Trail difficulty
Green
Elevation Gain
580.00 ft (176.78 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
14.50 mi (23.34 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

In the sandy dunes of the Cordillera de Sal (Salt Mountain Range) lies the Valle de Marte (Mars Valley), also known as the Valle de Muerte (Death Valley). Both are fitting names for this area of the Atacama Desert, as there is no life in sight and the rock formations and great sand dunes give it an out-of-this-world feel. The Atacama Desert, located in northern Chile, is one of the driest places in the world. Due to this, and the lack of vegetation, saline minerals have been able to settle on the land.

There’s no better way to see this desert than riding your bike through it. There are plenty of mountain bike shops located in the nearby town, San Pedro de Atacama. Most shops will offer you a bike with a helmet, tool kit, and tire pump all included.

The beginning of your 14.5-mile bike ride will be on the main highway (Ruta 23) from San Pedro de Atacama to the park entrance (approximately 4.5 miles), where you will pay a small entrance fee. The park ranger will give you a park map with different trail options. From here, the ride is relatively flat along the dirt road, with some moderate hills. You will have plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the views of Licancabur Volcano (17,748 feet), as well as capture the stillness of the Mars Valley.

Note: A couple of miles into the ride, you must hike to get to one of the best viewpoints in the park, as it is too sandy to ride your bike.

Logistics + Planning

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Endless desert views. Easy to navigate.

Cons

Difficult to ride in sandy areas.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

8,600.00 ft (2,621.28 m)

Highest point

8,600.00 ft (2,621.28 m)

Features

Family friendly
Historically significant
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Hiking

Route Characteristics

Trail

Location

Field Guide

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