Saline Preservation Association

The voice of Saline Valley

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Posts: 65
A woman made it out North Pass early January in a Yaris with chains.


Posts: 3
I was in and out of the Saline via the north pass in early January. The snow required chains for sure. I also had a very high clearance vehicle, a full size van (albeit 2WD). Unless the north pass has been completely graded since early January, my sense is that there is zero chance of a low slung vehicle making it successfully without extensive undercarriage damage. Very high clearance seems like a requirement these days on that pass. I saw nothing but trucks and large, good clearance vehicles out there in January. I remember thinking that the days of the Camry (and similar) in the Saline are over. I used to see regular or low clearance cars there---no more. That's a high clearance road now if there ever was one. I heard the story of one vehicle being towed out trying to get in via the north pass in January, something about a torn transmission line of an average clearance SUV. It is really rocky. There is a need for a second (third?) spare and sat phone for anyone risking it with any type of regular passenger vehicle with rather low clearance.
Salt Peter

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Posts: 609
North pass was fine two weeks ago with little snow on the actual road. There was snow on the hillsides at the higher altitudes but it isn't like a massive snow drift will swallow the road. If you're comfortable driving the Caliber into such a remote area with your family then that is your call.

Posts: 6
The problem with North Pass is the potential for snow, and icy/muddy conditions, at the higher elevations. Just south of the pass is especially bad, the road is sheltered from the sun and often gets snow drifts that last long after the storm.
Here is the NOAA forecast for that area:
You don't want to be digging out of freezing mud on a 15deg F evening, especially with a young kiddo aboard. That said, if the weather holds, you can likely make it down the N. Pass route with caution, the road has been in good shape recently.
Hello - I'm looking to visit Saline Valley and the hot springs with my wife and daughter (she's six months) this weekend - Thursday to Sunday, Feb 7-10.  We're coming from the Bay Area via Bishop and planning to take the North pass.  We have a 2WD Dodge Caliber.  We'll bring a spare, snow chains, fix-a-flat, jack, and tire iron, plus plenty of food, water and clothes.  We're comfortable in the back country and on dirt roads.  Does anyone have any recent information on road conditions, in particular the north pass?  Thanks to all for the information in this forum.  It is a real gold mine for first time visitors.


Posts: 30
ARGH!! I could only stomach 3 minutes of that 49 minute video. Watching 49 minutes of bad road seems about half as bad as actually driving it (without the rewarding soak at the end  that makes the drive worth suffering). It looked nice and could be useful to someone who has the discipline to research before starting the trip into the springs. I suspect such a person would already be prepared (equipment wise) anyway.

I've never invested in the "right" equipment. Thus far I have successfully compensated by carrying: extra fuel; two spares on rims; two spares not on rims; both standard and metric tools boxes; wire; multimeter; repair manual. I believe the best advice I have heard is "No one ever broke down because they drove too slowly on a rough road".

The only exception to this that I have ever experienced was the time I was on a mountain road the consisted of dry pavement, snow covered pavement, and snow covered dirt/muddy road. I went downhill a snow covered section of dirt/mud only to discover that continuing was unwise. I was able to turn around but when I tried to go uphill through the snow I did not have enough traction to make it up the hill. I backed up as far as I could to a spot where I had traction and got a running start. Luckily it was a straight shot. My tires spun (ALOT!) but I was able to keep moving forward and made it through that spot. I was very lucky and learned from the experience. The trouble is with some experiences one does not survive.

Good planning and preparation is always required. I recommend one try to generalize a carpenter's axiom. "Measure twice cut once". Review and examine options several times before taking action.
paul belanger

Posts: 257
there is a recent video, it's a nice go pro version, seek it out
The Squirrel

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Posts: 18
I'm looking at a trip in North Pass and out South Pass... is the road so bad that this wouldn't be fun, or does it just take some concentration in places to get through?

That depends on the driver and vehicle.

I like rocks with no snow so South Pass was great for me. 2 hours in/2 hours out. (3" lift 32" BFG A/T tires)

I'm guessing North Pass requires less concentration and is more forgiving on the vehicle but as always everything is subject to change.

One of these days someone should post a recent video of the South Pass so one could judge these conditions for themself.

Posts: 1
I'm looking at a trip in North Pass and out South Pass... is the road so bad that this wouldn't be fun, or does it just take some concentration in places to get through?

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Posts: 204
Squirrel,  Nice job on the Go Pro.  I thought you guys were going No. Pass both ways.  I guess you sucummbed to the temptation of South.
Without uncertainty there is no adventure.
The Squirrel

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Posts: 18
Sexy Pepper ... I mean Sgt. Pepper pretty much summed it up...
lots and lots and lots of rocks on south pass.

The Drifter

Posts: 52
Southpass is ugly but doable. I would recommend 4wd - high clearance. At bottom of canyon, some major washouts one must navigate (six of them). Many folks sustain damage when rear of car hit rocks. Some ice on road. Also, if travelling at night, take this road slow. Some undercuts along the road and are very hard to spot and you could have a tire fall in. If you decide to come this route, I highly recommend you air down and take it easy.  At the springs, I heard of many cars being damage.  I brought in a military 6x6 truck and I can tell you this truck felt it too... sustain some battery damage when a terminal came loose.   The valley floor road is also not in the best shape either.  Some minor wash outs and debris fields that will eat up cheap tires... something to think about.  Summary on this pass: doing it during the day, high clearance 4 wheel drive, and have good tires!
NorthPass is the route to go. Lots of snow and some minor washouts in Saline Valley. Snow is not deep, and packed down for ease of driving. I would recommend a 4wd here. High clearance not mandatory, but highly recommended. 

Peace out... Sgt. Pepper
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