Part 9 Monarch Canyon to Red Rock State Park.
Monarch Canyon is another nice small spot that can hold a limited amount of vehicles. The canyon is accessed off the Chloride Cliffs trail. A few miles off the highway the trail splits. The right split will take you on the short spur that shortly dead ends. Here is a link to a site that is more suited to rock climbers but has some good pictures and a great explanation of this area.
I really liked Monarch Canyon when we explored the area a couple of years back. You can drive to the dead end where a cliff overlooks an area of brush like no other Iíve seen in DV. There is a spring just below this cliff which seems to keep things growing. The end of the road is a fine place to camp but can be windy at times.
The wind was a little bothersome so we set up a couple barriers. Here are a few pictures of Monarch from past years:
This vegetation was a strange site.
I wish the group had time to join us on this part of the trip. It seemed strangely silent now that we were by ourselves. Now I donít mind being by myself or with a friend while off roading, but my smile muscles were recuperating from the last 3 days. This was one trip were it seemed everybody clicked. Still Don and I had a great night in Monarch. The fire was comfortable as we kicked back and watched mice run around the rocks next to us. I wondered if they knew we were going to feed them. As they scurried around I hoped they would stay out of the van. Iíve had an intruder in my van before and I donít like.
In the morning we decided to leave DV. As we left the canyon, the same Jeep group that we had seen in Echo showed up.
At Echo we had discussed the rock dry falls that our group had avoided and suggested they could make it provided there rigs had lockers. They didnít have any problems climbing the dry falls, but they informed us that there was another section of the trail which was more difficult due to a wash out. The word was ďhighly off camberĒ. It was good information to know. Iím glad we decided to pass it by on this trip even though the vans might have been able to make it. You never know whatís around the bend and apparently the rangers didnít know about it either. After the Jeeps passed us we headed for the highway. The previous night we had discussed what route we were going to take on our trip home. The Jawbone area was on the list but eventually we decided to return to Red Rock state Park for the last night. We planned to leave the park via Emigrant Canyon.
On the way out we finally saw some wild flowers along the roadway. I donít think it would be a good year for flowers but what do I know. It was a little early for spring time flora anyway.
Dropping into lower DV we noticed the weather was changing. The wind was blustery and we could see a sand storm off in the distance.
I did not want to drive through this even though it didnít look bad. In 2006 we had endured a solid week of extreme high winds. Both of us have had enough of wind storms at Death Valley.
This time we missed all the blowing sand while heading up and out of the valley floor. At the top of Emigrant Pass I took a picture. It was amazing what the temperature difference was up there. It was flat cold up there.
Dropping down into the Panamint Valley we got strafed again. One of the jets flew so low and fast we didnít have time to react, but I got the next guy.
It still wasn't as close of a fly-by as the day we were coming out of Ballarat, but it's cool to watch these aircraft no matter how close they are.
In Ridgecrest we stocked up on food, ice, and beer. We finally made it back to Red Rock. Unfortunately it was cold and windy, so the evening party time occurred in the van.
In the morning we got up early, made some espresso, and had our traditional cup-o-noodles. We had three choices on our return trip; head straight home, Jawbone, or Dove Springs. Being the Dove Springs trail was less than a half mile away we went for it.
(End of part 9)