Stay on established roads
Driving off roads is prohibited. The desert environment is extremely fragile and slow to recover from vehicle damage. Honor road closures. If in doubt, do not drive.
Vehicles must be street legal. Vehicles with off-the-highway registration (California green-sticker) cannot be operated anywhere within the national park. All vehicles must have valid license plates and highway registration including two-wheel-drive and four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, dune buggies, trail bikes, mini-bikes and every other mechanically-driven means of transportation.
Bicycles are allowed on paved and dirt roads and the bike path near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Bikes are not allowed off roads, on trails, on closed roads, or in the wilderness areas of the park.
The wilderness boundary is 50 feet from the center line of most backcountry dirt roads. Only foot or horseback traffic is allowed within the park's wilderness.
Things can go wrong quickly in the backcountry. Pre-trip planning could save your life. Bring basic tools, a shovel, extra water and food with you. In the higher elevations, snow and ice conditions may require tire chains. Top off your gas tank before starting a trip. Flat tires are a common problem for backcountry visitors due to rough road conditions or from having unsuitable tires. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with "off-road" tires rather than highway or street tires. Carry at least one inflated spare tire (preferably two), a can of fix-a-flat or tire plug kit, a 12-volt air-compressor, a lugwrench, and be sure all parts of your jack are on hand. Know how to use your equipment before you head out.
Always carry extra water for you and your vehicle. In hot weather you need at least a gallon per person per day. A 5-gallon container of water is standard emergency backup. Springs and other natural water sources may be dry or contaminated. Do not depend on them.
If your vehicle breaks down
It is best to stay with your vehicle if it breaks down. On main roads, another traveler should come along sooner than you could walk for help. Leave the car's hood up and/or mark the road with a large X visible to aircraft. If you decide to walk out, stay on the main roads-do not cut cross-country. If it's hot, walk out only if you can carry sufficient water and wait until after sundown. Leave a dated note describing your plan with your vehicle. Dial 911 in case of emergencies, but remember, cell phone reception is non-existant in most areas of the park. Towing charges are high and AAA often doesn't cover tows on dirt roads.
Be a good road neighbor
Stop to help those in need. Report anyone in trouble to the nearest ranger. You may need help yourself some time.
Safety in numbers
Travel in a group of two or more 4WD vehicles in remote areas and on rough roads. If that is not possible, leave a trip plan with a reliable person that will do follow-up on your safe return.
Don't expect road signs
Most backcountry road junctions are unmarked, so carry good maps and study them in advance. Be alert for washouts and other road damage.
Know the weather forecast
Rain or snow can alter road conditions and make travel dangerous. Flashflooding is possible almost anywhere in the park, but is more likely in canyons. Do not camp in dry washes or drainages due to the possibility of a flash flood.