Titus Canyon Road
We planned a short trip to Death Valley National Park and since Titus Canyon Road has been on my list of Jeep roads for some time, I arranged our days within the park so we could take this route on the day we visited the north end of it. It worked out really well. We drove down to Tonopah, NV on Thursday and got up early on Friday and headed to Beatty, NV for breakfast. From Beatty, we made a quick stop at some rather unusual artwork near Rhyolite, NV, which put us only a very short distance from the start of Titus Canyon Road on Friday morning. I say "start" because the road is one way for a majority of it, and to enjoy the drive you have to start on the east end...which is 34 miles on pavement from the west end. The road isn't an overly challenging Jeep road, and in fact you could make it almost any vehicle, but the chance of tire damage is real, and being stuck out on Titus Canyon road without cell phone service, especially on a hot day, could be dangerous. Ground clearance and axle articulation isn't really a concern on this road, but a sturdy all terrain tire, or at least a highway terrain tire, is needed. Any tire used should be aired down. There is plenty of washboard on the east end of the route.
What did I learn?
Getting an early start on a vacation day might not be as relaxing as sleeping in, but it sure was nice to be one of the first vehicles of the day down the road. We did see a couple people, but it was easy to get photos without other people or vehicles, and we never felt like we were holding up other visitors.
It didn't take more than a couple miles to convince ourselves that we'd be better off airing down the tires. We aired down to about 20PSI, and stayed there for almost 100 miles between Titus Canyon Road and our excursion to Teakettle Junction and The Racetrack.
The road got more interesting as we made our way into the mountains. The views are wonderful, you could stop every 1/4 mile and take in the view if you had all day.
We stopped briefly on the ridge above Leadfield, a ghost town that some fellow Titus Canyon Road travelers stopped at on their way through. Living in Nevada now, we've seen our share of ghost towns, including the granddaddy of all ghost towns, Bodie, CA (link to Bri's blog). So...we kept moving to get to the main attraction, the towering walls of Titus Canyon.
The thing about canyons, especially in the morning, is shadows...shadows everywhere!
The official entrance. We definitely kept an eye out for rattlesnakes when taking this picture.
Bri enjoyed taking video as we wound our way through the canyon. She'll have that on her blog soon, and I'll update this post with a link then. There was always plenty of room for the Jeep in the canyon, but the road is mostly one way which made travelling around the blind corners a little less stressful.
Some perspective. The canyon was amazing. As we drove through it I couldn't help but wonder about the gravel we were driving on. After doing some hiking in other canyons in Death Valley, I am convinced we were driving on native material that may have been graded occasionally. It certainly wasn't hauled in, at least not in the canyon portion of the road.
We eventually exited the canyon and made our way north to Teakettle Junction and The Racetrack. Bri will cover that part of our Death Valley trip in an upcoming blog. I'll add a link when it's available.