OverviewDeath Valley National Park on the west side of the valley. The Last Chance Range is anchored on the north by Last Chance Mountain and on the southern end by the taller Dry Mountain . Last Chance Mountain is ranked number 104 on the list of prominence peaks in California with a prominence of 2,379 ft. The signature peak of Death Valley, Telescope Peak, is located about 83 miles southeast of Last Chance Mountain.
There is lots of great information about Death Valley Area, the Panamint Range, and Calif. Desert Peaks on other pages in Summit Post. It would be a duplication of efforts to repeat all that information here. Of special note is Eureka Dunes which are located about 12 air miles south of Last Chance Mountain. It is well worth the side trip to visit these dunes. Beside the views into Death Valley there are great views of the White Mountains, Mt. Whitney and the Sierra’s, and the sand dunes in Eureka Valley.
The vegetation on Last Chance Mountain is different than many of the peaks in Death Valley. It is different because there actually is vegetation. There are lots of Pinyon Pine and Juniper Trees once you climb above 7,600 ft. They aren’t dense enough to make the hike a brush bashing effort, but they are high enough to provide some shade if needed.
There are 2 routes that are most often used to climb to the summit. One from the east begins at the Last Chance Spring. The other is from the south and begins in an old sulphur mining area. I hiked this mountain from the south and refer to the route description for the details. Neither route is technical. The primary danger is the weather with heat and lightning in the summer and the occasional snow storm and high winds in the winter.
The best road is from Big Pine on Hwy 395. Turn east on Hwy 168 on the northern end of the town of Big Pine. At 2.2 miles turn right on Death Valley Road. This is a good mostly paved road without much traffic. Stay on Death Valley Road for 40.3 miles into Death Valley National Park. The road is not paved across Eureka Valley, but it is a great high speed wide gravel road. It is paved again as the road climbs up to the pass on the south side of Last Chance Mountain. When the pavement ends slow down and turn left about 200ft on the gravel road that enters the old sulphur mine.
If you are coming up from Death Valley, go north on Death Valley Road. Where the paved road turns to go up to Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley Road continues straight ahead on a gravel road. This road becomes one miserable wash board beating that punished me for about 20 miles. You can only drive about 15 mph because the road is so bad. This was really miserable in April of 2008. When you finally reach Crankshaft Junction, continue straight to access the south trailhead, otherwise turn right and proceed out to Last Chance Spring to access the east trailhead. For the sulphur mine trailhead, the turn off for the gravel road that enters the old sulphur mine is 27.8 miles from the time you left the nice paved road in Death Valley.
Once at the old sulphur mine stay on the main road that skirts the mine on the west side. Zero your odometer here and at 0.4 mile stay left away from the mine. The gravel road here is not great. It isn’t that bad either, but high clearance may be nice to have. There aren’t any forks off this road, stay on it as it goes into a narrow canyon. At 2.4 miles pass an old gate, and at 2.8 miles you will be in a small valley with obvious mining debris all around. Pass the open shaft mine on the left with pearly white gates, notice a big tractor tire laying alongside the road on the left and then look immediately to you right. You should be able to see an old road bed at the bottom of the little valley. Head up this little road for another 0.4 mile to where the road is washed out. Elevation here is about 6,635 ft. This is the end of the road. I parked here and hiked from the end of the road. You could easily park in the mining area and hike from there also.
Red TapeDeath Valley National Park . Check with the park headquarters if you have any questions.
CampingCamping in Death Valley is a list of Death Valley National Park provided campgrounds.
More info on Commercial Death Valley activities
I car camped at the sulphur mine trailhead without any problem.
There are many places along the route where you could backpack camp including the summit. There is no water available along the route from the sulfur mine. There is usually water available at the east trailhead at Last Chance Spring, but it should be filtered or treated.
When to ClimbWeather. After a snow storm, the snow will add to the difficulty of the hike. In the summer the heat can kill you. It is best to climb the peak in the winter or spring when it isn’t unbearably hot.
Mountain ConditionsDeath Valley weather info.
From the main Home page Death Valley National Park the Morning Report has good info on weather and roads.