Father Crowley Vista is a 1.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Independence, CA that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and off road driving and is accessible year-round.
off road driving
Father Crowley Vista is an easy one mile RT out and back dirt road trail to a vista overlooking a salt valley on Hwy 190 just within Death Valley National Park. A landscape of dark lava flows and volcanic cinders abruptly gives way to the gash of Rainbow Canyon below this viewpoint. Walk the dirt track east of the parking lot for a grand overlook of northern Panamint Valley. Named after Father John Crowley, Padre of the desert 1891 - 1940, Father Crowley Vista looks toward Towne Pass, which at 5000 feet takes you into Stovepipe Wells and Death Valley's Mesquite Sand Dunes area.
Nice little vista to get a better view of the canyon and valley before descending into Panamint Springs. There is a single bench where you can take in the views.
We were the only person there (other than a ranger making his rounds) so we just drove the half mile or so to the end of the trail.
Between Death Valley and Lone Pine we stopped at Father Crowley Vista for a grand view of the Panamint Valley. The road is fine for a 4x4, but we could only drive part way down the dirt road in our van, and walked the rest of the way to the vista. It had been 129 degrees in Death Valley the previous day and it was already getting hot, but the stop and views were worth it, giving us a chance to stretch our legs and walk down to the vista and back up to the paved parking area. The view really gives you a sense of how big Death Valley NP really is, since this is on the other side of the mountains from the Mesquite Sand Dunes area.