January 2016 Death Valley Road Tour
January 2016 Death Valley road tour.
January 19 (Tues) to January 23 (Sat)
4 nights at Motels and 5 days of explorations
1. Sam & Jan Smith, 2009 Ford F-150 4x4 pickup.
2. Chris & Gail Dvorak
3. Ken & Susie Hodson
4. Bain & Arlene Swapp
5. John & Lorraine Scribner
6. Tony & Linda Wright
7. Price and Connie Nelson
Overview: We had a great road trip the weather was great for the time of year, and we collectively decided times for dining and places to go. The itinerary was basically followed and worked well. It seemed that everyone agreed to be flexible and were capable of making changes when suggested or needed. Freeway speeds were about 70 mph, US highways 65 mph, and back paved scenic byways 40-50 mph. Dirt roads 20-35 mph. WE had the Club radios and Spot GPS Tracker as well as a Garmin GPS. The radios were found to be difficult to use if anyone was not close. Everyone did the entire trip and believe had a great time.
Tuesday January 19, 2016
7:00 AM Depart Kanab: Meeting at Honey’s.
We picked up Price and Connie in Apple Valley and met John and Lorraine in St George at the Black Bear restaurant where we all ate a hardy breakfast.
10:30 AM On to Mesquite the seven vehicle’s traveled on I-15 to the Overton exit. We continued on through Overton to our first stop.
11:00 AM to 12:15 PM Lost City Museum, Overton. (We are now in the pacific time zone).
The Lost City Museum was built in 1935 by the National Park Service to exhibit artifacts that were being excavated from Pueblo Grande de Nevada. These Anasazi Indian sites were being threatened by the waters of Lake Mead as it backed up behind the newly built Hoover Dam. Eventually, when the lake was filled to capacity, about five miles of sites had been inundated or undercut by the water.
The Civilian Conservation Corps assisted in the excavation of the sites and the construction of the museum building. The building was constructed of sun-dried adobe brick in a pueblo- revival style. The museum also served as the park headquarters for the Boulder Dam State Park that was established at Lake Mead.
The museum is currently owned and maintained by the State of Nevada as one of its six state museums. Programs include ongoing archaeological research on the remaining Lost City sites, school tours and outreach programs, changing exhibits and archival library and collections research capabilities. Special public programs are held throughout the year. We had a very enjoyable visit, the museum which is struggling with changing all of the designations using the word ‘Anasazi’ all because of some wiz-bang Ivy League professor who wants to be politically correct. Go figure.
12:30 PM to 3:30 PM Valley of Fire (In and out from the North Shore road).
Nevada's first state park, Valley of Fire. Named for its flaming red-rock spires, the park is also home to other spectacular rock formations. While it's best to set aside a full day for exploring the park, a road-trip tour can be completed in three or four hours. Often used for filming car commercials, Valley of Fire is one of the most photogenic areas in the West. It's impossible to take a bad picture here, but for truly spectacular images, time your trip so that you're in the valley at dawn or sunset. For excellent photos in late afternoon, drive out the short gravel road to Fire Canyon/Silica Dome. Early morning is a great time to grab awesome "road shots" from the road. We attempted to explore the entire park and took in most of the petroglyph panels. A stop at the visitor’s center then on to the Mouse Tank trail petroglyphs followed by a belated lunch at a picnic site we continued the tour. Then return the way we came. It costs $10.00 per vehicle to enter the Park on the honor system.
3:45 PM to 4:30 PM North Shore Road, Lake Mead Nat. Recreation area.
Back on the Northshore Road we stop at Rogers Springs a Warm Springs pool just off the North Shore road. A light rain was falling as we visited some local folks there. Soon we are on our way as the rain showers come and go. The road west leads us through areas of brilliant red boulders and rock formations in between Echo Bay and Callville Bay. It was now in the early evening hours as we pass the beautiful Redstone Picnic Area and Dune Trail. We soon reach the Lake Mead intersection, left turn to Boulder City. Continuing on the north side of Lake Mead, the receding waters leaving a bathtub ring of white showing how low the lake level is. Arriving at US 93 we soon reach our Boulder City Quality Inn motel destination and are soon jockeying for position in line to check-in.
6:30 PM Dinner: After check-in we drive to the Southwest Diner, 761 Nevada Highway, (702) 293-1537 where we surprised the receptionist with requested seating for 14. Dinner was had and some liked the food fare, other maybe not, but it did the job for me and I was happy. All back to the Motel for some R&R for the night.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
7:30 AM Meet at Quality Inn Parking lot after a very good in-house breakfast. We head out to drive over the O’Callaghan/Tillman Memorial Bridge. Link: https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/construction-and-building/hoover-dam-bridge-top-10-facts Going over the bridge and viewing Boulder Dam to the east, however, your view of the river is obstructed by a cement wall on the bridge. Nothing like the Glen Canyon bridge at Page, AZ. Turning around we go back into Nevada, through Boulder City to the turnoff to Searchlight, heading S/B we reach our turnoff for El Dorado Canyon about 9:00 AM. Beautiful Eldorado Canyon lures visitors seeking unique outdoor experiences. It’s somewhat lurid past ads Old West flavor to such activities as touring the area’s oldest mine, backcountry, exploring the Colorado River's coves. The area also attracts anybody looking for a satisfying short scenic drive.
Eldorado Canyon lies off U.S. Highway 95 south of Railroad Pass. Head south on U.S. 95 and drive 10 miles to the junction with Nevada Route 165. This road climbs 11 miles to a 3,000-foot pass near old Nelson, where weathered remnants of buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s mingle with modern residences. The highway then drops into the colorful canyon named for the fabled city of gold that Spanish explorers sought for centuries. The highway follows a major wash with unusual eroded rock monoliths as it winds seven miles to a viewpoint overlooking the Colorado River where Nelson's Landing once served the sturdy little steamboats that plied the river. For some 40 years, steamboats putting in at Nelson's Landing provided a lifeline for the remote mining camp and surrounding mines before there were highways and long before dams harnessed the river's flow. Hikers, horseback riders and off-roaders use the area's old mine roads to explore the hills and river coves.
The highlight of Eldorado Canyon is definably Nevada's oldest mine, the Techatticup. Long before American acquisition of the desert southwest, native people and early Spanish explorers dug for prized minerals in Eldorado Canyon. When American explorers reached the area, prospectors soon followed. By the 1860s, promising claims drew miners to the canyon. Soon the Techatticup and other nearby mines employed about 300 men in unruly camps far from the reach of the law. Order had to be kept by federal troops, who came up the river from Fort Mohave in Arizona Territory and deployed for a while at their own camp. The mine tunnels remain at about 70 degrees all year. The group thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this old site, full of antique everything you can imagine, old cars, and stuff and more stuff. The proprietor is an admitted hoarder of stuff. He actually has his own squadron of mothballed junked fighter planes. This is worth the visit and drive there.
*Please note in the Photo Album Jan’s eerie photo of the grumpy Aliens in the bedroom.
We continued to the once Nelson’s Landing a marina on Lake Mohave now gone with only the sprits remaining.
Sam’s Note: Flash Flood: On Saturday, September 14, 1974 - at Nelson's Landing, a popular weekend fishing resort about 50 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was washed away, 12 feet of water caused by torrential rains sweeps through Eldorado canyon, sweeping everything in its path into Lake Mohave, including the resort, restaurant, several cars and 20 residences. According to eyewitnesses, there was maybe five seconds of warning. Ten people are known killed by this disaster. After photos we are off moving on and returning to US 95 to Searchlight.
Searchlight received its name when George Frederick Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897, he supposedly said that it would take a searchlight to find gold ore there. Shortly thereafter he found gold, leading to a boom era when Searchlight had a larger population than Las Vegas. At the time, it was in Lincoln County, Nevada. As talk surfaced for carving Clark County, Nevada out of Lincoln County, Searchlight was initially considered to be the county seat. Between 1907 and 1910 the gold mines produced $7 million in gold and other precious minerals, and the town had a population of about 1,500.
We turn onto the Nipton Highway, NV SR 168 from US 95 in Searchlight traveling over the McCulloch Mtn. Range to I-15 entering just below Mountain Pass. Entering I-15 N/B we observe seeing the new solar powered steam boilers making electricity there in the dry lake bed, how odd they appear, through Primm to Jean. Exiting to the Goodsprings town site stopping for lunch at the Historic Pioneer Saloon.
Goodsprings was a settlement in the hills seven miles west of Jean. It served as an important town for milling ore from the surrounding mines. This ore would then be transported by wagon to Jean where it was loaded on trains. Today only a few landmarks are left. See Nevada Ghosttowns.com. The town was named after a Mr. Joseph Good who headquartered his cattle raising operation there. At first the site was known as Good's Springs but eventually was called Goodsprings. It was a mining camp with a hotel, a saloon that is still standing and in operation, and a general store. The end of World War I also saw the end of Goodsprings as a mining town. But there are still landmarks of the town to satisfy the ghosttowner. But, by far the highlight is the Pioneer Saloon, an old rustic joint, with lots of history. Bullet holes in the wall where some miner was killed in around 1903. The Saloon was the headquarters for the 1943 search for the remains of the occupants of a B17 crash on Potosí Mountain. Clark Gable was there to be told his wife Carol Lombard had died in the crash. The Saloon is a destination of Las Vegas bikers and people wanting to get away. We all enjoyed a big old hamburger there, and a few of us a cold beer.
Sam leads the group into Sandy Valley had to make a turnaround, onto dirt roads looking for the back road to Pahrump he was determined to stay away from Las Vegas and get to Pahrump via the back dirt roads, and he finds the way just as some in the group was wondering where we were and if we would survive. We find the State highway and continue to Pahrump, much in the need to wet our whistle, we check in at the Best Western Pahrump Oasis for the second and third night.
6:30 PM Dinner: Mom’s Family Diner 1240 State St #100, Pahrump, NV 89048 (775) 751-9929 is the place, not only did they seat 14 hungry senior delinquents they did it with a personality. We soon are served sumptuous dinners to everyone’s liking and we have found our place. After dinner we retire to our nice and reasonable motel rooms so to check in with our kids so they don’t put out an APB on us.
Thursdays January 21, 2016
7:30 AM Meet at the Best Western Pahrump Oasis Parking lot after breakfast. The Motel breakfast was exceptional and all were fed well.
Road tour of Death Valley from Pahrump (Tentative schedule)
From Shoshone, CA
to CA SR 178, Salsberry Pass (3315’), Jubilee Pass(1290’)
to Badwater Basin, (-282’)
to Devils Golf Course
to Natural Bridge
to Golden Canyon
to Artists Palette
to Furnace Creek Visitors Center
to Salt Creek
to Devils Cornfield
to Mesquite Flat Dunes
to backtrack to Furnace Creek
to Zabriskie Point
to Twenty Mule Team Canyon
to Dantes View
to Death Valley Jct.
to Devils Hole, Ash Meadows, Nevada
to Back route to Pahrump
Details: Throw that plan out the window. First the Badwater Road is closed due to washouts. So our vehicle tour is in reverse. We are starting at Furnace Creek, that is also where the resorts are, where you’ll find a small museum mainly about borax, a general store, restaurants, and a saloon. The general store sells postcards and souvenirs (some of which you might find at the park visitor center for less). The visitor center was just reopened after being redesigned with updated exhibits, so I can't tell you exactly what you'll see. But you'll learn more about the other sights you'll be visiting. This is also where you can pay your park entrance fee if you did not do so earlier at one of the automated kiosks (all of us have an annual Federal outdoor recreation passes).
After the visitors center we are off to the Sand Dunes and Stovepipe Wells 20-25 minutes north of Furnace Creek, on Hwy 190. Our first stop is Mosaic Canyon which is a showcase of geologic features as well as a beautiful example of one of Death Valley’s many canyons. Located 1/4 mile west of Stovepipe Wells Village, the 2-mile gravel access road climbs 1000 ft. to the parking area. From here a not so easy 1/4 mile walk leads into the canyon narrows, where the surrounding rock walls are composed of smooth, water-polished marble. Back to Stovepipe Wells for a break and overly expensive bad ice cream cone. We backtrack stopping at small warm creek full of valuable Pup Fish in the minds of some. It’s death if you harm one, and they are watching you. (But that was taken care of). Then on to the Borax Mining operation for a short stroll and looksee. Back to Furnace Creek for lunch, and for those who could afford the price they could buy a lunch. The food was inflated like the gas in Kanab.
On we go and take CA SR 178 the Badwater Road to Badwater Basin. The southern part of Badwater Road is scenic, but it’s more about long-range vistas and sweeping views of the mountains than specific natural marvels. Continuing on we will see Devil’s Golf Course, then to Badwater Basin, a certain tourist site, minus 282 feet below sea level. Now as it is getting late we back track again up to Artist’s Drive, and Golden Canyon. Much of the rock in Golden Canyon (like Zabriskie Point and 20 Mule Team Canyon) is clay and sandstone. All these sights are in the final 17 miles below Furance Creek on the Badwater Road are very picturesque.
After this we return to Furnace Creek staying turning on CA SR 190. Southbound we bypass Zabriskie Point then next is Twenty Mule Team Canyon: (Closed). As we continue south we’ll look for Dante's view which is where the munity on the desert occurs. Due to the fading light, and the worry of not being there when the bed buzzer goes off some abandoned the leader and headed home through the isolated Mojave Desert on their own. There must have been a failure to communicate on the leader’s part so some of us were left there in disarray and scratching our behinds. As darkness falls we continuing S/B to pass through Death Valley Junction. Too late to visit it was getting dark. Taking a back road in the darkness we go past Devils Hole and Ash Meadows. This will take us on roads and via the back way back into Pahrump. How did we make it, oh the thought of going back to Mom’s Diner; must have done it.
6:30 PM Dinner: Mom’s Family Diner for another fine dinner, we all made it just fine, afterall, some were hungered more than others I guess.
Friday January 22, 2016
7:30 AM Meet at the Best Western Pahrump Oasis Parking lot after another fine breakfast. Departing Pahrump to US 95 and southbound passing the Mercury, test site entrance, once the sight of the Anti-Nuke protesters, hippies and weirdo’s. Now just an empty spot being reclaimed by the desert. On we go to Indian Springs, home of the USAF Drones, where we stop for some to get gas as we all get to watch the USAF Drones doing stop and go landings at Creech AFB. We continuing S/B below Mt. Charleston to the west reaching the Corn Creek, Desert Wildlife Refuge. They have built a new visitors center, and it is as beautifully done as only a government official could appreciate. The bad part it was closed for some reason. The leader says we will summit this rough, rocky Mormon Wells road and over the pass to US 93 at the Coyote Springs turnoff to Glendale. Slowly we proceed, climbing as the desert fauna changes and rocks in the rood get larger. Into the Joshua Tree forest climbing, Rock Monoliths, and now Juniper trees appear here in the Desert National Wildlife preserve. We see no Desert Bighorn Sheep; this is their home after all. Into the Pinons and now snow and mud turning to frozen snow we summit at the Mormon Wells Picnic site, covered in a good 12 inches of snow. Dropping off now and beginning a descent, one truck could not make a slick hill, John Scribner comes to the rescue and pulls him up. Finally, out of the snow we reach a wash for our lunch break. There were no complaints regarding our 4X4 adventure except perhaps for the 2-wheel drive truck. After lunch and now to the lower reaches of the Sheep Mtn. eastern slopes we stop at a Barrel Cactus garden, where hundreds of cactus are growing of every size. We reach US 93 turning north going to Kane Springs road. The Kane Springs Road is usually in very good condition. The drive down Kane Springs Road is quite enjoyable, at least if the traveler enjoys driving through completely empty and isolated countryside. This is a mad dash across the Southern Nevada desert towards Elgin. Dropping of the playa into the old valley, which Jedediah S. Smite the first white explorer came through Nevada in 1827. Continuing on to the Union Pacific RR site at Elgin, Nevada within the Meadow Valley Wash we eventually reach pavement as we continue N/B through Rainbow canyon.
The Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive follows Nevada State Highway 317 for its entire length, from the ghost town of Elgin. As such, the traveler wishing to avoid the rather boring and sometimes busy drive on US Highway 93 between Las Vegas and Caliente can use the Kane Springs Road to reach Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive (and follow it north to Caliente, linking back up with US Highway 93) and have a more enjoyable ride, too.
Traffic on the Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive is exceedingly light. What little traffic is found on the road are usually local ranchers and those who might be heading out into the Clover Mountains. The traveler should be aware that during periods of heavy rain, the road might pose problems for low-clearance vehicles where the road crosses various washes (riverbeds that are usually dry or just a trickle of water but fill up with gushing water during periods of heavy rain). At these river crossings, the road dips down and crosses the wash with a cement roadbed. However, if the water is deep due to heavy rain, it is possible for a low-clearance vehicle to stall out at one of these crossings. Some of our group enjoy watching a Union Pacific Freight trail going through tunnels along the railroad tracks.
We arrive in Caliente, Nevada as night falls. Most of us check into the Midway Motel, an old motel with clean room, John and Lorraine find another motel which they report was very nice.
6:30 PM Dinner: Brandin’ Iron 185 Clover St, Caliente, NV 89008 (775) 726-3164 across the railroad tracks.
We again all gather, and enjoy a small town dinner at a very unique place.
Saturday Jaunary 23, 2016
8:00 AM Meet at the Brandin’ Iron for breakfast, after a great breakfast, more than some could eat, we stop at the historic Caliente Railroad station for a visit and pictures. Caliente was once and still is in a smaller degree a railroad terminal with tracks going right through the town. Now everyone is all gas up we are on our way out of Caliente. Up US 93 to the Panaca Junction and turning towards home via Panaca summit to, Beryl Jct. to Enterprise Jct., Veyo and on to St George and back to Kanab. This should take 4 to 5 hours depending on selecting a farewell luncheon mutually agreed upon. (Cancelled) It was snowy on the Panaca summit and too muddy to try to take the Enterprise cut-off. At this point a stop at a snow covered rest stop was the clincher, much like that barn sour old gray mare, the urge to get back to the barn was over whelming, and some of the flock begin to head for the barn, the idea of the farewell dinner was dispelled. Most of the group made it as far as Veyo and the pie shop. This was our last stop where many bought some of those Veyo homemade pies to take home. And with that everyone put the hammer down for their return to home via, the route convenient for their needs and plans.
All in all it was a wonderful, warm, and entertaining Road Trip, hopefully enjoyed by all.
Day one: January 19, Tuesday meet at 7:00 AM Honeys Parking lot
Quality Inn Boulder City: Telephone: 1 855 809-3506 or Local: 702 293-6444
Day Two and Three: January 20th and 21st.
Best Western Pahrump Oasis 1 866-559 6674 Local 775 727-5100
I used Expedia and booked a room for 2 nights at $79. Plus, tax. Complimentary continental breakfast, mine was upgraded.
Rooms are available for $70.
Day four: January 22 Caliente, NV one night
Midway Motel: Telephone: 1 775 726-3199 $59.00 including Taxes.