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Old 04-05-2011, 10:38 AM   #1
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Southern Panamint Range roads?

I'm trying to get as close as possible to Sentinel Peak and am wondering if anyone has driven some of those roads recently? Either Johnson Canyon from the east, or Pleasant Canyon from west? Surprise Canyon seems like it would have been the best, but my understanding is that even when it was open it was not viable in a SMB, but that its now closed anyway. Can anyone confirm that?

Thanks!
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:32 PM   #2
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

Surprise Canyon is hiking only. The hike to Panamint City is well worth it though!
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:35 AM   #3
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

Ahh yes Surprise Canyon. I've got a bunch of pictures of my second van up there next to the smelter stack. Those were the days....
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Old 04-07-2011, 12:13 PM   #4
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

Thank you for the info!

Unfortunately I'm not sure I can make the time for the hike just to see Panamint City...I would love to, but this is for work and need to get into the head of Happy Canyon, and since water will be an issue backpacking in, I'd like to get as close as possible by car.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:22 PM   #5
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

While I wasn't in my van, the day before yesterday I rode my motorcycle from Panamint Springs up Pleasant Canyon to Rogers Pass and back down South Park Canyon.

In Short, you can make it up Pleasant Canyon in your van. The road has seen some recent work and is passable. It gets a bit woody / brushy once you reach the flats at the top of Pleasant Canyon to Rogers pass. The road looks better going to the south towards Middle Park and on to South Park but that's the wrong way for you. There are a couple of nice cabin sites in the top of Pleasant canyon in the trees where you could make a base camp with the van and have the vast majority of the altitude gain taken care of. You'd only need to gain about 2000' and cover 5 or so miles of ridge walking to get to Sentinel Peak from Rogers Pass.

The road over to Porter Mine looked pretty "jeepy" if you know what I mean. Many of the paths in that area are pretty tight for full size rigs. Not necessarily too rugged, but overgrown or heavily cambered. I didn't ride that one so maybe it would go.

While Pleasant is a good drive in of its self, the bottom part of South Park Canyon is even more spectacular. It is a bit more rough, much steeper and has a more stunning entrance. However, the top pitch is limited to vehicles lighter than 6000 lbs due to a sketchy bridge, so you can't loop it to Pleasant in big vans. Very fun on the bike for me and as it was my first trip to the Death Valley area I was blown away at the location of some of the mines and many of the roads that are still in use.

I looped in Saline from the North, saw Eureka Dunes / Steel Pass, Rogers Peak, Lippencot Grade, Racetrack, Gohler, Mengal, Butte Valley, and left via Death Valley Road. My favorite area by far for vistas, interesting roads, mines and cabins and general scenery was the Panamints in the Pleasant/South Park area. I'm sure Sentinal Peak would be more of the same.

Perhaps you could have someone drop you in Pleasant and loop over Sentinal and come out Surprise canyon to be picked up.

Have Fun!
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:31 PM   #6
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

Awesome! Thank you for the info! That will definitely be useful. I'm heading out next week. I'll probably do the up and back in Pleasant Canyon...and I'll be sure to avoid the bridge...definitely over that limit. I'll post some pictures and let you know how it goes.

Thanks again for the info!!

Ryan
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:45 AM   #7
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

Please report back after your trip. I'll be heading that way in a few weeks and would like to get any recommendations / considerations.

Phil
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:53 AM   #8
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Re: Southern Panamint Range roads?

We just ran up Johnson Canyon last week and it's open up to the spring at the end. It's few miles of hiking up to Hungry Bill's Ranch from there. The narrow canyon about a half mile above roads end on the way to the ranch is spectacular.
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