Saline Preservation Association

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Posts: 8

Also it should be mentioned here that almost all 'car' rental 'agreements' state specifically that the 'insurance policy' including for the towing that you get with the rental vehicle does not cover you if you drive on a "CLOSED ROAD".... ...Or, drive "Recklessly"; whatever that means legally I don't know, I am not a lawyer, but driving on a "CLOSED ROAD" would likely be considered by the 'insurers' and be included somewhere in the fine-print on the 'contract", as not being covered.

 Technically, both South and North pass Saline Valley road are 'officially' "CLOSED". It is even in 'print' on the NPS website.

Here is what was posted today on the NPS website:

Unpaved/Backcountry Roads:

The standard conditions of backcountry roads vary from 2wd to extreme 4x4 routes. Many roads are very remote and road conditions can change without notice. For more backcountry road information and conditions, please visit Death Valley Road Conditions on Facebook.

  • Mosaic Canyon Road: CLOSED until 6/30/19 due to road construction.
  • Titus Canyon Road: CLOSED due to storm damage.
  • North Eureka Valley Road: CLOSED

  • South Pass and North Pass into Saline Valley: CLOSED due to storm damage and rockfall.
  • Skidoo Road & Aguereberry Point Road: CLOSED due to Emigrant Canyon Road closure.

Here is the URL to the NPS web page with that info.

 Also, FWIW, even if the rental car has not been 'properly maintained' and the car / vehicle breaks down on a "CLOSED ROAD" you in all likelihood will have to pay the whole cost for towing and repair/s, and maybe even more for loss of use/time and 'resale capital loss' if the company really wants to push for maximum.

 Just drive slow and be very careful, and as previously mentioned, be sure you have at least one 'full size' spare tire that is fully pressurized and accessible. Also there actually is the jack and lug wrench.

Good idea to have a couple of 10" to 14" long 2x6 boards for the jack (to use between jack and ground) in case you are somewhere where the ground is soft or need to have more lifting space to raise the vehicle enough. Maybe a shovel and at least a rock pick or other digging pick.

If you are careful and take it easy on the vehicle, stay on the roads and not go off the main roads, you will likely be just fine without any major driving/vehicle problems.



Posts: 100
A clarification regarding as to what constitutes "offroad:"

Rental car contracts often state that driving on a non-paved road voids the contract, specifically in regards to tire damage, towing, and repair. In that (very specific) sense, gravel and dirt roads are considered to be "offroad."

I'm aware of at least one unfortunate renter who damaged the car somewhere on Saline Valley Blvd., and managed to limp out to Darwin, from where he phoned the rental office.

And, after the car was towed in, was informed that he was out of luck, as it was determined - somehow - that the damage could not have occurred on pavement. He appealed, to whomever you appeal those sort of decisions to, and lost...

Posts: 148
my mantra is "easy does it does less damage"
Waucoba-Saline is a mapped county road so is not off-road, gravel is normal surface.
the bat road this weekend was in the smoothest condition I can remember, but drag your rig back to the county road if you need help from the rental company
bob from tahoe
Sam D.

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Posts: 824
Some rental companies embed a GPS tracker. You might get a surprise bill.
There is a lot of concern about flat tires. Actually, I've been seeing a lot of suspension issues recently.


Posts: 100
As an aside to Surfer 2004:

You might want to re-read - carefully - your contract with the car rental company.
Even though you're renting a 4x4, the contract may stipulate that the vehicle can only be utilized for ONROAD use. 

More than a few people have driven rental vehicles to the Springs, but if something breaks, or you need to be towed back to town, etc., the rental company may refuse to cover the cost.

"The big print giveth, and the fine print taketh away."


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Posts: 8

Rav 4 rental is 98% sure to have car tires; NOT 'Truck' Tires.

That being said; to minimize risk of flat tires from rocks, with the aforementioned, so-called "truck tires", (should have "LT" in tire type and have at least a load range of "C" or "B". Make sure the tires on the vehicle you are driving into the valley with have "LT" on the actual tires before you consider them to be "truck tires").
Anyway, 15 MPH Maximum for the LT tires and 10 MPH with lesser side wall and tread ply tires (car tires).

That is with the caveat that you still slow down even more in some rough spots and deep wash boarded areas that have a lot of loose rocks around them, and of course, avoid going over any rocks that look like they could be sharp or broken and made sharp or turned the previously unseen sharp portion of the rock you just ran over with the front tire, then turned sharp-side or sharp point up by the front tire, which then sets up a rear tire for getting punctured.

 The vast majority of the time a tire of any kind, even a super heavy duty tractor or road grader tire that gets punctured by a rock is irreparable.

However, I have seen it where a so-called "not repairable" tire even with a large puncture in the sidewall can be crammed with lots of tire plugs and eased out of the situation by driving very slow and occasionally checking for air pressure loss and re-pressurizing when needed; crawling below 5 mph on the rough dirt roads and Jeep trails, etc... ... Then keeping it below 35 mph on the paved roads and highways on the way going directly to the tire shop, (or where AAA will actually go to and from there tow it to the tire shop).
You don't want a roll-over wreak on the highway, or any other road for that matter caused by an inadequate for high-speed highway use 'emergency' tire repair).

 I have driven into and out of Saline Valley with Volkswagen rabbit full of people and camping gear, Volkswagen rabbit pickup truck with 2 people and very full of camping gear, blazer, 4 x 4, Toyota Chinook Camper hauling a tiny utility trailer once and not hauling any trailer another time and have never once gotten a flat tire.… … Knock on wood!

 Other than the four-wheel-drive K5 Chevy Blazer the 1st time I ever came into the valley, I drove very slowly with all of the other vehicles.

It takes me at least 5 hours going into the valley just to get to bat road from either N Pass or S Pass!...
... One time it took me over 8 hours coming in from the south pass in part, the reason being that the park rangers were blocking the road because they were repairing a flat tire that got which had been punctured by a sharp rock!...
... Which was the 2nd flat tire they said they had in that vehicle within a week!...
... Were they driving too fast? I don't know. I only saw them parked while they were repairing the tire, they were going in the opposite direction I was going. I was going in to the Hot Springs, they were coming out. They were apparently looking for a stranded motorist that they had not yet located.

 At least 2 of those times that I was driving into the valley, the road was freshly graded but not completely graded, (the road grader was part part way down the valley floor for the day).

 Odd thing is that a freshly graded road tempts people to drive to F-ing fast!...
...Which is counter-intuitive because the road grading turns over rocks that have been smoothed out and were firmly planted into the road surface prior to the grading.
Then a couple of things occur that largely increases the risk of rocks causing flat tires; one of which is the grading loosens and exposes sharp edges or points of formally firmly in place smooth side up rocks and, also, the road grader scraping over rocks that are very firmly planted also breaks the rocks sometimes and causes sharp (sometimes almost razor-sharp) edges and also oftentimes  creates sharp-pointed rocks that are much more likely to puncture tires than they were prior to the road grading.

Have a wonderful time at the springs, enjoy the bloom.




Posts: 2
Surfer2004, at the very minimum, your rental car should have a full-size spare.
You can also carry a can or two of Fix-A-Flat and a portable compressor/inflator along with the recommended patch kit.

Posts: 2
Thanks for that great and extensive answer. May I also ask how many trips you have had on this road and of those times how many times you got flat tire?
I will be using a RAV4 rental car so I really need to take it easy and be well prepared.

Posts: 10
Flat tires on North Pass seem to be a number of reasons, in combination with each other or not.

1.  Passenger car tires as fake truck tires.  On a trip to Nevada, in a new (for us) Pathfinder, had 2 flats in one day.  Turns out the "Ridge Runner" tires were passenger car tires with tread.  Ever hitchhike to Austin with a flat tire under your arm, 30 miles out in the dirt road desert?  Does make it easier to get rides, though . . . .

2.  Recent road grading exposing or turning up sharp pointy rocks.  On my last trip to Saline over North Pass, got a flat due to this.  No, I was going slow and avoiding the pointy rocks I could see.  Turns out, it was a combination of #1 and #2, it was a new (for us) 4-runner with the tires pretending to be truck tires.  You think one would learn.  Appearances can be deceiving.

3.  Excessive speed.  On the same last trip, an "artist" came into Saline from South Pass to "experience" the experience.  They discovered if they drive 60 mph over the washboard they didn't feel the washboard.  Result: flat tires and begging food and shelter from the Lower Warm Springs camp.  I understand when they left, they drove the same way and went off the road.  Being a rental car, I am sure they had lots of explaining to do, and Miller's made their boat payment that day.  The 2 flats in Nevada were a combination of #1 and #3.

4.  Old tires, underinflated tires, overinflated tires, nails, the usual suspects.  On an earlier Saline trip, we were told someone(s?) scattered roofing nails alongside the Bat Road, to "keep" people on the traveled way.  No, we didn't get "nailed", but that is pretty low-life . . . . 

Common sence (sez the guy with the flat tires) says you should check your tires (what are they, if you don't know), inflate or deflate as needed, slow the F down, beware of fresh grading, dodge the rocks (tough to do at 60 mph . . .), for the deep desert (and Saline is the deep desert) carry 2 spares (I have used both, once, in a pickup truck desert trip), tire patch kits and pumps (the passenger car tire in #2 was unrepairable, we found out when we backtracked to Bishop when I couldn't plug the tire), know how to use the patch kit.  This doesn't guarantee no flats, but should slow down the occurrences.  Extra food and water and blankets, for when you are stuck out there

Racetrack road is a flat tourist dirt road, North Pass is a rugged desert dirt road


Posts: 2
I have seen on other sites peoples mention they often get flat tires on this road, is it your experience aswell? Could it be that they have to high speed or howe come? What speed is preferable to avoid getting flat tires?
Also I want to ask if someone have experience with racetrack rd and can compare to northpass.
I have only driven from Uberhebe crater to teakettle junction, so beside distance, how is this part of the rd compared to north pass?/thanx
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