Registered: 1319996502 Posts: 40
@Tule, are you talking about Cerro Gordo Rd to White Mt Talc to Lee Flat? If that is the case that road is supposed to be pretty torn up. I'll be up there on Thursday to take a look around since I'll be in the area for several days.
Registered: 1268109302 Posts: 103
Anyone been over West Pass from Keeler?
Registered: 1383418522 Posts: 3
Came in on South Pass on the 28th, "Road Closed" sign at 190. Road is passable by any reasonable off road vehicle but miserable. Bumpy, rocky and hard pack until you reach the valley then cross ruts from drainage and stutter bumps make the road feel like driving 20 miles of speed bumps. It took me 2:40 from pavement to the springs which was uncommonly fast according to the people at the spring who had come in that way, it took me 2 hours on the same road 2 years ago.
On the 29th we left the springs via Steel Pass on motorcycles. As mentioned earlier, the wash is in pretty rough shape. Basically you are following the natural terrain on a lightly marked road with lots of boulders and sand. This was great fun on a motorcycle but probably 2 hours in a 4x4 to the pass. After the pass the road is in good shape to Eureka Dunes (waterfalls same as last few years). We ran into a "Road Closed" sign at Hanging Rock Canyon on the Death Valley Road. We decided to continue, there was no significant road damage over the pass to Crank Shaft Junction. Crank Shaft junction to the Racetrack Valley Road was clear with some minor damage that almost any reasonable vehicle could pass. There was another "Road Closed" at the entrance to the Death Valley Road from the Racetrack Valley Road. The Racetrack Valley Road is unchanged from last year, easily passable with lots of washboard. We dropped back into the valley via Lippincott Pass which was also unchanged from last year which should not be a problem for smaller 4x4's with good ground clearance, say 33's. Last year I drove out Lippincott in my 4 door, long bed, Powerstroke F350 which is basically stock with slightly oversized tires (35's) and it was pretty sporty mainly because of width and wheel base issues. Back to the springs made for about a 145 mile loop. On the 31st I left the springs via North Pass. The road was decent with one boulder field until just before Willow Creek. There is a fairly challenging rocky section just before the ranch. The main problem I had with the aforementioned truck was several 3 point turns as guys in short wheel base vehicles have been burning in the road around washouts. I made it with no dragging, damage or "oh shxt" moments. The road remains rough until just past the Narrows. On the way out I passed 2 graders that had made their way to about half way between the Pinions and the Narrows. They will need more than graders when they hit the Narrows to repair the road but good to see the County out there working the road. I took me 2 hours from the springs to the pavement but I tend to drive faster than manufacturer recommendations. Passed the last "Road Closed" sign at entrance to the Waucoba Saline Road from the Death Valley Road Thanks to all of you who have massaged the road to this point so I could get through in a full size truck full of support gear for riders. Cheers
Registered: 1265088264 Posts: 47
onezeke Jayhawker Joined: 08 Apr 2013 Posts: 5
Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:21 pm Post subject: Racetrack - Lippincott Pass - South Pass Quick report on a trip we took over the past week end. Saturday we drove to the Racetrack past the "barricade" of caution tape. The road was in decent condition. Passed 1 car on the way in. While there we saw roughly 5 other groups come through. On the playa there are several tire tracks of people driving out there. Also there is considerable evidence of multiple small plane landings and take offs. The rocks with tracks were a lot further from where I'd seen them before. All of them were by the base of the hill where they originate. In previous trips I had seen rocks and trails next to the parking area. Sunday morning we headed out via Lippincott Pass. Compared to video and pictures the road seemed to be in poor condition. There were numerous rock slides and wash outs. We were able to do the pass in a full size 2WD truck. It was slow going but doable. The road out of Saline Valley seemed to be in poor shape. It was my first time on the pass but it was pushing the limits of 2WD high clearance. It was really rough. It was beautiful around the springs. It almost seemed like the trees and shrubs had greened since the recent precipitation. Zeke
Registered: 1381687419 Posts: 5
Actually I think what I said about Lippincott was misunderstood or I said it wrong. I have not been over the Lippincott entrance to SV so I can not comment on it. I have recently been through the South Road, the North Road and Steele Pass and can give my $.02 on those roads. I do not know about the Lipppincott entrance to SV. I hope this clears up the confusion. TM
Registered: 1265122403 Posts: 389
He didn't say, "don't do Lippencott", he said he "didn't do Lippencott". That's a completely different message.
From what I've heard, Lippencott Road is unchanged from last year. If you liked it then, you'll like it now!
Registered: 1379909065 Posts: 1
Hey Mrtnphd, Curious why you say not to do Lippincott? I hadn't heard that it was impacted by the storms. Is that just a warning regarding its customary demeanor? Or was it remodeled as well?
Registered: 1381687419 Posts: 5
The weekend of Oct 27 - 28 2013, we took our 4 vehicles to the springs. We went in through the
south road and exited through the north road. We had 2 jeeps, 1 1992 4 Runner and a Ford truck. All were 4 wheel drive. Since I had been through there two weeks earlier on motorcycles, I had no concern about the 4 Runner or Jeeps making it out the north road. I had a bit of concern about the truck since it had stock size street tires that were nearly bald and no lift. But it had no problem. All vehicles made it out the north road with zero body damage. Really no big deal. I would say the south road most any high clearance vehicle can make it either in or out. Really no big deal other than it being slow going. Even once out of the pass and into the valley it was slow going because of the cross grain from water washing across the road. The north road is not difficult but high clearance and 4 X 4 is necessary. If a crew of 8 vehicles were to do a road maintenance trip this is what I would recommend: 1. Do the maintenance on the north road. 2. Coming from Big Pine it is now freshly graded for the first 18 miles. Two weeks ago it was only 10 miles. 3. When the group of 8 vehicles gets to the first washout, about 25 miles from the paved road, 2 vehicles stop and clean up the washout while the other 6 vehicles continue to the next washout. Then leave two vehicles at that washout. 4. Keep leap frogging each other while working on 4 washouts at a time, two vehicles per washout. 5. I would guess each washout should take just a few minutes to fix with rakes and shovels. Rakes would probably be more useful than shovels. 6. With 4 crews working, it should not take too long to do all of the washouts. After you get to the BIG washout there are really only one or two after that that could use some work. So, the bottom line on three entrances (didn't do Lippincott) to the springs is as follows: South Road: No biggie. High clearance necessary and slow going. North Road: No biggie. High clearance and 4 X 4 required and slow going. If a road crew goes through as indicated above, the time getting to the springs should be much faster but 4 X 4 still necessary. Steele Pass: No biggie. However this is the most challenging of the three. It is a 27 mile road from the lower springs to the dunes. Leaving from the springs I would say that the first 4 - 6 miles is VERY slow going. That is because you are picking your way through a boulder wash. A Jeep or older 4 Runner should have no problem other than the very slow going. A fill sized truck might have a problem getting through the tight narrow canyon near the dunes. There were a few more people at the springs than two weeks ago, but still only a fraction of what was there last year at this time. Go for it and have fun, TM
Registered: 1376024630 Posts: 103
Louisville Slugger, "I won't touch that", But maybe with the lack of people at the Springs he was just "Happy to see you".
Registered: 1265122403 Posts: 389
Yep, sounds like a fun time! Maybe I'll pull my teardrop trailer just to make it more challenging!
Sparky of SoCal
Registered: 1293639657 Posts: 79
" It is a mess and unless you have a SWB rock crawler with at least 37's, I doubt you could make it up or down. On a motorcycle it is tough riding but 'do-able.'"Now I have to put this on the list to do before it gets graded.
Registered: 1380381673 Posts: 3
I just got back from a five day dual sport ride in the area with a buddy of mine. We parked in Lone Pine and rode our KTM's up to Cerro Gordo via Keeler. The road is a freeway. We had about an inch of snow a the top, but we didn't see anyone in 'town,' so pushed on down the back side. Now this road is a a totally different story. The road from Cerro to Saline Valley (W side of Nelson range) is completely distroyed from the monsoons. In several places we had to 'trials' ride or even lift our bikes over some of the huge rocks that made their way into the wash. There were trees down and we only saw one other motorcycle track going down the wash. It is a mess and unless you have a SWB rock crawler with at least 37's, I doubt you could make it up or down. On a motorcycle it is tough riding but 'do-able.'
From there we took the western road which eventually hooks up with 190. Only saw a couple of tracks on this road, but a 4wd truck would have no problem. We stayed in Panamint (they have a fantastic beer selection) and headed back to the regular Saline Road (eastern entrance) which is marked closed/ travel at your own risk. The road seemed fine to me. There was some dude with a very, very nice VW Syncro (lifted, 31" tires, Porsche engine) that we passed, but he was keeping up a good pace. I would guess it would take him four hours from Panamint to the hot springs, but again that is just a guess. What all of you guys call the 'south road' is in pretty good shape. A 2wd truck with a decent driver could make it as long as he dodged the rocky spots and keep up speed and/or aired down in the sandy parts. There were a few 'gotcha's' for motorcycles on the very fast section heading into the salt works and on the road to the hot springs. None of these are an issue in a Jeep due to the lower speeds, but we going 40-50 mph and some of the water made some big, cross-grain holes. Fortunately no issues for us. This was my first time to the springs and I thought they were really nice. All of the jacuzzi pools were VERY clean and everything looked good. My buddy decided strip down to his riding shorts and enjoy a soak. But the minute he did, some huge naked guy with a 'Willy Johnson' the size of a Louisville Slugger, decided join him in the tub and sit uncomfortabley close. My buddy used to play football for UCLA so he has been in his fair share of locker rooms, but this oddity was too much for him and he cut his soak short. I laughed until tears came to my eyes and of course I am so imature, that I teased him relentlessley for the next three days about his 'trist in the hot tub with his new boy friend.' Haha From the springs, we back-tracked and got back on what you guys call the north road. All in all it is no problem for a motorcycle. There are three big wash outs that you have to pick your way around but they are not hard. You do have to be careful of hitting square edge dips at speed that are everywhere in this massive alluvial fan. It is incredible how much water went through this area. I think a LWB vehicle would struggle or get damaged on the north road. A Jeep, Samuri, 4wd Ranger or Toyota mini pick up would be fine. On the last 8-10 miles before the pavement, they had a couple of graders working on the road and we were the first ones to go through on this fresh road. It took us just under five hours to travel from Panamint Springs to Big Pine including several stops for H20, photos, and side trip to the springs. From Big Pine we headed east to Gold Point via Crankshaft Jct and Tule Canyon. All of the roads are is great shape. We got in early so decided to go visit six old mines, the best being the Stateline mine. Oriential wash had just been graded and it was in great shape, but the sand is very soft. We were lucky enough to see a beautiful black wild horse on a full tilt run on the other side of the valley. If you have never stayed in the Gold Point ghost town, it is quite an experience. It is definately an odd place and it is full of 'characters' but they are friendly and provide a great service (bed and breakfast, steak dinner, full bar, tours, fuel, etc). From there we headed to Beatty via the Hard Luck Mine Castle, Bonnie Clair, Rhyolite, Bull Frog mine, etc. Beatty is...Beatty, but we had fun eatting chili, drinking PBR on tap and watching a football game on a 12" TV at the Happy Burro Saloon. All of the roads from Gold Point to Beatty are in good shape, but the section that runs parallel to the old train grade is REALLY silty. A 2wd would get stuck and there were a couple of places that you could have gone over the bars on a bike if you were not on the gas. I think this might be part of the Vegas to Reno race course. The last day, on our way back to Lone Pine we tried to do Titus Canyon, but is was locked up tight behind a big gate and a long barbed wire fence. Sooo...we turned around and had to endure the slab. We did the Darwin loop then back to Lone Pine. So everything on our ride was 'do-able' except I would not recommend the back side of Cerro Gordo. You just neet to have good information, be patient and have the right vehicle. Although I typically do these trips with only one other person, I do carry a SPOT tracker, have GPS, lots of maps and always have a 'plan B.' There were a lot of confused 'Euros' in and around the park, that were caught up in the DV closure. Sucks for them, that they traveled all that way and couldn't see the popular sights. Anyway, I hope this info is helpful to someone.
Registered: 1319996502 Posts: 40
SPOT is a great tool. I bought one when they first came out becuase I used to go to DV solo and do 125-175 moto loops in a day. Great piece of mind to my sig other and family members in different parts of the state.
Here is the picture "tracking" feature plots of a dual sport ride I led on Sunday out of Lakeport, CA. 150 miles. When you log into the site, you can access updates and blow up the map a lot bigger than this to find actual or last ping'd location
Registered: 1376024630 Posts: 103
The info ExtremeRuby provided is spot on
Registered: 1297866344 Posts: 3
My opinion and my advice... In today's world, there are NO good reasons for NOT taking "tech" with you into the backcountry or when you travel to remote locations SOLO. Your first and BEST way to travel into Saline Valley and hot springs is with at least one other vehicle. If you do travel into Saline Valley solo, read the previous post like a good one. I do venture into Saline solo, but I have a SPOT and a DeLorme inReach SE - two of the finest "personal locator beacons" (PLBs) on the market. Each use satellite communication to notify friends and family if you are "OK," "Need Help" (broken down, but physically fine), or "SOS" (you are physically NOT okay). These devices send via email or instant message to people you select, your message and GPS location that pin-points you on Google Maps or special maps. It I pushed "need help" in Saline Vally my friends would "see" my location and contact the nearest tow service (Miller's Towing in Lone Pine), and give him the location via email. If I pushed SOS, that message would go straight to the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Houston, TX. They then contact local SAR - public or private - to reach me in a hurry. Average SPOT response time is less than 60 min to person in need. I also purchase the $100K SAR insurance through SPOT to cover any recovery/helo expenses. Cost for the insurance - about $17/year. See more information at: http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=104. Oh, one more thing... I always carry with me a very robust and well-stocked wilderness first aid kit. LUCK FAVORS THE PREPARED.