I called Jeff (760 938 2307) of the Inyo County Road Department today, November 13, 2013, to inquire about the condition of the road through the north pass. He is in charge of road maintenance in this part of the County.
Jeff said that graders are working the road through the North Pass and that the first 20 miles are "perfect". That should get you beyond Whipoorwill Canyon.
I got the impression that there is more than one grader but I did not get the exact number. That leaves 15 miles to get to the turn off on Bat Rock Road, according to my odometer. (From the paved Death Valley Road, 35 miles to the Bat Rock Road turnoff.)
Jeff said that the graders can cover about one to two miles per day. Assuming 1.5 miles per day, it will take them 10 days to get to the Bat Rock Road turnoff. That would have them finishing the road on 11/27/13, the day before Thanksgiving.
Jeff noted that the graders cannot deal with major washouts. The County has approved the rental of a D7 bulldozer, which is supposed to arrive on 11/19. The strategy will be to deploy the bulldozer to pioneer a road through the major washouts and reinstall the washed out culvert at Willow Creek (see below), while the graders continue to work the road.
Jeff says there is a major washout just before David Rogers' Willow Creek Ranch. It took out a culvert. Some people are swinging off to the right (west), following an old bulldozer ramp, skirting past the fence of the Willow Creek Ranch and getting back to the road.
There is another major washout just beyond the Willow Creek Ranch.
Jeff said that the field crews have reported that people are getting through the North Pass Road but I did not get any information on what type of vehicle was necessary to get through. (I have a Subaru wagon).
Jeff said that the road through the South Pass is officially closed but that even though it is extremely rough, people are getting through.
Jeff thinks that a lot of the debris that was washed out, along with the road, was deposited on the Bat Rock Road. I think several people have reported that the Bat Rock Road is in bad condition, but I have not seen anyone say that it is impassable.
Jeff said that Steele Pass is passable for small (Jeep?) vehicles.
Jeff emphasized that he and Inyo County cannot guarantee that the road will be open by Thanksgiving. Use the information above at your own risk. (And shoot any attorney who offers to help you file a law suit against the County.)
Anyway, things are looking up. I hope to be there Saturday evening, 11/23/13.
Come around for a glass of wine and/or to sing/play a broken hearted and blood curdling bluegrass song with me.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, heartfelt appreciation to the Inyo County Road Department, and warmest regards to all who visit Saline Valley, the nation's best national park.
The Wine Guy.