Death Valley – Titus Canyon Drive


What? : this is by no drought one of the most beautiful offroad drive that you can find in the Death valley. The east to west one way drive rising gently to 5,250-foot Red Pass and from there descend into the deep narrow and winding gorge of Titus Canyon. The drive ends at the opening of the narrow canyon into the death valley.


Where? : The one-way, 26 mile 4x4 road route at Nevada on highway 374, 6.2 miles west of the town Beatty; 20.5 miles east of highway 190 in the Death Valley.

The one-way drive road start at Nevada, get into the Death Valley National Park and cross the California border. The dirt road drive ends at Titus Canyon, end of Red Pass parking.

Google Map Link


When? : The recommended time to visit here is late fall, winter and early spring, summer is just too hot.


Due note 1: Always have enough water with you !


Due note 2: This is an off-road drive, although usually well-maintain I do not recommend this to AWD cars. This is not only about the difficulties of the ride but also about type of tires that can get flat and the need in few places for high clearance.


Due note 3: As in any other off-road driving, always bring enough water with you and make sure you are coming with enough fuel (the nearest gas station is at Beatty NV).


Due note 4: This drive does not introduce any navigation challenges; it is one way drive, and the road is clear.


Due note 5: This drive is very popular, probably the most popular off-road drive in the park. You probably won’t be the only one driving here. Be patient, in many sections the road is narrow and winding, and you can’t pass the car in front of you. When you see others that are driving behind you let them pass when it is safe to move aside.


Due note 6: Periodic floods can cause brief closures, for most of the year all is completely dry. Check at the park website. Never drive when it looks like rain; the canyon is narrow in parts and prone to flash floods.


Due note 7: There is very little shade anywhere in Death Valley so use Sunscreen even in winter months.


Due note 8: I saw few people that came to the end of this drive, park their car at the canyon parking lot and hike into the canyon. Although the lower canyon is indeed nice, I’m not sure I will recommend this as a hike, cars always drive here. the road section to the west outside the canyon that connect to the paved road in the valley is 2-way drive, but you can’t progress into the canyon.


Due note 9: I recommend combining this drive with a short visit at Rhyolite ghost town before starting the one-way drive


Due note 10: when visiting or hiking at the Death Valley use several layers as clothing. You can start your day with cold temperatures during early morning sunrise to a very hot midday (even at fall, winter, and spring). At the afternoon it can warm but at sunset temperature plumage and it can be near freezing.


My thoughts: I have a lot of off-road experience, and I must admit this drive was fun!

A good, maintained road with not so much driving challenges, nice desert mountain range, few steep uphill and downhill passes and amazing narrow canyon drive.

Highly recommended drive.


The visit:

Titus Canyon is a deep, narrow gorge cut into the steep face of the Grapevine Mountains within Death Valley National Park.

This is one-way drive that start in Nevada and end in California. The canyon features limestone and dolomite rock formations, old, deserted gold mines settlements petroglyphs, and native plants and wildlife.


How long is the drive: Drive safe and slow and stop often at viewing points. Plan for at list 2-3 hours to make it through the road, but it will probably take you a half day if you stop at the mines, eat lunch, and stop for photo opportunities.


The drive:

Titus canyon road winds 24 gorgeous miles through the Death Valley backcountry.

You start the drive near the road at elevation of 3,300 foot and gradually the road climbs the mountains on your west.

After 9.8 miles from highway 374 road, you will reach the first pass. From here the road decent to the valley below you and you will see on the other side of the valley the road that is climbing up the next mountain.

From this high point you will drive into the valley below and after short 1 mile you will start your 1 mile twisted narrow road up the mountain to Red Pass, named for the red rock in this area. Once reaching Red Pass you will see the high section of Titus canyon valley.

There is not a lot of places here to park on the side of the road but try to find such and enjoy the view from this location. From here (Elevation: 5250’), there is view in both directions, to the east, you can see the road you just climb and to the west, you can see the valley below you. Have a short stop and take few pictures.

From the pass the road descends sharply to the valley below with few switchbacks. After 2.5 miles you will reach to Leadfield Ghost Town remaining. There still are few buildings standing here where once was a small mining boom town (1920).

This town was only active for one-year, false publication on finding gold drew few hundred people to this remote environment.  After failing to find anything the town itself lasted for one year and soon got abounded.


Soon after Leadfield Ghost Town the road is entering the top Titus Canyon Narrows, a tight canyon with towering limestone walls.

As you drive down the road in the canyon floor the limestone cliffs towering high above the road. the road in this section is right on the riverbed loose pebbles and usually in good condition.

About 1.5 miles from the “entrance” to Titus Canyon, you will pass Klare Spring and some Native American petroglyphs on your right (there is a clear large board near the rock).


The bottom half of Titus Canyon is where the narrowest sections are.  The canyon is barely wider than the car in some places.  As the road snakes through the canyon floor, the grey in color, cliffs of both sides going up over one thousand feet above the canyon floor.

In this section the road wind with many left and right turns, drive slowly and enjoy the experience.

Titus Canyon drive eventually emerges out into Death Valley National Park. At this spot there is a vault toilet and parking area.

From this parking lot you can hike into, but this is not fun with all cars driving in the narrow canyon, another excellent option is to hike to Fall Canyon Trail just to the north. This can be 6 miles out and back hike (I did not hike it so do not have a lot more information about this hike).


The final 2.6 miles dirt road down to the paved road are open to two-way traffic.


Overall, this is probably the best off-road drives you have in Death Valley. Not too long or difficult to drive but the experience of driving long slot narrow and deep canyon is amazing.






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