It was Day 3 of our Death Valley road trip. We dedicated the entire day to driving to Racetrack Playa. After an enjoyable pitstop at the famous Teakettle Junction, Buddy and I are sharing Everything You Need To Know for a Fun Time at Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction!
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How to get to Teakettle Junction
The only way to get to Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction is with a four-wheel drive vehicle. This is because road to the junction is a narrow dirt road lined with sharp rocks. If you are traveling to Death Valley in your own four-wheel drive vehicle, which many travelers did when we visited, then you are good to travel on all the of the national park’s dirt roads!
However, if the car that you drove into Death Valley is not a four-wheel drive, you will need to rent a Jeep to get to Teakettle Junction. This is also true for other areas of the park that are only accessible by four-wheel drive.
Given that we do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle, but we really wanted to visit Racetrack Playa and Teakettle Junction, we chose to rent a Jeep! If you want to rent a Jeep to explore Death Valley, this is what you need to know!
Renting a Jeep in Death Valley
First, there is only one place to rent a Jeep in Death Valley and that is at Farabee’s Jeep Rentals located in Furnace Creek, CA. If you are traveling to Death Valley and want to visit Teakettle Junction, these are our tips for renting a jeep.
No, this is not a paid promotion. We rented the Jeep with our own funds and all the tips we list below are our own.
Reserve your Jeep early, especially if you are visiting in Spring, which is the high season. You can reserve your Jeep via email or by calling the office.
I recommend calling the office as internet in Death Valley can be spotty at times. We visited Death Valley in Spring. The Friday we rented our Jeep, we saw some walk ins turned away as all the Jeeps were sold out.
Go Old School
Bring a printout of your proof of car insurance with you. WIFI and phone service is very spotty in Death Valley, so don’t count on your phone to download your documents onsite. Yes, you could download a copy of your insurance to your phone. However, the Farabee’s takes a photo of your car insurance policy for documentation with a phone. So, it may be easier to bring a backup hard copy just in case. The rental agency will need a copy of your car insurance and your driver’s license to rent a Jeep.
The day we rented our Jeep, we overheard fellow travelers scrambling to find a copy of proof of car insurance as they forgot to bring it with them. You don’t want to miss out on your adventure! Remember to bring a copy of your car insurance.
Plan your route beforehand
Come with your route planned. The staff at Farabee’s Jeep Rental are friendly and knowledgeable. They will share recommendations for your route, including updated road conditions. They provide you with a map and detailed information about the road on which you will be traveling.
When we rented a Jeep, the staff at Farabee’s provided us with specifics including marking on the map the parts of the road that were sandy or narrow, where there were areas with blind turns, and how to avoid sharp rocks.
Pick up your Jeep early
If you want to have the most time possible exploring Death Valley on its network of dirt roads, pick up your Jeep as soon as you can! Pick up times can be busy. To avoid lines, get there early.
When we visited Death Valley, we stayed in Stovepipe Wells, a 30-minute drive northwest of Furnace Creek where Farabee’s is located. Although we planned to pick up the Jeep as soon as Farabee’s opened, we opted to spend some time that morning watching the sunrise and the full moon set. Thus, we arrived at Farabee’s 30 minutes after it opened, a full 30 minutes later than planned. And when we arrived, there was a line to pick up Jeeps!
Unfortunately, in part because we picked up our Jeep later than planned, we ran out of daylight and did not get a chance to drive Titus Canyon Road. But watching the sunrise and moon set was worth it!
Overall, we were happy with our experience renting from Farabee’s Jeep Rentals. The interior of the Jeep was clean, the water was cold, and the GPS Spot Unit for emergency tracking reassuring just in case anything happened. But luckily, we didn’t need it!
According to their map, we were the first people from Tucson, AZ to rent a Jeep. Buddy did the honor of placing a pin indicating his hometown on the Farabee’s “Where Are You From?” map.
Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction
After renting your Jeep, take Racetrack Road to Teakettle Junction. Teakettle Junction is located 6 miles from Racetrack Playa, 19 miles from Hunter Mountain, and 26 miles from Grapevine Station on the dirt Racetrack Road in Death Valley. Racetrack Road begins at Ubehebe Crater and ends at the Homestake Dry Camp south of Racetrack Playa. Teakettle Junction is an amusing landmark. Here are our top 5 for a fun time at Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction!
Bring a teakettle!
There is a tradition that travelers visiting Teakettle Junction leave a teakettle at the mileage sign. Teakettle Junction is filled with many teakettles left by fellow travelers. Some teakettles were signed with the names and dates of travelers. Others were adorned with quotes from famous poets or phrases from popular culture. A few teakettles wore trinkets from the state and region of the travelers who left them. And hanging among the teakettles was a frying pan and a hiking boot!
If you plan on visiting Teakettle Junction, bring a teakettle! And if you are feeling in the mood, take some time to adorn your teakettle with something unique to your home or a quote unique to you. It is a fun tradition to continue for Death Valley travelers who choose to adventure on the national park’s dirt roads!
Unaware of this tradition, Buddy and I did not bring a teakettle to leave at the junction. Had I known, we would have spent some time decorating a teakettle with trinkets from Tucson. Like a teakettle covered in saguaro cactus as a love letter from one desert to another. But alas, we were not aware of the teakettle tradition arrived empty handed.
I loved the teakettle from my home state of New Mexico! Adorned with a Zia symbol sticker, a red chile ristra sticker, an Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta sticker, and a ceramic yellow (a New Mexico state color) Día de los Muertos calavera, it represented my home state to perfection! I enjoyed experiencing a bit of home at Teakettle Junction in Death Valley.
Bring a Sharpie
If you bring a teakettle, you may want to sign it. That is where the Sharpie comes in. In the case you do not decorate your teakettle beforehand, make sure you have a Sharpie on hand to leave a message or sign it.
Shortly after we arrived at Teakettle Junction, we were joined by four fellow travelers who arrived with a teakettle to place on the Teakettle Junction sign. But they did not have a Sharpie to sign their teakettle. Luckily, I always travel with a Sharpie in my backpack because you never know when you are going to need it! They borrowed the Sharpie and signed their tea kettle before adding it to the mix.
Be prepared to meet friendly fellow travelers
Even during high season, there were not too many travelers on Racetrack Road in Death Valley. However, the fellow travelers you do meet are usually friendly. Fellow travelers tend to ask questions about where you are from, and what you have seen in the national park thus far.
At our pit stop at Teakettle Junction, we met two groups of travelers. The first group included the four travelers who borrowed my Sharpie to sign their teakettle. The second group of travelers was a couple who pulled up in their own Jeep. After chatting for a while, we learned that they lived in the Lake Tahoe area. We talked about the seasons, winter snow and warm desert weather. At the end of our conversation, they gifted me and Buddy the cutest Lucky Duck!
At Teakettle Junction in Death Valley, we met the masterminds behind the blogs A Jeep’s Life and Must Bring Snacks! They were gifting Lucky Ducks to all Jeeps that they encountered at the national park. Since we were honorary Jeep drivers that day, they kindly gifted a spotted green duck. It was our first experience being ducked! Our lucky duck is a great souvenir, and it is now sitting on my desk at home.
A Jeep’s Life featured even featured a photo of us on their blog.
Prepare for bumpy roads
Racetrack Road is bumpy, and, like other roads in Death Valley, it is windy in some places. If you are someone who gets carsick easily, you may want to consider bringing something for car sickness with you on the trip.
Luckily, Buddy and I do not experience car sickness. But we are mindful of friends who do easily get carsick.
Thee are no restrooms in or around Teakettle Junction. The closest flush toilets to Teakettle Junction are in Grapevine Station, which is 26 miles away. There is a porta potty (literally a porta potty, not a vault toilet) at the Homestake Dry Campground at the end of Racetrack Road south of Racetrack Playa. That. Is It. If you think you may need to use the facilities during your trip to Teakettle Junction, we recommend planning accordingly.
As Buddy and I filmed a Movement Postcard at Teakettle Junction, Sal explored the area. Unfortunately, he found a spot where travelers created their own outdoor toilet area with soiled toilet paper, used sanitary napkins, and feces. Upon reflection, he said that discovering that area, particularly the smell, ruined the experience for him.
Perhaps, NPS should also consider putting a vault toilet in the area. But until that happens, if you absolutely need to go while near Teakettle Junction, consider practicing Leave No Trace to dispose of human waste. And please leave the beauty of the desolate Death Valley and the fun Teakettle Junction for all to enjoy!
Overall, Buddy and I had a great time renting a Jeep and driving to Teakettle Junction in Death Valley. It was fun filming a Movement Postcard at the site and reading all of the messages on the tea kettles. Renting the Jeep and driving on Death Valley’s dirt roads to Teakettle Junction was a once in a lifetime experience that we would absolutely do again!
Have you visited Teakettle Junction in Death Valley? If so, did you leave a teakettle? Have you been ducked? If so, when? Let us know in the comments below!
Planning a trip to Death Valley? Check out our series about the national park!
- Five Things To See in Death Valley in One Day
- Traveling to Dante’s View in Death Valley? Here’s Everything You Need To Know!
- Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
- An Easy Guide to Hiking Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley
- 5 Easy Tips for Badlands Loop Hike in Death Valley
- 6 Tips for Hiking the Unique Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley
- Everything You Need To Know for a Fun Time at Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction
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