California: Death Valley Multisport
Multisport in California with Backroads
- Hike among rock formations that look like Neopolitan ice cream
- Relish in the peacefulness of the desert
- Zabriskie Point, with an extraordinary panoramic view of the Panamint Range
- Bike across salt flats to the lowest point in the U.S.
- Spectacular Mosaic Canyon, where marble fragments are fused to the narrow rock walls
Unexpected Wonders in California's Mojave Desert
It's overlooked. Passed by. Ignored. The whole thing. It's called Death Valley but you'll see the life, the plants, the animals, everything. One moment it may seem like there's nothing. But the next you'll see the beauty and peace of it all. Stark beauty by day. By night, the luxury of the Furnace Creek Inn. It's just a four-day trip but you'll return rejuvenated like you've been away for years. It's a place that sounds harsh by name and somehow you'll feel so good. And glad you didn't overlook Death Valley.
Though the weather in Death Valley can often be mild and pleasant, high winds and strong sun can sometimes create extreme conditions. Please note that the temperatures in the chart below are averages; temperatures can soar to over 100 degrees during the day or drop as low as the 30s at night. Although the average rainfall in Death Valley during the time of our trips is slight, heavy rainstorms, especially in the spring, are still possible. Additionally, wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour are not uncommon.
- All lodgings
- All meals included
- Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
- Snacks and beverages between meals
- Additional guides and experts from the region on may trips
- Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
- Comprehensive Travel Planner with detailed pre-trip information
- Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other select attractions as noted
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants on Inn Trips
- On Biking and Multi-Sport trips use of fully equipped Backroads titanium bike plus helmet and accessories
- Trailercycles, carriers and Kid-sized helmets for Family Trips
- Park and other entry fees
- Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel
- Select coach transfers
- Baggage transfers and porterage
- Backroads water bottle
- Alcoholic beverages (Backroads provides wine at select events)
- Gratuities for Trip Leaders
- Personal expenses
Day by Day Itinerary
Meet your Backroads Trip Leaders (the folks wearing Backroads T-shirts) at 7 a.m. at the limo and bus pick-up area outside the doors of Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Please arrive dressed to ride or with your biking gear packed in a separate small bag so you can change at our lunch spot.
Shuttle to Death Valley National Park 3½ Hours
Scotty’s Castle Tour 1 Hour
Mud Canyon Biking Route 36 Miles with Shuttle (300-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: 54 miles (500-foot elevation gain)
After meeting we shuttle to Scotty’s Castle, nestled among cottonwood trees in northern Death Valley National Park, near the mouth of Grapevine Canyon. The flamboyant Moorish-style mansion, built in 1922, was the brainchild of Walter “Scotty” Scott, a gold prospector and Wild West trick rider, and Albert Johnson, an insurance millionaire from Chicago. Rangers dressed in period costumes lead us on a history tour of the estate and its antiques, paintings, ceramics, pipe organ, indoor waterfall and 18 fireplaces.
After a picnic lunch at the castle, your Trip Leaders fit your bike and give a brief talk on biking techniques and safety. Today’s ride to Mud Canyon is mostly level with a few hills. As you descend into the valley, notice the Great Salt Flats shimmering in the distance—the mirage makes it appear as if you’ve reached the ocean’s shore. Daylight permitting, you can ride all the way to Furnace Creek Inn, with the magnificent Panamint Range towering around you, or climb in the Backroads van to complete the journey.
As you settle in at the inn and check out its amenities, you may be interested to know that Furnace Creek is a natural oasis: its 50 freshwater springs provide water for drinking, showers, irrigation and even the swimming pool. Tonight we gather for a delicious dinner featuring the local delicacy—fried cactus—in the Furnace Creek dining room.
Lodging: Furnace Creek Inn
Shuttle to Mosaic Canyon 45 Minutes
Mosaic Canyon Hike 4 Miles (900-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: Mosaic Canyon Entrance 2 Miles (450-foot elevation gain)
Optional Furnace Creek Biking Route 24 Miles
A morning shuttle brings us to the trailhead for a hike into narrow Mosaic Canyon, one of the park’s few chasms created by water rather than shifting faults. Its mosaic-like appearance—the result of marble fragments fused to the rock walls by sediment—is absolutely beautiful! Though moderate, this hike does require some scrambling over rocks at the waterfall. If you’re uncomfortable, you can always hike back out the way you came.
After lunch you can take a leisurely ride, stopping to explore the wonders of the park along the way. Stretch your legs on a walk amid the sand dunes at Mesquite Flat or at Devil’s Cornfield, where tangles of sand and arrowweed form bizarre “haystacks.” You can also take a stroll on the Salt Creek Boardwalk and learn the story of the Salt Creek pupfish, endemic to Salt Creek. Another point of interest is the old Harmony Borax Works, one of the most successful borax operations in Death Valley. In the late 1800s, prospectors in search of gold and silver instead discovered borax. A multipurpose mineral, it became known as “white gold.” Twenty-mule teams hauled loads of it over the mountains to the nearest railhead in Mojave—a ten-day journey over 180 miles of rough roads. The visitor center and the Borax Museum are both excellent places to learn more about the area’s natural history. Later we head to the Wrangler Steakhouse for a hearty dinner.
Lodging: Furnace Creek Inn
Badwater Biking Route 17 Miles with Shuttle (300-foot elevation gain)
Longer Options: Out and Back to Badwater 34 Miles (900-foot elevation gain) or Via Artist’s Drive 46 miles (2,300-foot elevation gain)
Our last ride is smooth and relatively level, with some gradual downhills and short steeper uphills thrown in. En route to Badwater, you’ll see the mesmerizing mirage of a sandy beach on the giant Salt Playa. According to legend, Badwater, the lowest point in the United States, was inadvertently named by an early surveyor who wrote “bad water” on the map when his mule refused to drink here. (You can’t blame the mule—the water supposedly tastes like a concentrated dose of Epsom salts!) Although Badwater initially appears to be downright inhospitable, a closer look reveals a thriving ecosystem. Keep an eye out for salt lovers such as pickleweed and the iodine bush, as well as the valley’s indigenous soft-bodied saltwater snail. The longer out-and-back option passes the Devil’s Golf Course and Natural Bridge. If you’re looking for an extra challenge, tack on a technical 12-mile ride out to Artist’s Palette.
Back at Furnace Creek, take a dip in the pool or play golf at the lowest course in the world, 214 feet below sea level. (Golf is not included in the trip price.) Depending on your tee time and whether you want to play a full round, you may have to skip today’s ride. Tonight we celebrate our western adventure with a farewell dinner at the inn.
Lodging: Furnace Creek Inn
Golden Canyon Hike 2.8 Miles (950-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to Las Vegas 3½ Hours
From Golden Canyon we take a morning hike up to Zabriskie Point, the park’s most celebrated vista. Surrounded by tall sandstone walls, walk through a maze of multicolored badlands. You’ll pass under 823-foot Manly Beacon, named for William Manly, who led his stranded emigrant party safely out of Death Valley in 1849. At Zabriskie Point, you’ll get an amazing panoramic view of the Panamint Range, including Telescope Peak and the badlands’ yellow sandstone. Look for ancient lava flows in the Black Mountains to the south. Back at Furnace Creek, there’s time to shower before we have lunch and shuttle back to Las Vegas.
About The Operator:
Every Backroads vacation is a one-of-a-kind adventure, where serendipity is supported - often invisibly - by a well choreographed backstage effort. After 30 years of practice, we've perfected the craft of creating and delivering world-class experiences and service, both hallmarks of a carefree Backroads vacation.
We ease your trip preparation with little extras, from a recommended packing list to lodging suggestions for before and after your trip. During your vacation, we make sure your luggage is waiting in your room, you have a cool drink or a lift when you desire them, and travel logistics are handled so you can focus on fun and relaxation.
Anticipating and responding to your needs - that is our commitment!Worldwide Presence
The Best Routes
All Backroads itineraries have been carefully researched by our team of 23 Trip Specialists and 9 Regional Managers to ensure you experience the very best way to explore the region. And before your trip, the routes are once again tested by our Trip Leaders-each and every season.
Seven Days of Service
Your Backroads Trip Consultants are available 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, to answer your questions.
We've designed our trips with plenty of options that let you personalize each day and make the most of your vacation. And on each day of the trip (or the night before if you're heading out early), you'll receive a Daily Snapshot that gives you all of the important information you need so that you have control of your precious time.
Bikes & Accessories
All Biking and Multisport Trips include use of a fully equipped, custom-designed Backroads Titanium bike. Choose either upright or drop handlebars. Backroads is also unique among travel companies in manufacturing our own line of custom-designed kids' bikes. For the younger ones we offer the Burley d'Lite trailer and Burley Piccolo trailercycle.
A Choice of Lodging
We're the only company that distinguishes between Premiere Inns and Casual Inns, making it easy for you to choose a trip that suits your personal style. We provide an honest assessment of each hotel giving you an assurance of quality you can trust.
Backroads has been taking responsible travel seriously since our first trip over 30 years ago. While traveling on two feet or two wheels is the ultimate minimal-impact approach to traveling, we recognize that any travel has an impact and so we do everything we can to make the impact as light and as positive as possible.
When you're out exploring, you may welcome some time to yourself, but when needed, we are there. We pioneered on-trip vehicle support and we continue to perfect it. Read more about On-Trip Support.
Local experts team up with your Backroads leaders, offering firsthand perspectives to enhance your overall experience. From explorations of historic and cultural sites, to culinary adventures showcasing traditional cuisine, to visits with special friends we've made over the years, we take you into the heart of a region with an immediacy and authenticity you'll never forget.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling with Backroads is the wonderful folks you travel with-adventurers who appreciate the Backroads level of quality, pursue new experiences with a passion and take their fun as seriously as they take their work. "People less interested in impressing each other than in having a good time," is how Departures magazine captured the spirit of our guests. Join us-and travel in terrific company.
Nobody knows families like Backroads. From our designated Kid Coordinators to extra vehicle support to custom-designed kids' bikes (a Backroads exclusive), we've considered all angles important to families. Each family trip balances quality time together and apart, with welcome opportunities for everyone to take a break and recharge-something that's virtually impossible to achieve when you vacation on your own.
Your Trip is Guaranteed
At Backroads we're so committed to providing you with an extraordinary experience that we guarantee the quality of your trip. We value our relationship with you, our guest, and want it to be mutually rewarding and long-term.
Our Leaders Make the Trip
You'll find Backroads Trip Leaders to be the best you've ever traveled with. That's not an idle claim-it's backed by the most rigorous recruiting, hiring, training and guest satisfaction programs in the business. View the full scoop on our leaders and why you'll love them.