Death Valley trip looking for input

Discussion in 'Trails - Events - Expeditions' started by Diggs84, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Diggs84

    Diggs84

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    Attention Mud Death Valley Experts!

    I will be making my first trip down to SoCal in my 80. Locked, Toyo AT3 33s, OEM subtank, may or may not have winch by then but should have a come-along. Also, may or may not have friend in stockish 2017 Taco joining.

    None of us have been to Death Valley before. The tentative plan is to enter on the East through DV Junction head up to Furnace Creek, then down Badwater and out Mengel Pass to Ballarat. Maybe going up Jail Canyon. Up to Panamint Springs for fuel. Then up to Teakettle, Racetrack, Lippincott Mine, Saline Valley Warm springs then hopefully out to Cerro Gordo and up to Lone Pine for fuel and exit toward Lake Tahoe.

    I will be going last week of March arriving in DV on a Monday. I will obviously be checking with the park service for the latest conditions and such.

    How's the route? Fuel concerns? Anything I should cut? Add? I'm a coastal rain forest dweller, what sorts of Death Valley specific provisions should I be including? Also some tips on great camping spots would be welcome.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  2. samiam09

    samiam09

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    with only one truck? yes it can be done.............. lots of people don't survive. Haven't been up there in 2 years, the main roads death valley are great. Mengel pass was ruff but we had lots of stock trucks with us. bring lots of water and tire patches with a way to refill tires, and gas .Have fun. would bring someone in another truck just in case. every year they pick up body's in death valley. Mind you they are the people heading up there in the warmer months. to go to Cerro Gordo you might want to call ahead.They like a heads up before you get there.Phone number (760) 876-5030 It pretty cool Think I sliced a tired on the swansie -cerro gordo trail which is kinda a back way in you get to see the old aerial tramway they used to haul salt out of the saline valley to the lake. Also another one comming out of cerro gordo with oar from the mines. Good luck sounds like a good trip. warm sleeping bags. By the way not a expert But I do love the area. check this resoucehttp://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/90-eastern-sierra-great-basin/
     
  3. landcrshr

    landcrshr

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    Mengel pass will be challenging for a stockish Tacoma.

    Saline Valley gets crowded Easter Weekend.

    Take it slow, be safe & have fun!
     
  4. Diggs84

    Diggs84

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    Assuming disaster doesn't strike we'll be out of there by Easter weekend. Also btw thanks for helping with a wiring problem I had like 3 years ago. I still remember your avatar!
     
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  5. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew On the way there SILVER Star

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    Cerro Gordo and the Swansee Grade is not smart in March. There has not been much snow this year, but even so, I'd stay lower. That's very exposed at 10,000 feet for much of the way and not easy to turn around. 1 snow drift in a corner and you're backing up 2 miles of shelf road with a 5000 foot outside drop. No fun.

    In a dry year like this one so far, Hunter Mountain might be open (but muddy on top) which means you could head up to South Pass from Panamint, then right turn over Hunter, traverse Hidden Valley and out to the Racetrack, down Lippencott and from there to the Hot Springs.

    Warm springs into Butte Valley should be great, and it's likely you'll get over Mengel Pass no problems. Though high clearance on one or 2 spots is helpful. That Traverse is one of my favorite things there.

    Spending time at the Hot Springs in Saline is great, and for some adventure you can exit out the back way over Steel Pass, Dedeckera Canyon and Eureka Dunes.

    March is a strange time in DV. It can be warm, or cold and raining. or muddy and slippery or all washed out. Just be prepared and don't go where some bad weather can trap you. The park service will often sign the major roads. "Road Closed" means it's open but you're on your own. "Impassable" means stay out- usually a major unsafe washout that is best avoided. They seriously can be 20 feet deep..


    And if you make it to Ballarat, much more fun to go up Pleasant Canyon. There is a whole world up there, where as Jail Canyon is a dead end. But if you go up Pleasant you can explore Pleasant, Middle Park, South Park, and even the scary bridge in South Park Canyon. A challenge for a stock truck but interesting. Great mines, great overlooks and scenery. Basically not to be missed. If there's no snow, there is a short cut from Rita's Cabin up into middle park that is pretty fun. If you make it to the outside rim of middle park there are some serious steeps with great views.
     
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  6. landcrshr

    landcrshr

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  7. SIZZLE

    SIZZLE

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    If your coming in from the east, you should try to hit Titus Canyon. It's a hell of a way to enter the park.
     
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  8. beno

    beno Gihee Arakawa Moderator GOLD Star

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    Aw man... That's no fun! I loved scary bridge because it was sketchy as hell!

    DSC_9380.jpg
     
  9. NorCal97

    NorCal97

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    The bridge to Chicken Rock...good stuff. If you go with non-80 sporting friends, they will make you go last over the bridge, as the posted weight limit is about the same a loaded 80.

    All of the above advice is great, especially with respect to the weather (seen 106º F, and snow, in the same week - gotta love it).

    Take lots of fuel. Last year, Panamint ran out of gas for a day, which made for some interesting conversational dynamics when folks saw all the Jerry cans our group was packing...

    I'll be there with a group the week after you get there. Great time of year to be a desert rat.

    Titus pic:

    20160329_134502.jpg
     
  10. Diggs84

    Diggs84

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    Holy smokes, that looks awesome!
     
  11. surfpig

    surfpig The Anti-Tech

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    I still haven't been there yet.
     
  12. 45Kevin

    45Kevin

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    Second the Titus Canyon route.
    Easy enough for a Subaru at the moment but well worth while vistas and a ghost town as well.
    The first and last +-5 miles are s***e washboard but after that smooth sailing.

    20180210_175523.jpg
     
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  13. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew On the way there SILVER Star

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    Titus (deservedly) gets a lot of tourist traffic. But it's a scenic dirt road. There will be many other people on it including rental cars, Subarus etc. It's suitable for a Prius if you drive carefully. It is 1 way-East to West only.

    Many better things to do in Death Valley though.

    If you have a stocker with you, that will limit you somewhat. But, there is an extremely cool way in from the East if you're up for a bit of route finding and trail work. Gas up in Beatty NV, just like you would if going to Titus. But keep heading toward Amargosa on the main highway. Pick up the Echo Canyon trail out of Amargosa. It will take you up and over the mountains and down Echo Canyon on the other side. Dumps you right out in Furnace Creek. Much better than Titus with a bit of actual 4WD thrown in. There is 1 stairstep that down hill is no big deal. Great places to camp along the way.

    Anyway, then gas up in Furnace Creek, head south and do the traverse up Warm Springs Canyon, into Butte Valley, stop to climb to the top of the Striped Butte (there is sort of a trail starting on the west ridge). Then you can head up Mengel Pass. Now a stocker on the East side of Mengel will be borderline. Just be aware. The west side has a few rocks and drops but should be OK. The west side of Mengel is Goler Wash. Very cool spot, though it can wash out near the turn off to Barker Ranch.

    Once you're down in Panamint Valley you could explore South Park, Middle Park, Pleasant Canyon as you work back to Ballaratt. No gas in Ballaratt though. Nearest gas is Panamint Springs resort-but as someone noted, they sometimes don't have gas, so call ahead.

    Or, you could go up to the other side of Panamint and visit the Defense mine and other trails on that side.

    Then to head back, you could hit Saline Valley road, and if the weather is good, take the right turn at the top of the pass and go over Hunter, then Hidden Valley to the Race Track and down Lippencott Gade back to Saline Valley. If you arn't sure, or there's snow, just stay on Saline Valley road. The hot springs are awesome (clothing optional, be aware). From the Hot Springs you can either take the easy way out North Pass, or the more scenic and much more fun route over Steel Pass. Either one will return you to civilization eventually.

    Towed a Tacoma 60 miles out of Saline last October. I didn't know if the 80 was up to it, but other than some slow going at 8000 feet, it went ok.

    IMG_1978.jpg

    IMG_1975.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
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  14. Dprio34

    Dprio34

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    Drew,
    Nice write up!
    Titus Canyon is a nice scenic mellow drive. Cool Ghost Towns, along the way, Rhyolite and Leadville.
    Both worth a stop.

    Saline Valley definitely worth a stop if you like soaking!

    Were is the turn off to Barker Ranch. I stilll haven’t hit that one yet???
    Too bad some AHoles burnt most of it down a few years back.
     
  15. beno

    beno Gihee Arakawa Moderator GOLD Star

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    Great write-up Andy. Sounds like a trip I've done before.

    :)
     
  16. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew On the way there SILVER Star

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    You've done parts of it, hope you'll come back with the lady. I so love that remote territory with no cell, no distractions, all "Desert Healing" But to hear Desert Healing performed, you need to hang out with @desertdude who is the Paul Simon of the desert.

    Hoping to take longer and longer trips there as the next 15 years unfold. Such open greatness and only 6 hours from home.
     
  17. NorCal97

    NorCal97

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    RE: Barker Ranch

    Normally I don't tell secrets, but this isn't very much of one: Google 35.85935, -117.08865
     
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  18. Dprio34

    Dprio34

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    Thanks!
     
  19. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew On the way there SILVER Star

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    Do not go to Barker Ranch without reading Helter Skelter. Then you understand the significance of the place. It was a bad time and fortunately Charlie Manson is now dead, but a good place to go and see what's left after the fire.

    This is seriously a great book:

    Helter Skelter (book) - Wikipedia
     
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  20. Kofoed

    Kofoed

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    With an aux tank, you should be ok gas-wise. It is cheaper to fill up in Stovepipe Wells if it fits your route (versus Furnance Creek). But passing Panamint Springs resort you should determine if 5 gallons of over $5 gallon gas is worth it (I say yes) to give you some breathing room.
     
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