Several years ago during a visit to Death Valley in February the friends that we were camping with suggested we drive through Titus Canyon. Since we had never heard of it, we jumped at the opportunity. What an adventure it was. To be fully experienced you have to drive the whole way and not just do the last three miles on the west end.
The Titus Canyon Road is 27 miles long and one way from East to West except for the last 3 miles at the west end. It is a rough gravel road that is often steep and narrow. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is certainly recommended. We did it in our all wheel drive 2002 Honda CRV without difficulty, but make sure to check with the local rangers to be sure of the road conditions. It is sometimes closed due to snow or washed out sections. It is subject to flash flooding so do not enter if rain is predicted. Be sure to travel with another car or notify someone that you are going on this road because it is not patrolled very often. During the summer it is extremely hot and is not a good time to visit.
If you are fortunate you can see wildlife along the road like this coyote who did a good job of begging for food. Please do not feed any of the wildlife though. Doing so allows them to become used to human interaction. It can lead to aggressive behavior and spread disease. Human food is not beneficial to the animals and can cause nutritional deficiencies and finally feeding may lead the to decreased natural feeding behavior.
We did as many people do and visited the ghost town of Rhyolite before starting the Titus Canyon drive. Below is a picture of the desert along the road between Rhyolite and the beginning of the Titus Canyon Road.
There are so many spectacular views along the road. I know I have too many pictures, so beware.
Red Pass at 5250′ elevation is the highest point on the Titus Canyon road. The views in both directions are spectacular.
About 10 miles into the drive you come to the ghost town of Leadville. According to the sign posted here the town was founded in 1926 on wild and distorted advertising. It “boomed” for less than a year in because the lead deposits bottomed out quickly. What is left today are a few shacks and some open mines. these open mines are dangerous and should not be entered. Loose rocks, rotten timbers, unexpected vertical shafts, and animals seeking shelter are hazards you might encounter.
As you enter Titus Canyon limestone cliffs rise high above the road. Great mountain building forces over the centuries have caused folded layers. You may encounter mountain sheep in these canyons if you are lucky. We did not see any, but were traveling in the middle of the day when they are not as active.
The last 1.5 miles of Titus Canyon is the most narrow. The walls squeeze down to less than 20 feet apart in some places. This can also be the roughest part of the trip if the weather conditions have caused washouts.
How to get there
The road starts at Nevada Highway 374 (Daylight Pass Road), 2 miles east of park boundary Road.