Lippincott Mine Road is a 4WD trail located in Death Valley, the hottest area in the world, in Eastern California, USA. The trail is 8,2 miles long, and runs from the Racetrack Valley Road to Saline Valley. The length of the road goes from the East trailhead sign to the junction with Saline Valley Road to the west. It’s a faster route to the park than others, but you might be clenching your jaw the whole way, trying not to fall hundreds of feet to oblivion, and it’s not for the casual driver or the casual car.
Road conditions are always changing. If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. Staying on track here takes oodles of concentration. The trail should be open most of the year with the elevation running from 3,876 down to 2,256. For best views start at the Race track Trail head and run downhill into Saline Valley. The road takes off from the Saline Valley road, which is accessed off of state highway 190 west of Panamint Springs. You'll need a good map, as the routes are not marked and there are no signs. Also be aware that this area is seriously back-country. Be prepared for any kind of emergency, and bring extra water. There are no guardrails, and there is the constant threat of a steep fall if you’re not careful — at times, there’s just a foot or two of gravelly space to navigate. You’ll be driving around or over some large rocks that could break your vehicle, and if that doesn’t do it, the park’s intense heat could if you’re making the climb into Death Valley during the hotter months. There’s no towing service, no water source, no road signs and no cell reception.
This is a not maintained road and where a high clearance 4WD vehicle is able to travel safely at low speeds on long dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. The climb gets very serious; this is slow, low-range work. There are washouts, most of which have been repaired with rocks, and in places you'll only have a foot or so between your outside tire and a disaster. The drop gets hairy, too.-- hundreds of feet, not straight down, but not enough of a slope to matter -- a mistake would be fatal. There's an additional problem: if there's a breeze in the canyon, it will be coming from behind you, which, coupled with the low-range hard climb, can cause overheating. Watch your temperature gauge. It’s one of the challenging Backcountry roads in the Death Valley National Park.
The road tops out at a saddle. This isn't the summit, but it's a good stopping point, and the view is fantastic. There's room to park with your grill in the wind to let things cool. There are some important rules for these kind of roads: big trucks have the right of way, always drive with your headlights on so others can see you, keep your headlights and taillights clean so they are visible, stay on the right side of the road, don't stop on bridges or hills, check your rear-view mirror regularly, especially before stopping, if you spot wildlife, pull over to a safe spot to park and slow down when passing other vehicles (especially bicyclists and motorcyclists) to lessen the chances of hitting them with mud or flying rocks from your tires. Further on, the pucker-factor eases as the cliff dropoffs are not as severe, but the trail remains a challenge with switchbacks and washouts and low-range climbs. The trail ends just beyond the summit at a nice bladed road, with another warning sign like the first for the traffic coming from the other direction.
Due to frequent flooding in the area, road conditions often vary throughout the park. Recommended a rough 4wd vehicle. For the most up-to-date information on road conditions, visit Death Valley’s website at nps.gov/deva. The road is very steep, narrow, and winding with cliff edge washouts. Uphill traffic has right of way. Lower part has very narrow section that is difficult for wide vehicles. Subject to closure after washouts from heavy rains.
Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the world, and climatic conditions in the park can be extreme. The world record highest air temperature of 134°F (57°C) was recorded here. 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. 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. 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.
This is one of the most challenging and exciting 4WD roads in Death Valley. Menacing desert terrain with numerous steep, rocky climbs. Large, sharp rocks require tight maneuvering, increasing the likelihood of tire damage. High clearance, skid plates and differential lockers required. No stock vehicles. A complex network of poorly defined roads makes route-finding very difficult, even following a GPS tracklog. Very hot in summer. Carry plenty of water. Never drive this trail alone. The signs posted at each end of the road say it all by warning: "CAUTION - ROUTE AHEAD NOT MAINTAINED - WASH OUTS AND CUT BANKS AHEAD - ROUTE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR VEHICLE TRAVEL - EXPERIENCED DRIVERS USING 4X4 HIGH CLEARANCE VEHICLES ONLY".