Our favorite maps for exploring Death Valley:
Maps are invaluable for trip planning and always knowing where you are in the backcountry. You cannot rely on cell reception for Google Maps or online help.
These are our “go-to” maps for 4×4 roads. Both maps are printed on waterproof and tear-resistant plastic. These maps will take a beating while being folded over and over.
Tom Harrison maps have color-coded symbols and trails, mileages between trail junctions, latitude/longitude, UTM grids, contour lines, vegetation, and elevations at trail junctions. Tom Harrison Maps is famous for the beauty and accuracy of its maps.
National Geographic has a list of back-country roads and trails complete with descriptions, lengths, and starting points to help you choose your route. The map base includes contour lines and elevations for summits. A full UTM grid is printed on the map to aid with GPS navigation.
Guide books for trips and detailed info as you drive the back roads of Death Valley:
These books are like having your own tour guide to find places of interest off the beaten path. Old mine sites, cabins, and geology are fun to find and explore using these detailed guides by seasoned experts for this region.
The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park is authored by T. Scott Bryan and Betty Tucker-Bryan. The book includes updated point-to-point logs for every road within and around the park, as well as more accurate maps than those in any other publication. With extensive input from National Park Service resource management, law enforcement, and interpretive personnel, as well as a thorough bibliography for suggested reading, The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park, Third Edition is the most up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive guide available for this national treasure.
Death Valley SUV Trails is written by Roger Mitchell. We use this guide extensively when driving in 4WD in Death Valley. The “Mitchell Scale” is invaluable for assessing the difficulty of dirt roads. Given the remoteness, ruggedness and enormous size, four-wheel driving in this area can be very dangerous. The guide includes 46 excursions that are well described and always interesting to drive and find camping.
You are welcome to use my sample itinerary and menu to customize for your next trip.
Check out our handy tips of what “to know before you go” camping in the desert wilderness of Death Valley.
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