What is an "Improved Dirt Road?"
An improved dirt road is a maintained gravel road where a standard 2WD drive passenger vehicle is able to travel at low speeds, on long, dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. In hilly areas or in curves, the safe speeds may be significantly lower.
As always, road conditions are highly dependent on weather; rains often make these roads more difficult to pass.
The Old Maverick Road runs between Maverick Junction (near the park's west entrance) and Santa Elena Canyon. It is a 14-mile improved dirt road that passes through generally flat desert landscapes. A number of historic sites are located near the road.
While passable to most vehicles generally, this road tends to be rough; the fourteen miles usually takes around an hour to drive.
This road is subject to high water and flooding following rainstorms; always check with a park ranger regarding it's condition.
The Croton Spring Road is located 9 miles west of the Panther Junction Visitor Center. This is a one-mile long road accessing two backcountry roadside campsites.
The Paint Gap Road is located 6 miles west of the Panther Junction Visitor Center along the north side of the park road.
The Paint Gap Hills Road is generally in good condition and accessible to all vehicles throughout the year except past campsite PG-3 where high clearance is REQUIRED at all times. The road is very rocky and rutted where it enters Paint Gap.
The Grapevine Hills Road begins 3.3 miles west of Panther Junction along the north side of the road. The Grapevine Hills Road is generally accessible to all vehicles. After reaching the Grapevine Hills trailhead, the road may become rough and require high-clearance vehicles, especially after any rainfall.
The 2.2 mile roundtrip Grapevine Hills Trail is the major highlight of this road.
This seven-mile road (fourteen miles round-trip) winds eastward to a small valley where a forest of giant dagger yuccas can be found. Allow two hours to complete the drive. The speed limit on this narrow, winding road is 25 miles per hour.
A self-guiding brochure is available that provides a useful key to plants found in the vicinity.
This two-mile gravel road descends down a rough, narrow wash to the Hot Springs Historic District. Remains of J.O. Langford's resort are located nearby, and trails lead to the Hot Spring as well as Rio Grande Village, three miles to the east. Note: Motor homes and oversize vehicles are prohibited on the one-way sections of the Hot Springs road.