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To Death Valley and Back Again

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by nickfromdc, Mar 9, 2020.

  1. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    Hello gang!

    This is my first attempt at a ride report. Im more of a photographer than a writer, but I will do my best.

    A few months ago I sold my friend my Tiger 1200XC, I gave him a good deal, but he had to agree to go adventuring with me whenever we could both make it work. My wife isn't crazy about me going on long rides solo, so this was key.

    Finally we were able to make some time and carved out two days this past weekend to make a quick overnight run to Death Valley. We left my place in LA on Saturday morning and hit the road.


    The bikes are getting ready.
    Friend: 2014 Triumph Tiger 1200XC - stock
    Me: 2007 Ducati SportClassic GT1000 - Bar Risers, Fly Screen, GP Racing front Cartridges, Ohlins Rear, Conti replica exhaust, airbox delete, custom ECU tune, Oberon Clutch slave, Pazzo levers, and more - I hooked this thing up, she hauls!

    Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 10.54.28 AM.png

    Here is roughly the route we took.

    We started north out of LA and plowed it on the highway up to Santa Clarita. My Ducati actually makes a pretty solid tourer and adventurer, but the little Dart flyscreen on the highway is no fun. Me and the Duc vs. the wind was very much a theme of the trip.

    In Santa Clarita we jumped off the highway hit the San Francisquito Canyon Road. I've been wanting to explore this area for a while, its so close to my house and supposed to be gorgeous. It did not disappoint. The riding was incredible. No pictures from this section, was having way too much fun on the bike to stop.


    Heres a pic from google, missing here are all the epic twisties!

    Lots of big sweepers through beautiful horse country and rolling green hills. Beautiful, fun, fast riding.

    Towards the end of the road we rode through a very pretty town called Green Valley, again we didn't stop, but I'm definitely riding back there at some point and stopping for lunch.


    Another google shot to give some illustration. Really cute town.

    Next we headed into the Lancaster/Willow Springs area. This all kind of middle-of-nowhere agricultural land. Not the most photogenic. But wowee, long, straight roads that were just empty. That was fun. I tucked behind my windscreen and was hitting some pretty high RPMs in sixth gear...

    Just flying. That Desmo twin through my Conti pipes at 8k RPM really sings. oh baby.

    Ok - now I actually started taking some photos.

    We went through Mojave and got back on the 14 for a bit. This section is pretty boring - just plowed through and got to our first proper stop for the day.


    The Jawbone Canyon Store!

    This place is totally rad, Im sure a bunch of y'all here are familiar with it. Great dirt bike, ATV etc hangout near all the great trails in this area. We hung out and ate some chili dogs and shot the shit with some of the dirt bike dudes. Great time, great food, great place, great people.

    A few more pics...


    Some fully tricked out KTMs in the back ground, I was dreaming about having one these the rest of the day as I kept seeing all the epic trails my bike was not up for.


    From there we headed northeast through the Trona Wilderness area. Nice blacktop, beautiful scenery. Very solid country roads. Cruising along, listening to the music from the Desmo.


    We hopped off the road here to explore some fire roads and what not for a bit. This was certainly an adventure for me on the Ducati. Im on pretty old, balding, street tires. I made it work and it was definitely exciting and very satisfying to pilot it down some of the trails. I felt like a bad ass.


    More coming in next post...

    Attached Files:

  2. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    Ok -- so back it.

    So after a bit of exploring we hopped back on the road and headed up the 178 towards Death Valley.

    This was a beautiful drive. We passed through what I think were some mining towns, but this was pretty much wilderness the whole way though. It winds through several valleys and canyons and over some passes. Beautiful scenery.


    Looking down into the valley. This was another stretch where we were just flying. Long, smooth roads with big wide turns. Unbelievable sights in every direction. Just huge, flat expanses with these majestic mountains off in the distance. Great stuff.


    About to head down into some twisties!


    The pavement through here was all reddish/brown. Maybe they use some local material to make it? Whatever the reason, it was great tarmac. Fresh, smooth, sticky.



    Some action shots of my buddy.

    We got to the turn off for Panamint Valley Road which would have taken us up to the 190 and on the standard way into the park. We looked straight and saw "Wildrose Rd" and a sign pointing down it that "to Death Valley." The road was very poorly maintained tarmac, dissolving into dirt and gravel within eye shot. After my off-road experience earlier my confidence in myself and my bike was high and we decided to disregard Google Maps and have a bit of an adventure.
    Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 12.38.25 PM.png

    The route we took into the park.

    The road was actually not too bad. Some bits got pretty hairy, but I just stood up, took it at a reasonable pace and we got through just fine. This decision was very worth it. This was definitely some real wilderness. Beautiful, remote, devoid of other people. We had been having fun really tearing up the roads all day. Here we finally slowed down and really took our time. First the terrain, then gravel in every turn definitely encouraged the slower pace. I didn't take pictures here, bc again, too much fun riding.


    Another google shot for illustrative purposes. Wow.

    We finally made it into Death Valley National Park proper and stopped at the sand dunes to watch the sunset.


    We kept riding as sun finished sinking behind the mountains.



    The colors!

    We stopped for the night in Furnace Creek. Got a bite, passed out.

    One more post for the ride back.
  3. acesandeights

    acesandeights Noob

    Jul 2, 2008
    So. Oregon
    I grew up not too far from there and road dirt bikes out in the desert. Jawbone Canyon was a good place to grab a soda and bag of chips while riding my hand-me-down YZ250. Sure looks nicer than I remember.
    sealsam and nickfromdc like this.
  4. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    The route home:

    Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 1.00.41 PM.png

    We headed south out of Furnace Creek down to Badwater Basin to check out the salt flats there.

    We popped off on a couple trails to see some other sites. I was pretty jazzed about taking the GT1000 down some the trails and dirt roads. Made me feel like Ted Simon on his Triumph. LOL.

    Stopped at the Devil's Golf Course and took some shots.




    Does anyone know the story behind these formations? They are so wild.

    Next stop Badwater Basin and the salt flats there. We took a while here and walked out in the middle of it. Very cool. I believe it is the lowest point in the US. There is a great sign way up high on a cliff over the parking lot marking the sea level. Its a good ways up!


    A person for scale!


    We continued down Badwater Rd south and eventually turned on West Side Road. We explored up this while, but eventually turned around as it would eventually take us too far back up north.

    We stopped and hiked around for a bit. Got up on nice hill and took some photos.





    And thats it for pictures sadly.

    From there we took the 127 south. This a long, desolate road. Some pretty vistas for sure, but it was very windy and I was having a rough time on the Ducati.

    At one point as we were riding we saw huge a dust cloud flying across the desert floor towards the highway. It looked like a shot from Mad Max. It turned out to be a dune buggy ripping across the desert. I guess there is a huge a dune buggy/baja truck scene out there. Saw tons of very bad ass rides in the staging areas along the road.

    We stopped for very tasty tacos in Baker and then jumped on the 15. This SUCKED. I hate the highway in general and it so f***ing windy. I was really struggling. But what can you do. I tucked in, gunned it and tried to blast through as quick as I could. Several times I looked at my friend on my old Triumph and wondered why I ever sold it!!

    Finally we hopped off the 15 and onto Palmdale Road. No wind! We just ripped it down this long straight road. Some decent scenery, but mostly straight, smooth and no wind. High speed runs!

    We eventually go onto Mt Emma Road and the Angeles Forest Highway. We had a great final stretch on the epic twisties through Angeles National Forest. I ride these roads almost every weekend. They are just the best!

    And from there I was soon heading up my driveway and back into the garage. Woo!

    Great trip. An extra night would have been lovely, but you take what you can get.

    For anyone who lives in the Los Angeles area, I could not recommend this more highly!

    lvscrvs, sealsam, MonkeyBut and 11 others like this.
  5. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    Im pretty determined to get a dirt bike and make that my new hang out!

    Great spot!
    sealsam and Socalstrom like this.
  6. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

    Oct 7, 2010
    Billings, MT
    Nice job nickfromdc - well done!
    nickfromdc likes this.
  7. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    Thank you!
  8. Art.M

    Art.M n00b

    Aug 8, 2018
    Big Bear Lake CA USA
    Next time in Death Valley NP, consider checking out:
    Dante's View
    Artist Drive
    Artist Palette
    Zabriskie Point
    Panamint Springs
    Darwin Falls
    City of Darwin
    Father Crowley Overlook (Star Wars Canyon)

    Very nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    sealsam likes this.
  9. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    Thank you Art! Cant wait to get out there again and explore all these spots!
    sealsam likes this.
  10. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

    May 30, 2010
    seal beach, ca.
    Great suggestions by Art.

    But to add to that list, Lone Pine & the Alabama Hills. It's very very close to DV.


    Cool spot, used to take my kids dirt bike riding up there quite a bit back in the day. My oldest and his buddies still ride there a few times a year.


    Loved the report Nick. Thanks for sharing, a fantastic area!!
  11. nickfromdc

    nickfromdc Adventurer

    Jul 7, 2015
    Venice, CA
    thank you Sam!

    Alabama Hills one of the first places I want to hit post quarantine.

    I saw this video:

    and now I’m dying to go.

    I want to get a proper dual sport bike first to tackle it.

    although, I would love to throw knobbies on my Ducati and shred it like Jamie in the video.

    PSA to all inmates, that YouTube channel is excellent.