Death Valley Riding Condition

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

  1. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    I had an XR250R and you are right about how much fun it is off road. I don't think the sand will be a problem on the 250 because there isn't that much of it. There are way more rocks to deal with than sand.

    If your KTM 530 rider hasn't already done it, he will need a radiator fan. Use the KTM OEM fan as it works great and plugs right in. All of the big bore (500cc) KTM's need it for the rocky trails or you will boil out all your radiator fluid. The new 500EXC comes with a radiator fan but the 350EXC does not.

    The 530 splits the engine and transmission oil so that doesn't leave much for the engine. The new 500EXC combines the engine and transmission oil for a total of 1.6 quarts. It also has only one oil filter to change and a few screens.

    Once your get to Eureka Dunes from Steele Pass you will run into a closed road sign on Death Valley/Big Pine Road heading east. That road is closed from Eureka Dunes to Ubehebe Crater. If for some reason they open up this road, your loop from PSR to Furnace Creek via Crank Shaft Crossing and Ubehebe Crater will be 185 miles.

    If you take the same route and stop at Stovepipe Wells for gas, your mileage will be 175 miles not saving you many miles.

    If you ride South Pass to Lippincott Mine Road to Ubehebe Crater to Furnace Creek, you will not run into any road closed signs, unless something changes, and your mileage will be 132 miles.

    If you still want to ride Steele Pass you could bail out west to Big Pine and get gas and then, if you don't run out of daylight, ride back to Eureka Dunes turnoff and head north on Eureka Valley Road and wind your way east to Gold Point Ghost Town. You can actually spend the night there and Walt will sell you some gas if you are getting low but I would call ahead and make sure he will be there before venturing that way.

    I haven't ridden Eureka Valley Road but the dirt roads in Nevada appear to be in much better shape than the DV dirt roads. If you find out for sure that gas will be waiting for you in Gold Point, you could skip Big Pine and just head north from Eureka Dunes on Eureka Valley road and head for Gold Point.

    You can look up Gold Point on the internet for contact information. I hope to do more exploring north of Eureka Dunes this winter.
  2. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    We're basically the street legal portion of our RV riding crew, so we want to camp with the gear. (everyone else has RZR's or green sticker stuff) Gold Point will have to wait, but the bar sure looked interesting! Our pumpkin guy is working on that fan issue, I think he has one now. Sharp handling bike. Not sure I want a fuel injected bike, so I will stay old school for a few years at least.

    I haven't spent much time riding the xr400. Did about 70 miles headed from camp to Schmidts' Tunnel out in Randsburg, but not much else of any consequence. Played around a bit in Spangler Hills. Most hard core off roading I did this summer was on the xr600 and xr250r. (I've only had the xr's 5-8 months) The xr400 had some really great Precision Concepts forks I pulled off and put on my Xr600. Really made a difference in deflection and rock handling. I have some spare forks for the xr400 I picked up from a buddy but they need going thru. (Stock) Unfortunately, the xr400 has the bigger 4 gal tank. I think it's the logical thing to bring to DV and use the xr600 for stuff closer to the fuel source. Keep the speeds down 50-55 mph and either should be good. That xr400 tank will go on the xr250 but the ponies just aren't there for the hills, such as Lippencott, Pleasant Valley or the road portion from Stovepipe to PSR. Gas mileage is tho! :D That thing climbs rocks, ledges, and steps better than anything I've ridden.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Lots of great, sublime scenes up there I remember. I hope to get out there and see that area you mentioned not far from Independence, but I think in mid Nov the snow will close that in. Really enjoyed the scenery going down Lippencott. Hope to see things from Hunter Pass this year. (Every time I get there it's snowed)

    Thanks again,
    Chuck
  3. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    I'm certainly no expert, but I rode up Lippencott, Pleasant Valley and the road from Stovepipe to PSR on my KLX250S last February. Yeah, I wished it had more power up around Rogers pass, but it did the job. Your XR250R has a couple more ponies and about 40 less pounds than my KLX, so I don't think you'd have any trouble. I just picked up an XR250R and hope to bring that to DV some day.

    My ride report: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=770555
  4. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    But I'm not sure I want to gift my buddies with my slowness :D They're on xr650r's, a 530 exc and wr450f. On the ledges, rock hops, yes! Road shots and long sand/gravel hauls ...hills..

    The steeper the hills, the more the sand, the bigger the xr
  5. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    I think you would smoke your buddies on your XR250R going up Lippinicott and especially on the 10 mile section of Steele Pass that has been completely washed away but from Furnace Creek to Beatty on the pavement, with a strong headwind, you would be left in the dust.

    There are no big hill climbs in Death Valley where you need lots of horsepower. The paved roads are the only places where you might be at a disadvantage. Riding up Pleasant Canyon from Ballarat is a 1st or 2nd gear techical climb because of all the rocks.

    I think your 250 would be the bike of choice for:
    1. Goler Wash
    2. Mengel Pass
    3. Echo Pass
    4. South Pass
    5. Steele Pass
    6. Lippincott Road
    7. Pleasant Canyon and South Park

    On the dirt roads between all those places, I rarely ride faster than 40 mph so anyone out there reading this thread who rides a 250cc dual sport bike, should know it will do very well all over Death Valley and better than larger bikes on the technical sections.

    There are sections of deep sand and gravel but there are more rocks to deal with than sand and gravel.

    It is actually the heavy Adventure Bikes, not the light 250cc bikes, that will have problems with the difficult sections of DV.

    If you find yourself on a 400 lb.or heavier bike fully loaded with gear and are using dual sport tires rather than knobbies, and you are half way up Lippincott Road with 30 psi or more air in your tires and you loose your momentum and are riding alone, you might be stuck for a while. Just turning around a heavy bike on Lippincott alone is a challenge not to mention what you are in for if you happen to drop your bike or find it is upside down off the trail.

    I say all this because I have been there before. My buddy and I rode our BMW's, he on an R1200GS and I was on an R1200GSA. We were told that Lippincott was easy and could be done in a 2WD car so we tried it. Our bikes were fully loaded, but we did have knobbies. We had to air down to 20 psi to have any hope of making it up and I had to push my friend to get some traction to make it up Lippincott. We just barely made it and that was a few years ago when this road was in much better shape than it is right now.

    We rode the same bikes over "the escape route", also known as Manly Pass, and he hit a rock with his back wheel while going down a steep hill, causing the back end to swap and before he knew it, he and the bike were upside down off the trail on a steep down hill section.

    We unloaded what we could and it took both of us to lift his GS and get it back on the trail. Had he been alone, he would have had to hike out to the pavement and get help.

    After these two experiences, I won't ride an Adventure bike on the Escape Route or on Lippincott Mine Road again. However, I will take my lighter dual sport bikes anywhere in DV but won't ride alone.

    Even with all my years of experience riding off road in the desert, unexpected things can happen so having one or more buddies along is the best plan as far as I'm concerned.

    For the talented, experienced riders reading this, I'm sure you already know all this and you probably have more skill on a big bike than I do. I'm passing on my opinions and experience for the "mere mortals" out there who are not pro level riders and may be new to dual sporting or adventure riding and want to know what to expect, especially if they are new to Death Valley.

    I have found the information I have gotten from those who post on advrider to be very helpful for me when planning trips. What is easy for one rider is impossible for the next.
  6. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    My first DV trip I brought a ktm 950 and a drz. Enjoyed the ktm on easy sections and road. Never had optimal tires for either. I really prefer toting a bike via jeep/rv and camping than riding out carrying gear. Don't enjoy the adventure bike deal. I use street legal dirt bikes for off road and street bikes for aggressive street.

    That xr250r is a hoot! No doubt. Maybe with a xr280 kit and xr400 forks might do the trick. Very light and maneuverable. Don't think open dez is its specialty. Been on some hill climbs that turned into first gear rev fests. The xr400 and xr600 are probably perfectly. If I stopped being indecisive id probably sell one!
  7. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    My first DV trip I brought a ktm 950 and a drz. Enjoyed the ktm on easy sections and road. Never had optimal tires for either. I really prefer toting a bike via jeep/rv and camping than riding out carrying gear. Don't enjoy the adventure bike deal. I use street legal dirt bikes for off road and street bikes for aggressive street.

    That xr250r is a hoot! No doubt. Maybe with a xr280 kit and xr400 forks might do the trick. Very light and maneuverable. Don't think open dez is its specialty. Been on some hill climbs that turned into first gear rev fests. The xr400 and xr600 are probably perfectly. If I stopped being indecisive probably sell one!
  8. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    I agree about hauling a my bikes to DV. I rode my R1200GSA all over DV but there were many places where I couldn't ride it so after several trips with a big bike, I started hauling my smaller dual sport bikes and found I had much more fun once I got to DV.

    There are so many great bikes these days that it is hard to settle on just one. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. 400 to 500cc's has become the sweet spot for me.
  9. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    I'd like to get an update on the following:

    1. Manly Pass (the escape route)
    2. Goler Wash
    3. Mengle Pass
    3. Butte Valley Road
    4. West Side Highway
    5. Echo Canyon

    If any of you have ridden any of these recently, let us know what the conditions are like.

    Thanks.
  10. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    U sound like a man whose headed back.. When?
  11. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    I like to take about 4 trips to DV every winter. No dates when I will return yet but I will probably take my son out for some exploring two times in November.

    Sometimes I just go on the spur of the moment if everything lines up.
  12. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    Nov 17th if you'd like to link up. Staying until Tue or Wed.
  13. MJS

    MJS Long timer

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    FWIW, Walt sometimes has gas in Gold Point.
  14. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Walt had gas to sell us when we were there but we had enough to get to Beatty.

    If you plan to ride in the north part of DV and it works out to ride to Gold Point, call Walt and make sure he has gas before you plan for it. They have a web site with contact information here: http://www.goldpointghosttown.com/
  15. BigNastybrp

    BigNastybrp Big Nasty

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    http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/backcountryroads.htmHey you can get to the road report from here it has most of what you asked and is updated all the time. B
  16. jrsride2002

    jrsride2002 Adventurer

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  17. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

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    this thread is great. i love dv and planning to it again next march for the 8th noobs rally.

    maybe get out there this thanksgiving.

    thanks jim for the updates and pics. very useful, motivating and entertaining.
  18. DSM8

    DSM8 Where fun goes to die....

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    If you show up for T-Day look for the signature fire pit at site 15, Ill be there.

    :evil

    Anyone (well most anyone) is welcome around the campfire.
  19. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    Thanks for the report. 2on2off. Just spent a few days out there, and heard from the ranger at Lone Pine about all the road closures, but having the details from you is so much better.:freaky

    BTW, I'm loving my tubeless tires on my DR350...
  20. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

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    thanks dave. will let you know before t-day.

    also thinking of spending a couple days at the hot springs. trunks mandatory.



    hi pete. good to see you're all over the place. last time i saw you was in baja during the 250 in 2010.