Route: Death Valley N-S Crossing (CA)

California, US
160 mi

This route takes you from the northern most point of Death Valley National Park to its southern most point. No trails, no roads. It is about 160miles long and run the length of the Death Valley. The route proposed here is the one Roland Banas followed, but you are encouraged to make your own. Only the start and the end points matter. This route was first done solo, unsupported and unassisted by Louis-Philippe Loncke in 2015 in just under 8 days and done again by Roland Banas in 2018 in just under 7 days.  The crossing can be done all on trails, but for an unsupported summer trip using a cart for water, that wouldn't be possible.

The route starts on Willow Creek Rd, about a 1.5 miles NE from Last Chance Canyon. Lat: 37.349741 Lon: -117.683353
The route ends at the Harry Wade Monument at the intersection of Death Valley Road (127) and Saratoga Springs Rd. Lat: 35.632850 Lon: -116.290683

A detailed trip report is on Explorer Web:

Louis-Philippe Loncke described the strict unsupported ethic he followed:

To qualify for an FKT unsupported and unassisted, the hiker must carry all his/her food and water supplies from the start and will leave "no trace" (carry out all the trash as well until the end). It is not allowed to receive support from anyone else (navigation, weather, carrying equipment, filming or photography, etc.). The hiker has to feel/act as he/she is the only one on the planet. No pre-placed food or water caches allowed.

All rules of the DV NP must be followed. Please ask for the latest rules. It is not allowed to camp on the Badwater Salt Flat area. It is not allowed to haul a desert cart as it would damage the fragile ecosystem.

It is fair game to use natural elements found in the park (as long as authorized in the park): resupply of water in a remaining water pool, for instance. The use of a satellite phone, distress beacon or GPS does not constitute support.

Any time of the year is allowed. The hardest would be in the full heat (mid-July) of summer. This would be the last remain challenge of DV. The first traverse in mid-summer unsupported, unassisted and off track or called cross country. 

GPS Track


Super Psyched that Saramoira just started at 11:22am today 1-8-2020 with goal of beating the overall mens time :) THIS IS BIG! AND BRUTAL!

Good call out.  Death Valley is amazing - lots of hidden (and some not so hidden) gems there.  The N-S Crossing is ... Jason said it!  Way too hard for me.  "Salt to Snow" OTOH is reasonable (Badwater to Telescope Peak).

Super excited for you Ashly! ~165 miles of desolate, rugged Death Valley...solo, unsupported!!!
This is huge and brutal! Glad I could help with some beta (read:mistakes) from my attempt!
and...After 2 attempts coming up short on this just this year, I really hope it goes for you :)

temps up into the 80s now...those reflective salt ovens will be hot!!!

with all the stoke!!! get it girl!

Hey FKT community,

These routes have special history. It is very important to note the difference in route and ethic between the summer route and the winter route of this Death Valley Crossing. 

The non-summer (standard) variation has followed a very strict off-trail ethic (no walking roads or trails) and a very strict "use nothing man made" such one must carry all their water in a pack because wheels aren't allowed through some of delicate desert wilderness areas. This is what makes this effort so unique and so brutal to master. To soften on this would be to change the whole nature of the effort from the original records. The tab should perhaps be named "strict off-trail route" to better capture this expectation. 

Then, it is important to note, the "July-August Variation" is the exact opposite in that it exclusively follows roads so that you can pull a cart in order to meet your ridiculous water needs during the insane heat. This tab should perhaps be named "July-August Road Variation". It is important to note that in this road variation the unsupported ethic is still very strict against refilling water or other resources from any man-made structure or faucet, even publically available ones. To use these would be self-supported in this instance, do to the style of prior attempts. This is because the water and weight issues are what make this effort so enormous. To change that is to deviate from both the aesthetics and logistical challenge originally faced in conquering these experiences. 

Perhaps there could be a "non-summer road variation" tab as well for those who want the M-S crossing experience without the brutal, strict off-trail or the summer heat.

With stoke and humility,

Jason Hardrath (Follow on IG or FB)

Hello FKT community!

I wanted to formally announce here that I will be attempting the Death Valley N-S crossing starting at first light on December 26th in the style that Louis-Phillippe Locke describes above: solo and unsupported, carrying all my water and supplies from the start, adhering to LNT ethics, and acting as of I am the only one on the planet (an easy feeling to achieve in Death Valley.)

After my last go-round with this route, I'm feeling confident in my ability to finish, however, the weather forecast is calling for rain... Death Valley is prone to flooding, so that could make things interesting!

Live tracking link:

Much love 🧡 and stay wild! 🔆