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Old 01-07-2017, 12:27 PM   #1
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Death Valley and 2WD

I have the opportunity to visit Death Valley the end of March with some friends and am trying to decide which vehicle to take on the trip. The choice is a mostly stock 2004 Toyota 4Runner or our 2WD E350EB with a locker in the rear and no low range.

The goal is to visit these places; Darwin, Panamint Springs, Saline Dunes, Eureka Dunes, Crankshaft Junction, Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle Junction, The Racetrack, Skidoo,, Tucki Mine, Stovepipe Wells, Chloride Cliffs, Beatty, Titus Canyon, Furnace Creek, Bad Water, Artists Palette, Warm Springs Canyon, Stripped Butte Goler Wash and Ballarate.

Do you think the van can make it to all theses locations? Which locations should we stay away from in the van?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-07-2017, 01:05 PM   #2
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You ain't gonna do all that in the van. But you could do most of it and be more comfortable camping!
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:35 PM   #3
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Long answer, here's my suggestions. You could get more places in the van if you're a risk taker!

Yes for van:
Ballarat (graded road)
Panamint Springs (paved)
Ubehebe Crater (graded road)
Beatty (paved)
Titus Canyon (assuming good weather)
Badwater (paved)
Artists Palette (paved)
Furnace Creek (paved)
Darwin (paved)
Eureka Dunes (easier from Big Pine, harder from DV side)
Crankshaft Junction (rough washboard but doable)
Teakettle Junction (rough washboard but doable)
The Racetrack (rough washboard but doable)
Stovepipe Wells (paved)

No for van:
Goler Wash (couple rough rocky sections, definitely no)
Stripped Butte
Warm Springs Canyon (you could get up the road a bit off of West Side, but probably not to the end of the road)
Skidoo
Tucki Mine
Chloride Cliffs
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:37 PM   #4
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I agree, most of what is listed you can do provided the weather doesn't make things bad. The correct tires might be required as well as being able to air down if you get in to sand. Warm Springs Canyon, Stripped Butte Goler Wash and Ballarat? Ballarat can be reached from the Trona Rd and from Ballarat you can reach the start of Golar wash. You would be stopped at the dry falls but probably make the Barker Ranch. You'd have to drive around to get to the other side of the hill (Mengel Pass is 4x4 only), Warm Springs trail can get sandy in spots all the way to Mengel Pass.
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:39 PM   #5
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Striped Butte/Goler Wash-- not in the 2wd van

Saline sand dunes--maybe, both north and south pass have had a lot of washouts and i'd be hesitant to take a 2wd in there.

Eureka Sand Dunes--Don't venture too far around the east side of dunes in the van. It gets very sand and powdery over there.

Everywhere else would probably be a go in the van. The road to Racetrack can be rough but mostly just bad washboard. Well, really all the roads are washboard.

After the stuff in Death Valley proper the best 4wd route and best bang for your buck would be the following or variation of the sort.

DV to Crankshaft Jct then over to Eureka Dunes. From Eureka head over Steel Pass and down to the hot springs in Saline Valley and on out to the dunes. Head south from there to Lipincott road to Racetrack. After racetrack head to Teakettle Jct and onward to Ubaheebe.
Take extra fuel!!!! 2 spare tires wouldn't hurt either.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:19 PM   #6
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I think rallypanams list is pretty spot on.

FWIW, I have driven to many of the other spots in 2wd with my 4x4 van. mostly DV is about clearance, since traction is pretty easy to come by in the desert.
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:48 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone. Very helpful information.

Rallypanam, am definitely a risk taker. How else can one know what our vans can really do. To that end can you tell me why you think Stripped Butte, Skidoo, Tucki Mine and Chloride Cliffs should not be done in a locked 2WD van?
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larrie View Post
To that end can you tell me why you think Stripped Butte, Skidoo, Tucki Mine and Chloride Cliffs should not be done in a locked 2WD van?
Ground clearance. You'll be dragging a lot. On rocks.

Of course, as with most stuff in the desert, depends on conditions, what storms have been through, what rocks are exposed.
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:09 PM   #9
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Got it. Was more concerned about sand and narrow passageway.
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by larrie View Post
Got it. Was more concerned about sand and narrow passageway.
But what the hell, give it a shot. Worst case you have to back down a small two track a few miles until you can turn around!
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