Death Valley Riding Condition

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by 2on2off, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    I heard that Trona has fuel as of 6/1/12. I'd stop to top off, but don't rely on it.
  2. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    When we went through there in late March there were signs that Trona was a little more alive than it seemed a year ago. There was at least one gas station pumping gas, and a market was open that was closed a year ago.

    But yes, don't rely on it.
  3. Baja Ho

    Baja Ho Been here awhile

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    :lurk Thanks for all the posting guys, may have to head out there in the Fall. The salt tram ride looks awesome.
  4. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Heading out to Death Valley for a 4 day ride with two friends tomorrow for my first trip to DV for this winter season. Can't wait.

    Here is where we plan to ride:

    Friday: Panamint Springs Resort to Cerro Gordo and we will ride the ridge to the Salt Tram.
    Saturday: PSR to South Pass, Hot Springs, Steele Pass, Eureka Dunes, Crank Shaft, Gold Point, Castle, Beatty
    Sunday: Beatty to Ubehebe Crater, Race Track, Lippincott, North Pass, Papoose Flat, Lone Pine, PSR
    Monday: Ballarat, Pleasant Canyon, Middle Park, South Park

    I will report back on conditions next week. I'm glad we are finally getting some rain in California to settle the dust.

    Larryboy started a thread in early August, 2012 on Death Valley Road Conditions with some very good information. You can check out his thread here:

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=815079
  5. jrsride2002

    jrsride2002 Adventurer

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    :lurk

    OH OH!!!!:y0! Tell me a novice dirtbike rider can make it through there!!!! I've got a bad itch to go ridding...:cry

    ~Junior
  6. LeDakaR!

    LeDakaR! Banned

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    Hell yeah Dv season is here ! RR n pics!
  7. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    If you can handle la2barstow to vegas! Might want a good partner or two to watch over the tough stuff tho
  8. jrsride2002

    jrsride2002 Adventurer

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    Dont get me wrong, i've been to DV twice on the XR, and loved it. Just from what I read from Larryboy's report, im hesitant... Thats all. Read that a lot of routes/roads are all torn up from the storms.

    ~Junior
  9. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    There is a ton of information I gathered in the last four days of riding in Death Valley. I will be writing up a detailed report but for now here are the highlights:

    1. Death Valley dirt roads are a whole new ball game this year. Don't ride alone especially if you are new to DV.
    2. South Pass is the worst I have ever seen it as well as the west end of South Park
    3. Lots of "Road Closed" signs all over the place
    4. The Stop N Go Gas station in Trona is now Vallero and was pumping gas yesterday
    5. Small and large washouts on North Pass can jump up and grab you if you are not paying close attention
    6. The first 2 miles heading north from the Saline Valley Hot Springs on Steele Pass is OK but then the trail completely disappears for the next 10 miles because it has been completely washed out. We just stayed in the wash and headed for the saddle and watched where the trail was suppose to be on the GPS. We made it to Eureka Dunes but just barely. Don't ride this if you are unfamiliar with the area.

    We rode over 600 miles in four days and there was evidence of flash floods and washouts all over the park.

    None of this stopped the three of us from having an Epic ride but we are very familiar with the area and were riding a KTM 500, KTM 525 and a dual sported XR600. All three bikes are light enough to handle this plus we have lots of years of experience riding the desert.

    I'm very glad I bought the 5.3 gallon Acerbis fuel tank for my KTM 500EXC. Two of our days were over 220 miles between gas stops.

    More later............
  10. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Riding the ridge on Swansea Road to the Salt Tram.

    [​IMG]
  11. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    We rode up Swansea Road to the Salt Tram. The steps were a bit more difficult than last spring but not too bad as long as you keep your momentum. Riding an adventure bike up this requires a rider with more skill than I have.

    The Salt Tram:
    http://2on2off.smugmug.com/DualSportRide/4-Day-Death-Valley-Ride-Oct/i-d9Z7Txc/0/M/IMG0466-M.jpg

    This is really frustrating. I was able to post a picture on the previous post but can now only get a link to post from smugmug. I'll post more pictures if I can figure this out but I don't have unlimited time for this.
  12. roundtripping

    roundtripping Adventourist

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  13. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    Very good.

    Where are the more forested areas? Pleasant Valley? Hunter Pass? Somewhere near Darwin? Hope to see it. We'd like to ride much of what you did but will have to solve gas issues.. Stage from PSR?

    Thanks,

    Chuck
  14. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    I just sifted through the whole album, looks like you guys hit it hard!! :thumb

    Nice to see that Randy made some good progress on the labyrinth!! :clap

    The second I hit the lotto, I'm buying that castle!!! :freaky
  15. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Until I can figure out how to post pictures properly, I will give a report of what we saw during our 4 day ride:

    Day One:

    Swansea and Cerro Gordo Road up to the Salt Tram:

    An experienced rider on a 400 lb. or less weight dual sport bike can do this but if you are on a heavier bike, you will need better skills than I have. If you ride alone, you should be able to pick your dropped bike alone and it might be upside down.

    [​IMG]

    We hauled our bikes (mostly to save the knobbies) to Panamint Springs Resort (PSR) last Friday and unloaded and rode to Swansea Road and headed north up the hill riding clockwise. This is only my second time on this road and it is rougher, at the steps, then it was last May probably because of the August 1 floods and heavy rain.

    A good rider can make it up the steps as long as you keep your momentum. If you have to stop or drop your bike, you might have to go down a bit and then start up again because of loose rocks and the steps.

    The beginning of Swansea and Cerro Gordo Roads, where they connect to highway 136 are only about 3 miles apart. The loop starts at 3,600 ft and you can ride up to 9,900 ft. at the top. The section of road on the summit is over 8,000 feet from the Salt Tram to Cerro Gordo so this road is closed in the winter when there is snow and ice. The Cerro Gordo Road is open most of the winter from 136 to Cerro Gordo because there is an AT&T and US Naval antenna's at Cerro Gordo.

    In my opinion, this loop offers one of the best three views in all of Death Valley and it is a shame more dual sport riders haven't been on it. The Swansea Cerro Gordo loop starting and ending from highway 136 is only 34 miles but it is one of the most memorable loops you will do in Death Valley if you have the right bike and skills.

    We rode from the Salt Tram to Cerro Gordo and stopped in Cerro Gordo and got a personal tour of the town by Robert, the only resident in Cerro Gordo. We had the time and he had the information. You can call Robert at: 760-876-5030 if you want to stay the night and get a tour. He has motion sensors on the road so he knows when people come through. Keep your speed down and the dust down and you will have a good time in Cerro Gordo.

    Here is Robert:
    [​IMG]

    We loaded up and headed to PSR for some burgers and a comfy room.
  16. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Day Two from PSR to Beatty:

    South Pass:
    I have ridden over the Saline Valley South Pass many times on a variety of bikes including a fully loaded BMW R1200GS Adventure without a problem.

    This trip the conditions of South Pass were very different. The road is still signed "closed" as it has been for years. The road was in good condition up until the Hunter Mtn turn off but then as we headed down the north slope of South Pass, we saw the road had been washed out in many places.

    Some equipment has done some repairs and has pushed bolders into some of the washed out sections where there used to be water crossings. Once again, a lighter dual sport, we were on a KTM 525EXC, KTM 500EXC and a plated XR600. I consider all of these bikes light weight dual sports.

    Based on what I saw, anyone rideing a fully loaded KLR650 or heavier adventure bike will need to have outstanding skills to navigate South Pass. Larryboy is one of those kind of riders who could probably ride an adventure bike on South Pass.

    A good rider on a light dual sport (less than 400 lbs. and preferably a 300 lb or less bike, with experience riding rocks, will do fine. Again, I think it is a bad idea to ride alone. With all the rocks that have to be navigated, you could easily tip a bike over and find yourself pinned under your bike with no one to get you out for hours or days.

    South Pass got worse and there was a 100 yard long section with a deep rut and large rocks to navigate near the bottom of the north slope of South Pass. This picture does not give a good idea of how hard this section was to ride:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  17. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    From the bottom of the north slope of South Pass to Warm Springs, the road was fine with the usual amount of rocks and sand.

    We check out the springs and then headed north on Steele Pass. The trail was in the usual condition for the first two miles and then the trail completely disappeared. The heavy rains have washed out the road and we just followed the wash for 10 miles before we found the road again near the saddle.

    This 10 miles of wash requires a riders on a light weight dual sport bike, someone familiar with the trail and a GPS because you have to negotiate deep sand and big rocks and it is very easy, as we found out, to get off on a dead end finger of the wash. We had to restart and find the correct section of the wash multiple times. Without some sense of which direction to go and where the trail used to be, you can easily get stuck in the wash.

    I didn't get any pictures of this 10 mile section because it took all my effort and concentration just to make it through.

    Finally we found the road again and headed for the narrow canyon and steps which were in the usual condition.
    [​IMG]

    Eureka Dunes is always a great sight to see when riding north on this trail:
    [​IMG]
  18. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    After we rode out of Eureka Dunes, we turned right, east, on Death Valley Road and there was a "road closed" sign. This is the first time I have ever seen a road closed sign on this road. We learned the next day that there is another "road closed" sign on this same road at Ubehebe Crater.
    [​IMG]

    We road to Crankshaft Crossing and then took the dirt road to the north instead of heading south to Ubehebe Crater. This was my first time riding this road as we headed for Gold Point, NV. As it turned out, this road was in the best shape of any of the roads we rode during our 4 days and it was alot of fun to ride. I would rate it good for dual sport and adventure bikes.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We rolled into Gold Point ahead of schedule. This is my first trip to this Ghost Town and it is in surprisingly good shape and was currently hosting a group of dual sport riders. We met Walt, the owner of the town, and got a drink and made a donation. He gave us a tour of the town.

    This is Walt in the hat telling us he has the best stocked bar in Esmerelda County:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  19. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    We rode south from Gold Point to the Lost Mine Castle on a very fun dirt road that was in very good condition and got a tour even though it was past 3:00 p.m. when the tours end.

    For a $10 donation per person, you will get a tour of this amazing place. I was most impressed with his "star gazing" glass room on the roof where he has a good view of all the air craft activity only a few miles to the east of him. He said he has seem some amazing things at night and has been buzzed by B2 planes that he couldn't hear coming. He only knew it was coming because of the noise the chase plane made.

    He said he will be gone for two weeks and will resume tours on approx. Nov. 1, 2012. If you are riding out there before 11/1/12, don't expect to get a tour.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  20. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    We rode the dirt road from the Castle to highway 267 and it was in very good condition. We planned to ride the dirt road from 267 to Beatty but it was getting dark so we rode pavement to Beatty.

    Total miles for the day was about 210 miles and that was with no gas stations to refuel. My new 5.3 gallon Acerbis fuel tank worked great and I had gas to spare when I got to Beatty. Had I waited for the Safari 4.0 gallon fuel tank and bought that instead, I would have had to carry gas. My riding buddies had to carry about 2 gallons each to make this loop.

    All I had to carry was my backpack, fanny pack and the 100 oz. of water in my camelbak which is built into my backpack.

    Packing light made it much easier for me to make it through the rocky, sandy wash on Steele Pass. Staying in motels and splitting it 3 ways keeps the cost down and it is much easier than carrying a tent and sleeping bag. My personal preference is to spend maximum time riding and staying in motels allows me to do that. I know lots of riders prefer to camp and that is also a good option.

    My small group has been staying at the Exchange Club Motel in Beatty because the rates are reasonable and they have large rooms with roll aways so we can sleep 3 to a room and everyone gets their own bed.