Explore the most popular off road driving trails near Independence with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

The road is a long and bumpy ride. We drove in a Toyota Rav and has no issues thankfully but it took us 3 hours each way. I wouldn’t mess around with this, we saw no one out there.

The Grandstand or black rock structure was so awesome. It sticks out on as a stark distance between the playa. We climbed around on the rocks easily, it was very fun. Some bigger lizards too.

The Sailing Stones were my favorite. Unfortunately, a lot of people have vandalized them and you can tell the rocks that made the trails are not the rocks that someone placed there. There are also a lot of trails with no rocks at the beginning or end. It’s disappointing no one has respect for such an awesome phenomenon. There are some legitimate ones but I wish they would keep a better eye on the place.

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of the hikes and other adventures @wildrumpfie

off road driving
5 months ago

Off-road clearance recommended and not really fo cars.
note that the trail is often washboarded and that can really slow you down.
There are a couple of good trails you can explore further (and an alternative out) but those are for experienced off-road drivers only.

Just was up there recently and weather was perfect! Wrote a little trip report too. Definitely be careful driving out there, we did get a flat tire on our way back! Still totally worth going to see this place in person.
http://www.shedreamsofalpine.com/blog/2017/12/6/a-weekend-in-death-valley-visit-the-racetrack-mesquite-flat-sand-dunes-and-badwater-basin

off road driving
8 months ago

Saline Valley Trail was closed, so I took "Saline Valley Road Drive" in, which is mile after mile of boring and monotonous washboard. Lippincott Mine Road was such a welcome change. Took the trail in a 2nd Gen Tacoma DCSB with 3" extended travel suspension, 32" BFGs and high clearance bumpers. Don't need a lot of clearance or anything extreme on this trail, but I wouldn't recommend anything that comes from the factory without a low-range t-case. Never used the locker, but the A-Trac did kick in a little in the front during some of the rockier sections. Gets pretty steep, off-camber and narrow with tight turns in the switch backs. Fun trail, with great views. The trail terminates at Homestake dry camp. If you pass through the camp and follow a rougher track you can find more private camping spots.

Great easy to moderate trail (at the higher elevations/along side spurs), very scenic. After traveling for a while up a pretty canyon, you end up high in the Inyo Mountains with great views of Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra. Definitely explore some of the spurs off to the west for the best views.

off road driving
Tuesday, April 04, 2017

An epic drive in the middle of an epic drive. To be clear, you cannot go 'off-road' but there is so little of a route here that you'll feel like you are driving up the side of a mountain. Devils Racetrack at one end, Saline Springs at the other.

walking
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Beautiful wide view. Not much of a walk, but the vista is worth it!
The valley is used by fighter pilots for low canyon flight training. We saw two thundering by in the course of 30min, Quite impressive.

on Racetrack Road

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

You can tell who's driving the rentals because they're flying down the road. It took awhile in my Tacoma and if you try this in a car(and we saw cars) be careful. But it's worth the trip.

off road driving
Monday, December 26, 2016

My Jeep Compass got shock oil leaked at the end of the road but managed to get back with careful driving. I've seen Mustang on the road as well. The south end of the lakebed has more interesting rocks. Amazing landscape.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Tough drive, well worth it with the right vehicle, very unique feature if you can make it there

off road driving
Saturday, April 02, 2016

Beautiful once you get to the racetrack. Roads are freshly grated so the drive is slow going

off road driving
Monday, January 25, 2016

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.

hiking
Friday, December 11, 2015

off road driving
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I started the drive out to the Racetrack around 4am to catch the sunrise, with little off-roading experiencing and in a rental mid-size SUV it was intimidating in the dark. But coming back during the day, while other cars were just beginning the drive out, was a thrill. The scenery is interesting with the grove of Joshua trees and desert plants.

nature trips
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you start across the Racetrack from the lot near the Grandstand, it's a surprisingly long walk across and back. On the way out from the Grandstand I passed what was left of a stream (moist earth and tumbleweed-type plants rooted) but on the way back didn't see it whatsoever! The rocks you want to see once you've checked out the Grandstand are way to the south end of the Playa, and more to the southeast end of it. If you go toward the south lot, you'll notice a lot of tracks with either no rock or the wrong rock trailing from it, sometimes a rock on each end of the trail smh. But heading east you'll find the less-disturbed rocks and their rightful tracks. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE OR TAKE ROCKS.

And DEFINITELY drive out in a car suitable for offroading. Its a bumpy 27 mile drive the whole way!

off road driving
Monday, June 22, 2015

Amazing. Worth the long drive, especially since the surrounding scenery includes beautiful mountains and hills covered with Joshua trees. There was one other vehicle the day we went out; we had the lake bed to ourselves for quite a while.

walking
Sunday, May 24, 2015

I wouldn't exactly call this a trail, it's more of a "get out and wander around aimlessly." The "Trail" starts out at a turnout on Racetrack road, and you simply head out onto the dry playa to explore at your leisure. Starting from the pullout at the northern end of Racetrack Playa, you get to explore The Grandstand, a dark rock outcrop that stands out in stark contrast to the nearly white, dead flat playa. You'll also see many "moving rocks" scattered about, mostly near the Grandstand and between it and the trailhead. Based on my own examination of perhaps fifty of these, many of them were apparently placed here by thoughtless idiots for the purpose of an "I was here" photo, as I could find no evidence of any of them having moved under the influence of natural forces. To see the real thing, head back to your car.
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Drive to the pullout at the southern end of the playa, park, and walk east. You'll see authentic moving rocks (note the long trails in the mud), and you may even be able to see the curvature of the earth in the extraordinarily flat lakebed. Recent scientific studies finally caught some of these rocks in the act of moving, showing that it happens when there is a thin layer of water on the playa, and perhaps a sheet of floating ice. The ice makes a large surface for the wind to work on, and it drags any imbedded rocks along with it wherever it goes. Another theory says that rocks may move across wet mud under very high winds, which have been recorded as high as 70 miles per hour near the playa's surface.

hiking
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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.

hiking
Sunday, September 16, 2012

I started on this trail from Independence to Mazourka Peak on Saturday, Sept 15, 2012. I came out at Big Pine 7 hours later. It was described as an easy one way in-one way out trail and that is true. I'm guessing the tower operators pay to keep the road smooth for service trucks But when I got to the peak, I noticed a trail going north to Papoose Flats with a sign on the side which said "Road to Papoose Flats washed out". So I took it. You continue north over two mountains through woods on a defined trail. Some technical skill required. No major obstacles. A lift would be helpful but not required-- i was on 35" tires with a 4" lift. No washed out road noticed. No lockers required. 4WD mandatory due to steepness and loose dirt. A lot of off-camber driving. This part of the drive is breathtaking with great views of the Owens River Valley north and south for miles! From Papoose Flats, there is a smooth section with very little elevation change at about 8000 to 9000 feet, and then a steep descent into Death Valley Road where it is paved into Big Pine. On the way down this paved DVR, there is a sign on an A-Frame facing traffic going towards Death Valley saying "Road Closed". You can't always believe what you read!

off road driving
Friday, March 18, 2011

Great off-roading. Many side excursions to explore, however make sure to bring maps, both road type and topos depending on what you do. Make sure to have loads of water especially in the Summer (all year long) when the temps sky rocket into the triple digits. Spring is an absolute must, the floral that explode for a very brief time is a life must on anyones' Bucket List and is different every year depending on volume and length of precipitation.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
6 months ago

off road driving
Sunday, June 25, 2017

off road driving
Sunday, February 05, 2017

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

off road driving
Sunday, March 27, 2016

off road driving
Sunday, March 27, 2016

off road driving
Sunday, September 13, 2015