can be impassable in the winter months. Plan your visit in the park. Drink plenty of water. Avoid hiking in the heat. Travel prepared to survive: Stay on paved roads in summer. If your car breaks down, stay with it until help comes. Carry extra drinking water in your car in case of emergency. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink water or sports drinks. More people die in single-car accidents than by any other means. The route is unmaintained and extremely bumpy at times. Due to frequent flooding in the area, road conditions often vary throughout the park. There are absolutely no services along this route so make sure you have fuel and supplies! The road is dirt all the way with many of the "standard" off-road challenges. There are narrow spots, steep inclines/declines, sharp drop-offs in some portions, possible soft sand and large boulders in the wash areas and, depending on weather conditions, you may also encounter mud and/or snow. To avoid an accident, follow the speed limits, shift to a lower gear on steep downhill grades, and wear your seatbelt. Never place your hands or feet where you cannot see first. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, or black widow spiders may be sheltered there. Avoid canyons during rain storms and be prepared to move to higher ground. While driving, be alert for water running in washes and across road dips. Snow and icy conditions may make this section impassable in winter. For the most up-to-date information on road conditions, visit Death Valley’s website at nps.gov/deva. It’s one of the challenging Backcountry roads in the Death Valley National Park.
Pic: Yaodong Jia