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Author Topic: Towne Pass, Death Valley  (Read 4422 times)

chas.watson

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Towne Pass, Death Valley
« on: March 24, 2007, 11:25:05 PM »
I'm planning a mid-April trip to Death Valley.  My rig is a Toyota Tundra V-8 towing a 24' 5th wheel trailer.  AAA's  Death Valley Nat'l Park Guide recommends against towing trailers via SR 178 or SR 190 (Towne Pass).  However, the Mountain Directory West indicates nothing alarming about either one (winding road with 30 mph curves and 9% grades for Towne Pass  being the more challenging)
Last year I took the same rig over Ebbetts Pass with 10 mph hairpin curves and 12% grades (something I'm not eager to repeat).  By comparison, Towne Pass seems relatively tame.

Any comments or advice?

Jim Dick

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2007, 07:35:41 AM »
Two years ago we drove SR190 into Death Valley with the toad. As I remember the road itself was not bad but the grades were significant in places. I guess if your rig is capable of such climbs and descents it won't be an unusually scary trip. :) Be sure the brakes on both are working properly!!!
Jim

Titusville, Florida
U.S. Navy Veteran
2000 American Dream 40' DP
2012 GMC Terrain
2006 Suzuki Boulevard C50T Motorcycle
http://photo.net/photos/jimdick

Wendy

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2007, 10:18:17 AM »
We drove over Towne Pass pretty much monthly when we lived in Death Valley but usually in a VW or Toyota PU. However, once we towed our 35-foot fifth wheel over Towne pass, traveling east to west. It is a very long, steep climb up out of DV but it is certainly doable. The west side of the pass is winding with very steep sections. Again, doable but be sure your brakes are in good shape. We've done the pass west to east in our 28-foot Class A and again, it was a long steep climb up and a long steep descent on the other side.

Use low gear and make sure your brakes are in very good shape. Shut off the A/C on the climb up and be aware that it will be approaching HOT in Death Valley in April, with high temps typically in the 90s.

And be sure to visit Scottys Castle at the north end of the park if you get a chance. Also Rhyolite, outside the park on the east side near Beatty Nevada, is worth a visit. The evening ranger programs at Furnace Creek are a nice way to spend an evening.

Death Valley is one of my favorite places. Enjoy.
Wendy and Mike
Former Death Valley NPS Ranger
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

Lowell

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2007, 10:21:12 AM »
I drove through Death Valley last week from Pahrump to Lone Pine.  I didn't take 178 into Death Valley but used 190.  We did drive down 178 about 15 miles  to get to Badwater which is the lowest point on earth at 282 feet below sea level and to take the Artist Loop drive.  All the highways that we traveled were in good condition, but I can't speak to the lower portion of 178 that we didn't travel.  At the visitor center, I mentioned to a ranger that I had probably made a mistake by not driving up 178.  Her reply was: "No you didn't, it's very twisty." Leaving Death Valley on 190 going west, you will have a very long climb.  I don't recall it being so steep but it sure is a long climb. I'm guessing about 15-20 miles.  We were just passing through this time, not towing, so I didn't pay a lot of attention to the climb, but I think I would feel comfortable towing our TT there.  Just take it easy and don't make you vehicle work too hard.  Good Luck
Lowell

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4
KF7YET

Tempe, Arizona

chas.watson

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2007, 01:52:26 PM »
Thanks for your thoughtful replies.  I look forward to visiting spots you mentioned.  Our last visit to Death Valley was 35 years ago.  I think we entered the park via Hidden Valley in our truck mounted camper with our two kids, and our first stop was Ubehebe Crater. I don't suppose much has changed, other than my faded memory.

ArdraF

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2007, 02:02:14 PM »
If you go over Towne Pass west to east it is basically 17 miles down without any "up" sections.  As Wendy said, make sure your brakes are in good working order and plan to use your gears to keep your speed down.  Personally, I prefer the east to west with its 17 miles of up.  ;D ;D

Death Valley has a lot to see and do.  Mid-April should still be relatively decent temperature-wise so you can take some neat hikes (Marble Canyon is one) if you're so inclined.  Just be sure to carry water when you're wandering.  Even if it's not too hot the extremely low humidity can dehydrate you in a hurry.  I also carry some high-energy snacks "just in case."

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Wendy

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2007, 02:08:40 PM »
Thanks for your thoughtful replies.  I look forward to visiting spots you mentioned.  Our last visit to Death Valley was 35 years ago.  I think we entered the park via Hidden Valley in our truck mounted camper with our two kids, and our first stop was Ubehebe Crater. I don't suppose much has changed, other than my faded memory.

Wow, if you came in through Hidden Valley, you're a brave soul....Towne Pass will be a piece of cake.

Not a lot has changed except that it's now a National Park instead of a National Monument and it's a lot bigger than it was. The tours of Scotty's Castle have changed but if you've never been there before, you won't notice. Even if you don't take one of the Castle tours, it's worth a stop just to walk around the grounds and think about the place it's built. And Ubehebe Crater is still awesome.

Enjoy.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

KodiakRV

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2007, 05:55:55 PM »
I drove through Death Valley last week from Pahrump to Lone Pine.  I didn't take 178 into Death Valley but used 190.  We did drive down 178 about 15 miles  to get to Badwater which is the lowest point on earth at 282 feet below sea level ...

Well, not quite --
"The lowest point on Earth is getting even lower. According to an article on Middle East Online, the Dead Sea was 1,293 feet below sea level 40 years ago, but today it's 1,360 feet below sea level. The Friends of the Earth - Middle East environmental organization says the Dead Sea's water level is dropping by about three feet (one meter) every year."

Frank
Florida

Lowell

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2007, 07:53:33 PM »
I stand corrected.  It is only the lowest point in the western hemisphere.   :-\
Lowell

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4
KF7YET

Tempe, Arizona

Wendy

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Re: Towne Pass, Death Valley
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2007, 07:57:04 PM »
Whatever, it's really cool to stand in the Badwater parking lot and look UP to the sign that says "Sea Level." And even more cool than that was two years ago when we stood there looking out at "Lake Manley" with a real actual LAKE out on the Badwater flats where other years there would be salt flats.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug