Death Valley/Panamint Valley, Part 2


Kitty litter mine on western side of Panamint Valley. The sign was more interesting than the pile of kitty litter itself:

Reilly ghost town/Anthony Mill. This place was an early “planned community”, complete with nice stone lined sidewalks, solidly made stone foundations on its buildings, etc. Never made much money and was abandoned after a short time:

Nadeau “Shotgun” road. This road pretty much parallels the main road thru Panamint Valley. It was built to be the shortest path across the valley, so its verrryyy straight (mostly):

In spite of really good road engineering, Remi Nadeau seems to have forgotten to put culverts in the overpasses he built across the deep washes and as a result, the next flash flood tends to do this:

which made driving around “interesting” – almost tipped my Jeep on its nose going down the detour around this washout. Which would have sucked immensely since I was out there alone…

The next day, I checked out the Big Four Mine trail which Paul and I missed when we were here back in November. Not much of the mining operation left, but the last couple miles of the trail made it an interesting drive.

Heading over to Death Valley later in the day, I checked out Echo Canyon and the old Inyo Mine.

After the mining operation, I explored further up the trail to find the dry waterfalls (for a future trip – didn’t want go up/down it alone since its a long walk out if something goes wrong). On the way up, I came across this little guy:

A rather annoyed Mohave Rattlesnake… I was driving slowly with the windows down and I heard him very clearly… I thought I was getting a flat tire.

Anyway, found the waterfalls and it looked fun:

The other notable thing along this trail was a small natural arch called Eye of the Needle:

By the weekend, I checked out a few more interesting sites. This is the Minetta Mine in the western hills of Panamint Valley.

Not sure what was up with the noose – a bit creepy…

This place seemed like it could have been the set of The Hills Have Eyes… lots of mine shafts that were wide open. Had to be careful where ya drive/step – one of the angled shafts was collapsed and created a large sinkhole in the middle of the area in front of the other shafts.

The main cabin at the Minetta Mine looked very well maintained. So much so that I didn’t go explore it since I thought someone might be home.

I’ll finish uploading the rest of the pictures to the picture gallery since there are so many others. All in all, a great trip.

Death Valley/Panamint Valley Trip Part 1

Its been a pretty wet spring out here in California and the forecast for the desert wildflowers has been very promising, so in the middle of April, Paul and I loaded up the Jeeps and headed down to Death Valley and Panamint Valley for a few days of camping, off-roading, and general sightseeing. The weather was great most of the time – a little bit of rain/wind the first day we headed down but it cleared up pretty well for the rest of the trip. We made Panamint Springs Resort our base camp. They are in the north end of the Panamint Valley, which is pretty devoid of any services/civilization in general. They have no phone service, electric is provided by a diesel generator that runs 24×7, but they do have Internet access thanks to a satellite uplink and some nice folks who helped them set up some Cisco WiFi gear to provide a connection to the rest of the world.

We met up with our buddy from Cisco, Craig, who drove up from LA for a couple days. Our timing worked out well, as Craig showed up about 20 mins after we arrived in Panamint Springs. We left the pickup/trailer at camp and took both Jeeps over to Death Valley for the afternoon to check out some sights. I figured this trip I’d check out some places I haven’t seen before, in spite of my numerous trips down here. We went up Artists Drive near Furnace Creek – its a really colourful drive along the eastern side. The wind was really ripping thru the valley the whole time we were there which made things interesting for all those folks in their RVs.

Some colorful formations along the road:

A hint of the color starting to bloom in the desert:

The next day we headed over to Beatty NV on the eastern side of Death Valley to see the ghost town of Rhyolite and then drive thru Titus Canyon past the mining town of Leadville. The weather got weird as we approached Nevada – got cold and stormy. We got rain, wind, hail & snow all within a few miles of the border. I’ve driven past Rhyolite many times, but never stopped. Its only a couple miles off the highway outside of Beatty. Its a pretty large ghost town with many remaining structures.

The Bottle House in Rhyolite is a pretty neat place – many old towns in the mining districts around here had a few of ’em.

Just outside of Rhyolite is the former home of an artist who has some ‘odd’ stuff out here. Its all part of the Goldwell Open Air Museum:

We came across this ballsy guy taking his rental RV thru the canyon – he managed to not get stuck, but it was mostly luck on his part that the road had just been cleared the week before.

Down at the mining town of Leadfield, we checked out the mine shaft I explored 20 yrs ago on a trip here with my brother and some friends from Clarkson. The Park Service has been busy putting barriers across all the open mines around the park to keep curious folks out – probably a good plan since most of these mines are really very unsafe:

Further down the canyon, it gets a bit tighter. The scale of the erosion is pretty awesome:

After getting thru Titus Canyon, we still had plenty of the day left so we headed over to another mining town that I’ve never gotten to see before – Chloride City/Chloride Cliffs. It was a somewhat long ride thru the eastern hills of Death Valley but not too challenging (tho we came across some folks in a Subaru Outback that were really struggling with the rocky road. We passed them and never saw them again, so I assume they bailed when they got to a smoother exit from the area. Chloride City is mostly just a few foundations and many mine shafts now. Most of the wooden structures have long collapsed or been dismantled. We finished up with dinner in Furnace Creek and then headed back to camp.

Oddly enough, most of these mining camps don’t have many graves. Most folks who passed away seem to have been taken elsewhere to be buried.

Big spider webs over these mine entrances. Hope no spiders show up 😉

The next morning Craig packed up and headed back to LA. Paul and I grabbed some breakfast and headed down to the Goler Wash road to check out the old Barker Ranch (where Charles Manson was arrested along with the rest of his ‘family’).

The first site up Goler Wash is the remains of the Keystone Mine:

Now this is funky – a swimming pool out here in the middle of this mining camp in the canyon:

Up at Barker Ranch (which was mostly burned down by accident last year), there is a bunch of creepy Manson related stuff in the bunkhouse:

I guess our public skools don’t teach spelling any longer:

On our way back down the canyon, we ran across these folks on their way up. Turns out its the owners of the Myers Ranch which is near the old Barker Ranch. We gave them a hand getting their truck/trailer up this small waterfall and headed on our way.

After getting back to the main road, Paul packed up and headed back to San Jose. I headed back to camp for the rest of the week on my own. More pics in part 2 coming shortly.