Goler Wash & Mengel Pass

Total Miles


1,317.98 ft


1 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Spring, Fall, Winter

Trail Overview

Made famous for the Barker Ranch which the Manson family took over for a brief time, this is a fun trail with a few obstacles leading into Death Valley National Park. You start by traveling up Goler Wash through a long canyon, passing by a mine and a cabin before reaching the Barker Ranch. Past the Ranch is Mengel Pass, where the trail starts to get more difficult with loose rock and off camber situations. After a descent into Butte Valley, there are a few more historical cabins, all of which can be camped at. While the trail starts open to all types of vehicles, only street legal vehicles may continue on the trail once it enters the National Park.

Photos of Goler Wash & Mengel Pass

Goler Wash & Mengel Pass
Goler Wash & Mengel Pass
Goler Wash & Mengel Pass


This trail has only a few difficult sections including a very rocky, off camber descent down Mengel Pass. This section is much easier going South to North.


Charles Manson is perhaps the most notorious mass murderer of all time. He and his 'Manson Family' accomplices were caught hiding out at the Barker Ranch in 1969. It was a major news event. A fire in 2009 destroyed the wooden part of the structure, but the stone portion of the house still remains. Don't miss this interesting side trip.

Technical Rating


Status Reports

Jason Smith
May 15, 2024
2019 Ford Ranger
Nothing hard about this trail. Any 4x4 w decent clearance should make it. Very scenic/historic route.
Ashton Fera
Mar 08, 2024
2021 Toyota 4Runner
Aria Miran
Jan 06, 2024
Ran warm springs road to butte valley, and then up Mengel pass and out the Panamint range to Ballarat. Warm springs has recently been graded all the way to geologists cabin and is an easy cruise posing no challenges. Things get hairy past the cabin. I am in a V8 Land Rover Defender with rear and center lockers and a two speed transfer case. I was aired down to 25psi and I used all of that firepower climbing the pass, which has been washed out from the rains, and features a sandy and off camber base with possibility of body damage if you slide, followed by loose rocks/ boulders mixed with ruts to climb at a steep angle… hair raising but we made it. After that the trail is much rockier than before but nothing overwhelming. Eventually turns to smooth sand again near the Manson camp. I’ve only run that trail with gravity on my side. Exiting Death Valley this way requires experience, capability, and steely nerves at this time. Stay frosty on the pass if you attempt it.
Tyler Durdon
Jan 01, 2024
Started in Ballarat at about 2pm. Started up with no issues. Made it to Barker ranch and and headed to geologist canyon. I’m not an experienced 4x4’er. I have a 2020 stock rubicon manual. I did not expect the amount of rocks on the way down on to the geologist cabin. My wife was with me and this was her first trip. It got stressful at points. She had to get out and jog down the hill… we made it. It was fun but rockier than I expected…

Popular Trails