Photo credit Joy Whiting, All Rights Reserved
Photo credit Joy Whiting, All Rights Reserved
Photo credit Joy Whiting, All Rights Rserved
A scenic paved road between the main roads of Death Valley and Beatty, Nevada. The road climbs up from the Scotty’s Castle Road, over Daylight Pass between the Funeral Mountains and the Grapevine Mountains, and then across the plains to US-95.
|Total Distance: 26.0 miles point to point||Elevation Gain: 4,445ft. up, 1,314ft. down (166ft. to 4,215ft.)|
|Road Difficulty: 0.6||Bicycle Difficulty: Easy|
|View Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars||Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: Leashed||Horses: No|
|Best Seasons: October-May||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: Water is available in Beatty; no water is available along this route in Death Valley National Park||Overnight Options: None outside of Beatty|
|Amenities: Occasional primitive toilets at trailheads; water and services in Furnace Creek||Crowd Factor: Crowded|
Mile-by-Mile: Daylight Pass Road (Scotty’s Castle Road to Beatty, NV)
0.0 Scotty’s Castle Road Junction with Daylight Pass Road (166ft.). Turn onto the Daylight Pass Road to travel northeast (a sign will point toward Beatty, NV with no mention of the road’s name). After a little over half a mile, the road enters Mud Canyon (causing some to call this part of the route Mud Canyon Road). The “canyon” is a wash through the low, gravelly hills that allows the road access up toward Daylight Pass. The road exits the upper end of the canyon about mile 3.0. Continue upward with the Death Valley Buttes directly to the west. (36.646364°, -117.041404°)
6.7 Hell’s Gate/Beatty Cutoff Road Junction (2,274ft.). The Beatty Cutoff Road is to the right (south/east). On the west side of the road at the junction is an information kiosk with a primitive restroom and a picnic table. Continue straight (north) on the Daylight Pass Road, passing a service road on the right (east) about mile 7.2. At this point, you’re climbing up to Daylight Pass with the Funeral Mountains on your right (east) and the Grapevine Mountains on your left (west) as the road ascends through Boundary Canyon. (36.723856°, -116.977926°)
10.0 Chloride City Road on right (east) (3,412ft.). The rough dirt road leads to one of the oldest mining districts in Death Valley. Continue straight on the paved road. (36.750608°, -116.936689°)
12.9 Daylight Pass (4,315ft.). Near here, the famous “Old Dinah” steam engine burst her boiler. She was later transported down to the Furnace Creek Ranch. It’s (mostly) all downhill from here! (36.788750°, -116.931669°)
13.2 California/Nevada State Line (4,208ft.). Continue east on the Daylight Pass Road. The road may be called Death Valley Road or NV-374 after this. The road exits the mountains about mile 16.4 to travel across a broad plain. (36.792559°, -116.928201°)
17.2 Death Valley National Park Border (3,549ft.). The sign announcing the park and a pulloff are nearby. Continue on the Daylight Pass Road. (36.832354°, -116.880246°)
19.9 Titus Canyon Road on left (west) (3,416ft.). The Titus Canyon Road is a favorite for jeepers and motorcyclists, although it’s rated for high clearance 2WD vehicles in dry conditions. Traffic is one-way driving from north (here) to south (Scotty’s Castle Road) passing through the Grapevine Mountains, past an old mining camp, and through the narrows of a canyon. Continue on Daylight Pass Road. (36.859137°, -116.845884°)
22.0 Rhyolite Road on left (west) (3,365ft.). Continue straight toward Beatty on the Daylight Pass Road. As you come into Beatty, you will cross several sidestreets. (36.880863°, -116.818013°)
26.0 US-95 on right and straight (3,302ft.). US-95 takes a hard turn here – so the junction looks like a four-way intersection. Right (southeast) is US-95; straight (northeast) is US-95; and left (northwest) is North Second Street. (36.908421°, -116.759326°)
History & More
Beatty, Nevada, is popular from the standpoint that it’s the closest semblance of civilization to the main part of Death Valley National Park. Most people drive out here to get gas and other supplies, combining it with a trip to Rhyolite and/or the Titus Canyon Road.
In 1910, J.R. Lane purchased an ancient traction engine from the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad and converted it to road use with the intent of carrying supplies across the desert. Early tests of “Old Dinah” were promising, pulling twenty tons of supplies in her four trailers, plus a tanker wagon of water. However, prior to J.R. Lane’s ventures, Old Dinah had broken down on her very first trip, and was towed back to town by mules. Still, Mr. Lane convinced the Porter Brothers in Rheyolite, Nevada, that his tractor was more efficient than the brothers’ mules and horses for carrying supplies to the Keane Wonder Mine. The traction engine made several trips to and from the Keane Wonder Mine, carrying supplies for the workers.
Still, Old Dinah wasn’t exactly a silver bullet. She required four men to keep her running – a fireman, an engineer, a brakeman, and a mechanic. The last man’s job was to work all night long, every single night, fixing and maintaining the engine, so that she’d run the next day.
Only a few weeks after beginning operations, Old Dinah’s boiler burst en route over Daylight Pass. J.R. Lane furiously blamed over-used machinery and poor-quality water. Old Dinah was left right where she sat, waiting for J.R. Lane to bring a gasoline-powered engine to replace the boiler, while the mules took over transporting goods once again. In 1932, two employees of the Pacific Coast Borax Company brought Old Dinah down to the Furnace Creek Ranch, where she still sits today.
Download Road Map
Northern Terminus: Beatty, Nevada along US-95.
From Furnace Creek, take CA-190 North toward Stovepipe Wells. After 17.1 miles, turn right onto Scotty’s Castle Road, following the signs for Scotty’s Castle. (This junction is 7.2 miles south (really east) of Stovepipe Wells on CA-190.) After 0.6 miles, you’ll come to the Daylight Pass Road, on the right, signed for Beatty, Nevada.
From Las Vegas, take US-95 north for 116 miles to the town of Beatty. At the stop sign, turn left following the sign for Rhyolite, Death Valley, and NV-374.
Leave No Trace Principles are enforced
Drones and model aircrafts are prohibited
Camping is permitted only in designated sites or in areas open to dispersed backcountry camping
Click here for all park rules and regulations
12 Month Pass: $55/Death Valley Annual Pass (valid at Death Valley National Park). $80/America the Beautiful Annual Pass (valid at all national park and federal fee areas). $20/Annual Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/4th Grade Pass (Valid Sept. 1-August 31 of the child’s 4th Grade school year). Free/Military Pass (valid for all active military personel and their dependents with a CAC Card or DD Form 1173).
Lifetime Pass: $80/Lifetime Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/Access Pass (available to all US citizens with perminent disabilities). Free/Access for Veterans and Gold Star Families Pass (valid for all military and veterans with a CAC card, Veteran HJealth Identification Card, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on state-issued drivers license or identification card.)
Daylight Pass Road
The Daylight Pass Road is a beautiful way to exit (or enter) Death Valley National Park. It’s one of the higher roads in the area, so it’s also slightly cooler (at least in some places) than down in the valley.
From Scotty’s Castle Road 0.6 mile north of CA-190 east of Stovepipe Wells, turn east onto the Daylight Pass Road following the sign for Beatty, NV. A sign shortly after the junction will tell you that Beatty, NV is in 26 and Titus Canyon is in 20 (miles, that is). The road travels across a gravelly plain for about half a mile until it enters Mud Canyon.
The “canyon” isn’t all that impressive, but there are hills around the road, which exits the upper end of the canyon about mile 3.0. The views after this are quite good of the Grapevine Mountains. Pass by the Death Valley Buttes on the left.
About mile 6.7, a road enters from the right (south). This is the Beatty Cutoff Road that travels south to CA-190, passing by the Keane Wonder Mine on the way. The junction where the two roads meet is commonly known as Hell’s Gate. On the left (west) side of the road, a small parking area offers a primitive restroom, picnic table, and information kiosk. I’ve eaten quite a few meals at that picnic table!
Continue east on the Daylight Pass Road; you’ll be driving deeper into Boundary Canyon between the Funeral Mountains (right/south) and the Grapevine Mountains (left/north). Pass a service road on the right (south) about mile 7.2.
The Chloride City Road strikes off on the right (south) about mile 10. The road is rough and narrow, though 2WD vehicles with high clearance can usually make it for the first 2.2 miles. Beyond, it’s a favorite with jeepers who enjoy driving the old mining road up to the site of Chloride City atop the Chloride Cliffs. But returning to the present on the Daylight Pass Road, the grade continues to be steep up Boundary Canyon.
Daylight Pass is almost 3 miles beyond the Chloride City Road. A dirt pulloff here allows you to stretch your legs or enjoy the limited views of the mountains nearby. Cross the state border into Nevada 0.3 miles below the pass. After this, the road may switch names to Death Valley Road or NV-374. But since it’s rather hard to get lost when there’s only one road in sight, don’t worry about the name change.
About mile 17.2, the road exits Death Valley National Park (the back of the sign and pulloff on the other side of the road should indicate when you’re about to leave the park). The Titus Canyon Road strikes off to the left 2.7 miles later. The Titus Canyon Road is dirt but 2WD friendly as long as you have high clearance. It’s also one way, so if you drive it, you’re committed to take the entire 26.6 mile road through the Grapevine Mountains, past a ghost town, through the narrows of Titus Canyon, and finally out onto Scotty’s Castle Road.
But back on the Daylight Pass Road, the next junction of any real interest is the Rhyolite Road on the left about mile 22. It’s paved and would take you to the buildings of a popular ghost town (don’t miss the bank, the Porter Bros. store, and the bottle house!) Shortly after the turn, you should be able to see the town (it’s a real town!) of Beatty. Keep driving straight through the town until you come to the main intersection that is US-95. Going straight would take you north on US-95, and turning right will take you south on US-95 toward Death Valley Junction.