Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.

Hover cursor over segment slices (below) for exact  grade of a particular segment. Map route (bottom) colors correlate with elevation legend colors.

 Note:  Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the Townes Pass East RideWithGPS page.  Hover over the distance line at the spot you would like to begin a sub-  segment for this climb.  Click your mouse on the start point and drag the vertical graphing line the distance you wish to obtain sub-detail from, then release the  mouse at the end point.  This will give you the following sub-detail for the selected segment in the “Metrics” window top right of the page:  (a) distance, (b) elevation  gained and lost, (c) max grade, (d) average grade (e) that segment's climb category – e.g. Cat 1, HC, etc., and (f) FIETS score for the segment.

Townes Pass Summit 

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Cycling and Climbing Death Valley

Townes Pass East


  • Distance:                                          16.9 miles

  • Beginning elevation:                      0'

  • Ending elevation:                            4,956'

  • Elevation gained:                            4,962'

  • Average Grade:                               5.6%

  • Fiets Index:                                       8.95

  • Location:  Climb begins at the Sea Level sign in Stovepipe Wells, CA, 158 miles northeast of Las Vegas International Airport and 265 miles northeast of LAX (36.60709, -117.14599 latitude/longitude).  

Ride Description


Townes Pass East begins in Stovepipe Wells, CA and is the highest ranked climb in Death Valley at #50 on the Top 100 list. The first several miles of this climb seem almost flat and we are definitely in an arid, desert-like setting. We begin to climb into more mountainous, yet stark, landscape around miles 7 and 8. As of October, 2014, there was water at the 9 mile point at Emigrant Campground. There is very little vegitation along this climb and no trees. As with most of the Death Valley climbs, the views are very stark and desert to high desert-like. This climb is one of the less scenic of the 5 Top 100 climbs located in Death Valley, but certainly a challenge and can be done in conjunction with #90 Townes Pass West (an over-and-backer) or unranked Emigrant Pass East (Death Valley Main Page).

Weather: Do NOT attempt these climbs in the summer when the average​ high temperatures range from 101-116 between May and September. (See Weather summary, below, for more details.

     Traffic and Roadway report:  As of October, 2014, the roadway surface was excellent throughout this ride but there is minimal to no shoulder and traffic can zoom by at highway speeds.