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Old 01-25-2013, 01:06 AM   #16
2on2off
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Difficult sections of Death Valley

Based on my personal experience riding all over Death Valley on the dirt, I have found I can ride just about everywhere on a Suzuki DRZ400S, Honda XR650L and my current KTM 500EXC primarily because they are all light enough for me to man-handle in difficult sections and easily pick up should I find myself upside down off the trail.

My BMW R1200GSA was a completely different riding experience in Death Valley. Going up Lippincott, I found that on the GSA, if I lost my momentum and had to stop on a few off camber rocky sections with hard packed dirt and loose pebbles on top, I could hardly get going for lack of traction even with TKC knobbies aired down to 20 psi. My riding buddy was on an R1200GS and I had to push him in a few sections for him to gain traction and hitting one rock the wrong way can throw you down before you know what happened.

With a few friends to help if needed, it is possible to ride a big and heavy Adventure Bike up and down Lippincott but it is alot of work.

A rider with advanced off road riding skills can ride the bike bikes just about anywhere in Death Valley but they are an elite group and I'm not in that catagory even though I have been riding for over 44 years.

There are no steps on Lippincott but it is a very narrow road with some steep sections with not enough width on the trail for me to be able to turn around a fully loaded GSA alone. It is the off camber sections where you can loose traction and loose your momentum. And if you are riding this solo on a big bike, you might be stuck for a while.

Going down is easier than going up.

Places that were too hard for me to ride my GSA on include:
1. Goler Wash because of the loose sand and gravel
2. Mengle Pass because of the big rocks near the "rock cairn"
3. Echo Pass because of the steps and rocky trail
4. Steele Pass because of the rocky 10 mile section just north of the hot springs
5. South Pass because the current washed out conditions (rode it in the past with no problem when it was in better shape)
6. Escape Route (Manly Pass) because of one very steep down hill section that sent my buddy over the handle bars and left the bike upside down off the trail. Took both of us to get it back on the trail. I did it once on my GSA but wouldn't do it again.

I have ridden all these on my dual sport bikes and it was challenging but fun.

This is just what I have experienced. Other rides with better skill will have a different opinion.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:23 PM   #17
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Going solo on Saline Valley Road, early March

Glad to see this thread.

I'm planning a trip on my R12GSA at the beginning of March. Have to be in Phoenix on business so taking the bike there from SF.

After the meeting I'm meeting my brother for a run down to Marfa Texas.
Planning to come back through DV and I'm looking forward to taking the Saline Valley route.

I need to run street tires for the 98% of the route that is paved. Probably Anakees. So I'll ride them on Saline Valley Road too.

Just mounted my rotopax to Zego Pro cases so I can carry the goods I need for camping and touring. I've ridden DV before including a trip to the racetrack. Been offroad near Bodie, in Mendocino, and in Idaho.

Could use a ride buddy if anyone wants to run Saline Valley around March 10th. I have some flexibility on date.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:35 AM   #18
ZappBranigan
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I've never ridden a bike there but I was in DVNP 2 years ago at that time (mid-late March) with a 4x4 group and here's what I can pass on:

1. The gas stations at Scotty's Castle and Grapevine/Mequite Springs will be closed, so plan accordingly.

2. The road between Ubehebe Crater and Teakettle junction was the WORST washboard road I have ever driven on, period. It took us around 2 hours to go the 20 miles. On our way up there, we ran into a couple of women in a late-model Suburban who had driven from Teakettle to Ubehebe without airing down their tires. They experienced 3 flat tires and were only able to keep going by driving a little, then stopping to air the tire back up, and then driving some more.

3. Be prepared for extremes if wind and cold near the Racetrack. I don't know if you're going to camp out or if you're doing the trip all in one day, but we camped out near Teakettle Junction and the temp dropped to about 28, and the wind was whipping around with gusts of 25 - 50mph.

We didn't do Lippincott or Hunter Mountain so I can't comment on those trails. We did do Mengel Pass and Goler Canyon, from East to West and they were both pretty decent. I think it helped that we were heading downhill on the worst part of Goler.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:41 AM   #19
Rob.G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZappBranigan View Post
I've never ridden a bike there but I was in DVNP 2 years ago at that time (mid-late March) with a 4x4 group and here's what I can pass on:

1. The gas stations at Scotty's Castle and Grapevine/Mequite Springs will be closed, so plan accordingly.
That gas station has been closed for years; it's a shame too since it sure would be nice to have gas available up there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZappBranigan View Post
2. The road between Ubehebe Crater and Teakettle junction was the WORST washboard road I have ever driven on, period. It took us around 2 hours to go the 20 miles. On our way up there, we ran into a couple of women in a late-model Suburban who had driven from Teakettle to Ubehebe without airing down their tires. They experienced 3 flat tires and were only able to keep going by driving a little, then stopping to air the tire back up, and then driving some more.
I was there not long after you -- end of May. I agree, it was nasty washboard. I was on my DR650. I found myself standing for most of the ride because the vibration from the washboard, even at 25-30 mph, was giving me a headache.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZappBranigan View Post
We didn't do Lippincott or Hunter Mountain so I can't comment on those trails. We did do Mengel Pass and Goler Canyon, from East to West and they were both pretty decent. I think it helped that we were heading downhill on the worst part of Goler.
Unless there's cold weather/snow predicted, I'd much rather do Hunter Mountain than that washboarded road from hell. It's a much more fun ride, as long as it's not snowy or muddy up there. And lots of nice places to camp in the trees, so at least you'll be protected from the wind, even if it's cold.

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:26 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2on2off View Post
Based on my personal experience riding all over Death Valley on the dirt, I have found I can ride just about everywhere on a Suzuki DRZ400S, Honda XR650L and my current KTM 500EXC primarily because they are all light enough for me to man-handle in difficult sections and easily pick up should I find myself upside down off the trail.

6. Escape Route (Manly Pass) because of one very steep down hill section that sent my buddy over the handle bars and left the bike upside down off the trail. Took both of us to get it back on the trail. I did it once on my GSA but wouldn't do it again. .
There are two ways over Manly pass. Are you talking about the jeep road ro the single track trail?

Actually other than at the very bottom of east side the road is no where near the Escape Trail which goes straight on up Fish and then down Isham.

For my skills there are no hills on the Jeep Raod. Since I built switchbacks on the single trail, it really doesn't have any hills now. Now easy to ride in both directions, before it was east only no matter your skill.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:37 PM   #21
mcmahon38
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Just got back from DV yesterday.

I am on a KTM 530 with a 3.1 gallon tank and an assortment of MSR fuel bottles.

Camped at Mesquite Springs

Friday- Ride past Scottys and out to the Hardluck Castle, find a faint road east Sarcobatus Falts? (towards Beatty) and manage to pick the fork that leads to the millions of mining roads above Beatty, what a maze. Finally work out way into town and refuel to slab it down to Titus Canyon. Work our way down Titus which is super fun and find a group of juvenile Big Horns standing right beside the road. Slab it the 20 miles back to Mesquite. 125 miles total.

Saturday-
Up to the Ubehebe crater and then out to the Race Track- road is in great shape. Funny how it says the speed limit is 35- in a car that would be terrifiying. On a bike its quick for most of it. From the RT out to the right turn down the Lippincott Pass. Just pick your way down it. Its not that bad until you get to the bottom and have to traverse about 3 miles of really washed rocks. A flat waiting to happen and no place to relax. Just one wash after another....
Turn right on the Saline Valley road with gets progressively better as you get down to the valley floor. Take the right just after the Saline dunes and head up to the Springs. The 'scenery' was quite good at the lower springs and we ended up spending over 2.5 hours just soaking and laying on the grass have a snooze. Hey if you can get naked in front of strangers you are doing life wrong.
Suit up and immediately you are doing a rocky/loose gravel flail up the wash towards Steele Pass. It is hot, youre arms are burning and you have to pay attention at all times.This seemingly goes on for at least ten miles before the road gets better as you start climbing the pass. The switchbacks up the pass are not too bad on the KTM- on a big bike? no fun.

Once you get to the top it is cooler and the road is really fun for quite an ways. Then you get to what I think is Dedeckedera (sp) canyon and start down. There are three steps near the bottom that dont present any problem on unless you are on a big bike going the other way. Eureka Dunes are in sight and views are insane. A mile or two of deep sand is pretty straightforward if you just pin it and hold on. Then you are out on the washboard headed to the black top and a right headed over to Crankshaft Crossing thru Hanging Rock Canyon.

At Cranshaft you hit the DV road headed back towards Mesquite Springs and about 30 minutes of how fast do you want to go after a long day.

Total trip about 160 miles. The 530 ended up needed anbout 4 gallons to do the loop.

I had 1200 GS and would defintley not do this on it- not fun.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:36 PM   #22
Low594 OP
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Thats some good info, thanks!
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:56 PM   #23
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Ride report in the works!
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...6#post21084826
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