OverviewWARNING! If you are looking for some sweet desert single track, Death Valley is not the place. Bicycles are not permitted on hiking trails anywhere inside the park.
Echo Canyon Road is one of the many back country roads in Death Valley National Park. Echo Canyon cuts into the Funeral Mountains on the east side of the valley. The road leads to the ruins of the Inyo Mine site; one of the largest mining operations in Death Valley's history.
There are a few crumbling wooden structure and abandon shafts to explore, but please be respectful. As the saying goes, "leave only foot prints (tire tracks) and take only pictures." As well, it is advised that you not enter any shafts or tunnels. There is the very real danger of collapse. There is also the threat of Huanta virus due to the numerous rodents.
Trail DescriptionRiding most of Death Valley's roads is deceiving. Many seem to be not at all steep. Especially when out on one of the countless alluvial fans. And in fact the steepness of most roads is quite moderate. They are notorious for their loose gravel and washboard surfaces though and Echo Canyon is certainly no exception. It is more than likely loss of traction will bring you to a hault more than once.
However, when all the climbing is done, the descent is surprisingly fast. Add to it the loose gravel and you have a fun ride. (albeit rough at times)
Echo Canyon Rd runns 10 miles to the Inyo Mine. Before reaching the mine, at approximately 8 miles from Hwy 190 there is a fork. Taking the branch to the right leads to the Inyo Mine. To the left is the Amargosa Rd. This road leads to a network of side roads. many of which lead to old prospecting sites. The Amargosa Rd crosses the Funeral Mts and descends into the Amargosa Desert and can be followed all the way to US Hwy 95 in Nevada. (I have yet to make the entire trip.)
Getting ThereEcho Canyon Rd leaves California State Route 190, roughly 5 miles from Furnace Creek.
When to BikeThe best time to ride this road or any other in the park is between late fall and early spring.
MiscellaneousCurrently there is a $20.00 entrance fee for each passenger vehicle. Entry fees can be paid at any of the automated kiosks in the park or at the Visitors Center in Furnace Creek. The kiosks accept both cash and credit cards.
The Echo Canyon Road is a popular 4x4 route. Caution should be used but typically any gas powered engine can be heard coming for some distance.
Camping is allowed in Echo Canyon beyond 2 miles from Hwy 190.
Furnace Creek provides all the comforts of home. There is a lodge, general store, gas, golf, small airport, tent and RV camping, swimming pool and the Death Valley Visitors Center. Of course there is also the famous Furnace Creek Inn. It is perhaps just 3.5 miles from the start of Echo Canyon Rd. My favorite campground is Texas Springs located about 0.25 miles south of the Lodge.
Permits are not required required for backcountry travel. But if you wish, they can be aquired at the Furnace Creek VC. I did get one for my first trip into this canyon and the ranger was quite surprised that I even bothered.