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Old 11-20-2009, 06:59 AM   #1
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Nevada desert and Death Valley NP trip

Just got back from our annual trip to Saline Valley in Death Valley National Monument. We left Fruita on Nov 3rd and got back the afternoon of the 17th. Our goal on the way to Saline Valley was to take the scenic route and take our time so to speak.

The first day we headed out around 2pm and our goal was to make it to Crystal Peak, Utah for the night.We turned off of the highway and hit the dirt headed for Crystal Peak well after dark. The nice thing was it was close to full moon so the terrain was fairly visible. Eventually the spooky outline of Crystal Peak appeared on the skyline. We found a spot next to the mountain and popped the top for some zzzz's. When we awoke in the morning were were very impressed with this mountain that differs so much from its surroundings. It's surface is also carved with countless small caves.





After spending the morning climbing around we headed west on more dirt, and would continue to make all of our westward progress on dirt roads for the next 240 miles! We traveled through the valleys and up into the "islands in the sky". It is impressive to travel through the barren desert for miles and the climb up into the mountains and find lush streams big trees etc. Quite the contrast.



Cherry Creek, NV area:



We eventually hit the highway again not to far from Tonapah, NV. We fueled up one last time before we headed into the Death Valley area. The 2nd night we decided to opt for camping in the Mesquite Springs Campground in DV because we wanted to tour Scotty's Castle in the morning. After countless times going through here, we never had stopped for a tour, so we gave it a go. The tour is worth the stop for sure. Incredible attention to detail and craftsmanship in the castle.



After our tour we ate lunch at the nearby Ubahebee Crater and continued to the 27 miles of hellish washboard road to Racetrack Valley.

The obligatory Teakettle Junction photo stop:



More to come...gotta go to work
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:31 AM   #2
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NM trip

love to see a map of that 240 mile dirt road(s). It dosen't matter what the scenery is, a 240 mile ride away from the normal traffic is something I would like to do.
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:01 AM   #3
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NM trip

Sounds like a dream trip for desert lovers like us! Any pics of Saline Valley?

BTW, Death Valley has been a National Park for a long time now.
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Old 11-20-2009, 11:32 AM   #4
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NM trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
Just got back from our annual trip to Saline Valley in Death Valley National Monument.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey
BTW, Death Valley has been a National Park for a long time now.
Not if you enter the park the back way via Ubehebe Rd...



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Old 11-20-2009, 07:10 PM   #5
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NM trip

Yep, I always forget that it's a NP now. I used to go to Saline Valley before it was included in the NP..sheesh i'm getting old.

Onward,
I had wanted to do a hike near Racetrack into Corridor Canyon but it was very windy at the time. We had initially planned on camping south of Racetrack but we got the itch to continue to Saline Valley. The lure of soaking in the springs with a nice beverage was overwhelming. The route down to Saline Valley is the Lipincott Rd and is a 4x4 only road. I have been up and down this road numerous times in the past but never with such a big, heavy rig. It was helpful to have some info from Adventureduo as he had been down Lipincott a few weeks earlier.
With the Atlas case in 4lo we crawled down the trail. The road was pretty chewed up as normal and had two very narrow spots as well as a pretty tippy spot. My wife had to get out and spot me on one washed out narrow corner but other than that it wasn't too bad. I'd even do it again in the SMB!
The top of Lipincott Rd.:


Dropping down:




The second narrow spot ( the first one was much tighter than this):


We made it without incident to the Saline Valley Rd. and continued on to the springs. The evening was very windy (no suprise). So we made dinner in the van, went and soaked and called it a night. The next morning was calm and clear, beautiful!



For this trip we had 7 more friends and family join us a few days into the trip. Our camp grew dramatically with more tables, ice chests and food boxes!


Later in the week my friend Michael and I hiked up a nearby canyon that has been intriguing me over the years. We gave it a go and were astounded at the scenery! The canyon walls, rock strata, and terrain above was incredible! The hike involved some scrambling and climbing but was pretty fun. We eventually reached a dryfall that we deemed unsafe to descend back down without rope protection. We both concluded that we would be back next year with ropes and gear to continue up canyon.
Looking up towards the canyon from the Steel Pass Rd.

Looking back down from the first scramble.

We even found an arch!(pretty rare around here) This one is probably 20+ ft high:








We stayed at the springs for 9 days and had a great time with our friends and family from 3 states! We were sad to leave but we will be back soon enough.


Before we made our way too far back home we stopped at Benton Hot Springs for the night to get some more soaking in!
Our campsite:


We spent one more night with my parents at Great Basin Nat'l Park in Nevada. This is our usual stopping point on the way back.
We had a great trip and it was the first Saline trip for the SMB. The van performed great and was very comfy. The shelter it provides when the weather get bad is awesome! It's great to hide inside and watch a movie when the wind is blowing like crazy outside!
As always we also met some great people ( even some fellow SMB'ers) , Dennis and Dorothy with their custom SMB from Santa Barbara! There was also a gentleman out there that had a solid axle conversion 4x4 Sprinter SMB.
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:59 AM   #6
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NP trip

A couple more for good measure:


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Old 11-21-2009, 10:19 AM   #7
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NM trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
love to see a map of that 240 mile dirt road(s). It dosen't matter what the scenery is, a 240 mile ride away from the normal traffic is something I would like to do.
I'd be happy to do this, anyone know how I can post a map of the route? Google earth/maps?
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:37 AM   #8
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NP trip

Nice pics...I would love to see a map of your route through DV. We are on the road now and will be heading through DV in just a couple of days after we hang out with some family in Reno then south on 395...I have been in the areas all around DV but never to the park. Saline Hot Springs was definitely on the top of the list as was Scotty's Castle. Were the hot springs crowded? Any other recommendations....Thanks for posting the pics and I look forward to seeing a map of you route.

Also, what map do you recommend?

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Old 11-22-2009, 05:23 PM   #9
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NP trip

Veg,
I believe the map we have is Harrison's Death Valley National Park Recreation Map. The springs were not crowded at all during our time there. There is a lot of camping in the area and you don't have to be right next to anyone either. It will be busier as it gets closer to Thanksgiving and again during Presidents Day in Feb.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:26 PM   #10
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Re: Nevada desert and Death Valley NP trip

Thanks for the info. and all the great pics. We are heading out for DV tomorrow.
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