I've made a habit of riding to Death Valley each spring. I usually try to go in mid March. This year a friend and fellow motorcycle chapter member suggested that we do a chapter ride and spend the weekend there over the 24th and 25th of Feburary. From December 16th when the ride was proposed till the day we all met up for the ride we garnered a total of 13 members on 9 bikes. Only 3 of us had ever been to the valley before! I'm constantly amazed at how many folks are eager to experience a long ride like this is especially when the whole experience is new. The plan changed over the last 6 weeks or so also. We decided to take a more leisurely approach to the weekend by padding it with a couple of extra days.

So Thursday a fair sized group met at the MickyD's on Santa Rita Road for a 1:00 PM departure to our first nights lodging in Bakersfield at the Crystal Palace Best Western. We were going to meet the rest of the chapter in Death Valley on Friday.

Say hi to Dale, Pat, Bob, Lynda and myself, and Linda and Rich:


The route planned was to ride as quickly as possible South, so I-5 was to play a major part of it. Friday's ride into the valley was discussed at length Thursday because the desired route was to ride over Walkers Pass on 178 but at 5000 feet with unpredictable weather we wanted to have a plan "B" or even a "C".

The Route for day 1:


For those of you that don't know about the Crystal Palace, it's a landmark in Bakersfield thanks to country western star Buck Owens. It seems that Buck, who called Bakersfield home ever since the 50's, wanted a place to store all of his memorabilia, and a place to provide entertainment and food and dancing for the fine folks of the area. He built the Crystal Palace where he and his band played and sang the popular "Rockabilly" music he made famous. We had dinner there on Thursday evening. What a great time!



Yours truly posing with Elvis

Friday morning we were BOB'd (Butts on Bikes) at 8:00 for our ride into Death Valley.


Our fearless leader was concerned about the weather. We really wanted to go over Walkers Pass, if only the weather would cooperate. An early morning check with the Ca. DOT showed that 178 was open with no restrictions. So, off we went even though we could clearly see weather to the East.

The Route for Day 2 - into the valley via Randsburg and Walkers Pass:


The ride up the pass was pretty uneventful other than it being quite chilly and a light rain.

Some shots of the ride up to Lake Isabella -





By the time we got to Lake Isabella the rain had indeed turned to Snow Flurries that was very wet and melted as soon as it touched anything. Heartened by the lack of snow or Ice on the road we proceeded down to Ca14 for a quick ride down to the Randsburg cutoff for our first scheduled stop of the day.










Randsburg is a working ghost town. Today, 200 hardy souls keep the town alive. At it's heyday over 2500 people called the town home. Mining is still done in the hills around town, but the former Rand mine (originally called the Astor, and the largest mine in the Mojave) no longer is in existence. Instead tin and tungsten is being mined today. The Saloon / resurant was closed! Glad we had a big breakfast that morning :-)







We proceeded back to higway 178 and rode on into Trona for a final gas stop before heading through the Panamint Valley, to 190 and our ride into Stovepipe Wells.

Trona, located on the edge of Searles Valley was officially established in 1913 as a wholly owned mining town, and takes its name from the mineral Trona which is found in abundance in Searles Dry Lake.



The area is known for it's huge reserves of Potassium and Sodium and the minerals of carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide. Trona's best years were during WW1 as it had the only reliable source for Potash - an important element in the manufacture of Gunpowder. Although known for its "Isolation and Desolation" it should also be noted that Hollywood has discovered the town and has filmed "The Planet of the Apes" and "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" as well as others in the area.

Leaving Trona we soon find the end of highway 178 and the beginning of the "Panamint Springs Road". We climbed to an elevation of about 5000 feet and begin our stunning descent into Panamint Valley.





The 65 mile long and 10 mile wide Panamint Valley gives us our first hint of what to expect the rest of the day on our way to 190 where we will turn East for the final leg of our journey into Death Valley. Panamint Valley is used extensively by the Military as part of it's R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex. It is possible to view the Aircraft operations from several spots along Highway 190 at the Northern end of the Valley. The other interesting thing to note about Panamint is that the Barker Ranch where Charles Manson was finally arrested in 1969 is at the Southern end of the Valley.


"Panamint Spring Road" AKA Highway 178 dead ends at. To the left of this intersection is the town of Panamint Springs and to the right is Towne Pass (4,954 Ft.) and our home base of Furnace Creek in Death Valley (-184 Ft.). We turned East and headed for Towne Pass.


The ride up and over was beautiful, the air crisp and cool with perfect visibility. The ride down and into Stovepipe Wells never ceases to amaze me - it's like a long straight shot down from about 3500 ' to sea level. There are no switch backs, no significant turns, just a nice gradual descent. We stopped in Stovepipe Wells for Lunch. I couldn't eat all of my chiliburger! The food was good, and there was lots of friendly conversation. After lunch we rode the last 40 miles into Furnace Creek where we agreed that after we got checked in and settled we would meet again at 5:00 for a ride down to Badwater. The rooms at Funace Creek Ranch are pretty basic motel rooms, but at nearly $200.00 a night it can get expensive to spend any real time there. Camping is available for a very reasonable price.

Death Valley was established on Febuary 11, 1933. It covers nearly 3000 square miles, is recognized as the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, also one of the hottest place on earth (134 degrees at Furnace Creek in 1913 - second only to 136 degrees in Lybia in 1936-). In 1849 the first Americans entered Death Valley. A grim name for a Grim time in Death Valley's history as more and more "49'ers" tried to conquer the valley and its surrounding montains on their way to the California Gold Fields.

The group met at the appointed time and we headed to Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. It's ironic that the highest spot (Mt. Whitney 14,505 Ft) in the Western Hemisphere is only 76 miles west of Badwater.













The salt pan is between 3 and 5 feet thick! Now that's a lot of table salt!






Heading back toward Furnace Creek we took the Artists Palette loop. The route winds around an alevual fan that has beautiful and striking colors. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple).




We had another great dinner on Friday at the Wrangler Steakhouse in Furnace Creek. Saturday morning arrived and we discovered that our leader had become ill during the night and decided that his best bet at getting healthy again was to head for home, so we had to make do without him.



I think we did alright! Our first stop of the day was to ride to Zabriskie Point and partake in its offered view. It is one of my favorite spots in the whole park, as the erosional landscpe is stunning. The whole group of us agreed that this was a definate highlight of the trip. 


















To better understand the area and it's history we took the ride to Rhyolite, Nv. just outside of Beatty, Nv. on Nevada 374. Rhyolite is a ghost town, and was the principal town in the Bullfrog Mining District, in its heyday it boasted a population of over 8000 people. It was the third largest city in Nevada. Mining in and around Death Valley was a very important part of its history and development. Death Valley actually got it's name from folks trying to cross the valley to get to the California gold fields after the gold gave out in Nevada. Rhyolite is the home of the Kelly Bottle house. This house was one of three in the town, it is the only one remaining. It took Mr. Kelly 5 1/2 months to construct the house and has over 30,000 bottles in it (most of which are beer bottles (But from the early 1900's)). The town was named Rhyolite after the stone found in abundance in the area, which contined the gold the settlers were actually after.



















From Rhyolite we proceeded through Beatty to US95 where we headed North to Scottys Junction (US95 and Nevada 267) where we headed West again and back into the Valley with a stop and tour of Scottys Castle. The story of Scotty's Castle is very interesting. Interesting in that the building was actually constructed by a Chicago multi millionaire by the name of Albert Johnson who built the original home (named Death Valley Ranch) for health reasons. The home eventually became known as Scotty's castle mainly by the shamelss self promoting con-man extrordinair Walter E. Scott who bamboozled and schmoozed his way into the lives of the Johnsons. He eventually got the name of Death Valley Scotty. You can read all about this colorful character here - http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/june/..._dvscotty.html . A brief lunch before our tour of the castle kept our energy up.

Here's a couple of shots of the Castle. This is a favorite stop for park visitors.








From Scottys Castle it's a short hop to the Ubehebe Crater. This crater was caused by an exposion of steam. Hot lava rose to ground water level through a fault along the Western base of Tin Mountain some 2000 years ago. It is some 770 feet deep and 2500 feet in diameter. There is a paved, albeit very rough, road from Nevada-267 to a parking and viewing area. Ubehebe is one of many hydrovolcanic craters found in the Northern end of Death Valley. It is also the largest in the valley. Saturday's afternoon was waining by the time we wound our way back down to the valley floor and made our final stop of the day at the Harmony Borax Works, just before Furnace Creek. This quick and easy interpretive walk talks about how borax was harvested. At its peak the Harmony employed 40 men, and they created the foundation of modern day Furnace Creek Ranch. Harmony processed 3 Tons of Borax a day. The "Cotton ball" ore was composed of borate minerals (ulexite and proberite). To produce the borax the ore was disolved in boiling water and then cooled and allowed to percipitate out. Once the ore had been processed into Borax it was loaded into carts and towed (By the famous 20 mule team) to Boron Ca. where the nearest train was. The difficulty was that during Death Valley's hottest days the water was so hot the borax remained in solution, never percipitating out. The plant would have to shut down during these hot months to wait for cooler temeratures in the fall. This plant was in operation from 1893 to 1899.





After we left Hamony severl folks went through the Borax Museum. It is there were visitors will learn of the extensive mining operations in and around Death Valley, and the difficulties involved in moving that material out of the valley. Well worth the visit when there.




Our Saturday ended with another high quality meal at the steakhouse, and an agreement that those of us riding home on Sunday would meet in the parking lot at and be ready to ride at 7:30 AM.

Our route home on Sunday:



The ride home on Sunday took us back across Ca 190 to US 395 to Ca14 to US58 to I-5 and ultimately back to our cozy homes very much the richer after experiencing of Death Valley. The ride was eventfull in that we encoutered severe cross winds on 395 and on 58 both. One of our friends said at our lunch stop that we were all now certified cross wind riders. Gusting to 60 miles and hour for over an hour at at time was certianly some interesting riding!

We saw the highlights of Death Valley but there is just so much more to see. Sights like the Natural Bridge, Wildrose Canyon, Salt Creek, Panamint Springs, Golden Canyon, Dantes View, Corkscrew Mountain, Mosaic Canyon, Titus Canyon and more will have to wait for our next trip.

Till next - keep the shiny side up!
Jim and Lynda.

I've made a habit of riding to Death Valley each spring. I usually try to go in mid March. This year a friend and fellow motorcycle chapter member suggested that we do a chapter ride and spend the weekend there over the 24th and 25th of Feburary. From December 16th when the ride was proposed till the day we all met up for the ride we garnered a total of 13 members on 9 bikes. Only 3 of us had ever been to the valley before! I'm constantly amazed at how many folks are eager to experience a long ride like this is especially when the whole experience is new. The plan changed over the last 6 weeks or so also. We decided to take a more leisurely approach to the weekend by padding it with a couple of extra days.

So Thursday a fair sized group met at the MickyD's on Santa Rita Road for a 1:00 PM departure to our first nights lodging in Bakersfield at the Crystal Palace Best Western. We were going to meet the rest of the chapter in Death Valley on Friday.

Say hi to Dale, Pat, Bob, Lynda and myself, and Linda and Rich:


The route planned was to ride as quickly as possible South, so I-5 was to play a major part of it. Friday's ride into the valley was discussed at length Thursday because the desired route was to ride over Walkers Pass on 178 but at 5000 feet with unpredictable weather we wanted to have a plan "B" or even a "C".

The Route for day 1:


For those of you that don't know about the Crystal Palace, it's a landmark in Bakersfield thanks to country western star Buck Owens. It seems that Buck, who called Bakersfield home ever since the 50's, wanted a place to store all of his memorabilia, and a place to provide entertainment and food and dancing for the fine folks of the area. He built the Crystal Palace where he and his band played and sang the popular "Rockabilly" music he made famous. We had dinner there on Thursday evening. What a great time!



Yours truly posing with Elvis

Friday morning we were BOB'd (Butts on Bikes) at 8:00 for our ride into Death Valley.


Our fearless leader was concerned about the weather. We really wanted to go over Walkers Pass, if only the weather would cooperate. An early morning check with the Ca. DOT showed that 178 was open with no restrictions. So, off we went even though we could clearly see weather to the East.

The Route for Day 2 - into the valley via Randsburg and Walkers Pass:


The ride up the pass was pretty uneventful other than it being quite chilly and a light rain.

Some shots of the ride up to Lake Isabella -





By the time we got to Lake Isabella the rain had indeed turned to Snow Flurries that was very wet and melted as soon as it touched anything. Heartened by the lack of snow or Ice on the road we proceeded down to Ca14 for a quick ride down to the Randsburg cutoff for our first scheduled stop of the day.










Randsburg is a working ghost town. Today, 200 hardy souls keep the town alive. At it's heyday over 2500 people called the town home. Mining is still done in the hills around town, but the former Rand mine (originally called the Astor, and the largest mine in the Mojave) no longer is in existence. Instead tin and tungsten is being mined today. The Saloon / resurant was closed! Glad we had a big breakfast that morning :-)







We proceeded back to higway 178 and rode on into Trona for a final gas stop before heading through the Panamint Valley, to 190 and our ride into Stovepipe Wells.

Trona, located on the edge of Searles Valley was officially established in 1913 as a wholly owned mining town, and takes its name from the mineral Trona which is found in abundance in Searles Dry Lake.



The area is known for it's huge reserves of Potassium and Sodium and the minerals of carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide. Trona's best years were during WW1 as it had the only reliable source for Potash - an important element in the manufacture of Gunpowder. Although known for its "Isolation and Desolation" it should also be noted that Hollywood has discovered the town and has filmed "The Planet of the Apes" and "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" as well as others in the area.

Leaving Trona we soon find the end of highway 178 and the beginning of the "Panamint Springs Road". We climbed to an elevation of about 5000 feet and begin our stunning descent into Panamint Valley.





The 65 mile long and 10 mile wide Panamint Valley gives us our first hint of what to expect the rest of the day on our way to 190 where we will turn East for the final leg of our journey into Death Valley. Panamint Valley is used extensively by the Military as part of it's R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex. It is possible to view the Aircraft operations from several spots along Highway 190 at the Northern end of the Valley. The other interesting thing to note about Panamint is that the Barker Ranch where Charles Manson was finally arrested in 1969 is at the Southern end of the Valley.


"Panamint Spring Road" AKA Highway 178 dead ends at. To the left of this intersection is the town of Panamint Springs and to the right is Towne Pass (4,954 Ft.) and our home base of Furnace Creek in Death Valley (-184 Ft.). We turned East and headed for Towne Pass.


The ride up and over was beautiful, the air crisp and cool with perfect visibility. The ride down and into Stovepipe Wells never ceases to amaze me - it's like a long straight shot down from about 3500 ' to sea level. There are no switch backs, no significant turns, just a nice gradual descent. We stopped in Stovepipe Wells for Lunch. I couldn't eat all of my chiliburger! The food was good, and there was lots of friendly conversation. After lunch we rode the last 40 miles into Furnace Creek where we agreed that after we got checked in and settled we would meet again at 5:00 for a ride down to Badwater. The rooms at Funace Creek Ranch are pretty basic motel rooms, but at nearly $200.00 a night it can get expensive to spend any real time there. Camping is available for a very reasonable price.

Death Valley was established on Febuary 11, 1933. It covers nearly 3000 square miles, is recognized as the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, also one of the hottest place on earth (134 degrees at Furnace Creek in 1913 - second only to 136 degrees in Lybia in 1936-). In 1849 the first Americans entered Death Valley. A grim name for a Grim time in Death Valley's history as more and more "49'ers" tried to conquer the valley and its surrounding montains on their way to the California Gold Fields.

The group met at the appointed time and we headed to Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. It's ironic that the highest spot (Mt. Whitney 14,505 Ft) in the Western Hemisphere is only 76 miles west of Badwater.













The salt pan is between 3 and 5 feet thick! Now that's a lot of table salt!






Heading back toward Furnace Creek we took the Artists Palette loop. The route winds around an alevual fan that has beautiful and striking colors. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple).




We had another great dinner on Friday at the Wrangler Steakhouse in Furnace Creek. Saturday morning arrived and we discovered that our leader had become ill during the night and decided that his best bet at getting healthy again was to head for home, so we had to make do without him.



I think we did alright! Our first stop of the day was to ride to Zabriskie Point and partake in its offered view. It is one of my favorite spots in the whole park, as the erosional landscpe is stunning. The whole group of us agreed that this was a definate highlight of the trip. 


















To better understand the area and it's history we took the ride to Rhyolite, Nv. just outside of Beatty, Nv. on Nevada 374. Rhyolite is a ghost town, and was the principal town in the Bullfrog Mining District, in its heyday it boasted a population of over 8000 people. It was the third largest city in Nevada. Mining in and around Death Valley was a very important part of its history and development. Death Valley actually got it's name from folks trying to cross the valley to get to the California gold fields after the gold gave out in Nevada. Rhyolite is the home of the Kelly Bottle house. This house was one of three in the town, it is the only one remaining. It took Mr. Kelly 5 1/2 months to construct the house and has over 30,000 bottles in it (most of which are beer bottles (But from the early 1900's)). The town was named Rhyolite after the stone found in abundance in the area, which contined the gold the settlers were actually after.



















From Rhyolite we proceeded through Beatty to US95 where we headed North to Scottys Junction (US95 and Nevada 267) where we headed West again and back into the Valley with a stop and tour of Scottys Castle. The story of Scotty's Castle is very interesting. Interesting in that the building was actually constructed by a Chicago multi millionaire by the name of Albert Johnson who built the original home (named Death Valley Ranch) for health reasons. The home eventually became known as Scotty's castle mainly by the shamelss self promoting con-man extrordinair Walter E. Scott who bamboozled and schmoozed his way into the lives of the Johnsons. He eventually got the name of Death Valley Scotty. You can read all about this colorful character here - http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/june/..._dvscotty.html . A brief lunch before our tour of the castle kept our energy up.

Here's a couple of shots of the Castle. This is a favorite stop for park visitors.








From Scottys Castle it's a short hop to the Ubehebe Crater. This crater was caused by an exposion of steam. Hot lava rose to ground water level through a fault along the Western base of Tin Mountain some 2000 years ago. It is some 770 feet deep and 2500 feet in diameter. There is a paved, albeit very rough, road from Nevada-267 to a parking and viewing area. Ubehebe is one of many hydrovolcanic craters found in the Northern end of Death Valley. It is also the largest in the valley. Saturday's afternoon was waining by the time we wound our way back down to the valley floor and made our final stop of the day at the Harmony Borax Works, just before Furnace Creek. This quick and easy interpretive walk talks about how borax was harvested. At its peak the Harmony employed 40 men, and they created the foundation of modern day Furnace Creek Ranch. Harmony processed 3 Tons of Borax a day. The "Cotton ball" ore was composed of borate minerals (ulexite and proberite). To produce the borax the ore was disolved in boiling water and then cooled and allowed to percipitate out. Once the ore had been processed into Borax it was loaded into carts and towed (By the famous 20 mule team) to Boron Ca. where the nearest train was. The difficulty was that during Death Valley's hottest days the water was so hot the borax remained in solution, never percipitating out. The plant would have to shut down during these hot months to wait for cooler temeratures in the fall. This plant was in operation from 1893 to 1899.





After we left Hamony severl folks went through the Borax Museum. It is there were visitors will learn of the extensive mining operations in and around Death Valley, and the difficulties involved in moving that material out of the valley. Well worth the visit when there.




Our Saturday ended with another high quality meal at the steakhouse, and an agreement that those of us riding home on Sunday would meet in the parking lot at and be ready to ride at 7:30 AM.

Our route home on Sunday:



The ride home on Sunday took us back across Ca 190 to US 395 to Ca14 to US58 to I-5 and ultimately back to our cozy homes very much the richer after experiencing of Death Valley. The ride was eventfull in that we encoutered severe cross winds on 395 and on 58 both. One of our friends said at our lunch stop that we were all now certified cross wind riders. Gusting to 60 miles and hour for over an hour at at time was certianly some interesting riding!

We saw the highlights of Death Valley but there is just so much more to see. Sights like the Natural Bridge, Wildrose Canyon, Salt Creek, Panamint Springs, Golden Canyon, Dantes View, Corkscrew Mountain, Mosaic Canyon, Titus Canyon and more will have to wait for our next trip.

Till next - keep the shiny side up!
Jim and Lynda.

I've made a habit of riding to Death Valley each spring. I usually try to go in mid March. This year a friend and fellow motorcycle chapter member suggested that we do a chapter ride and spend the weekend there over the 24th and 25th of Feburary. From December 16th when the ride was proposed till the day we all met up for the ride we garnered a total of 13 members on 9 bikes. Only 3 of us had ever been to the valley before! I'm constantly amazed at how many folks are eager to experience a long ride like this is especially when the whole experience is new. The plan changed over the last 6 weeks or so also. We decided to take a more leisurely approach to the weekend by padding it with a couple of extra days.

So Thursday a fair sized group met at the MickyD's on Santa Rita Road for a 1:00 PM departure to our first nights lodging in Bakersfield at the Crystal Palace Best Western. We were going to meet the rest of the chapter in Death Valley on Friday.

Say hi to Dale, Pat, Bob, Lynda and myself, and Linda and Rich:


The route planned was to ride as quickly as possible South, so I-5 was to play a major part of it. Friday's ride into the valley was discussed at length Thursday because the desired route was to ride over Walkers Pass on 178 but at 5000 feet with unpredictable weather we wanted to have a plan "B" or even a "C".

The Route for day 1:


For those of you that don't know about the Crystal Palace, it's a landmark in Bakersfield thanks to country western star Buck Owens. It seems that Buck, who called Bakersfield home ever since the 50's, wanted a place to store all of his memorabilia, and a place to provide entertainment and food and dancing for the fine folks of the area. He built the Crystal Palace where he and his band played and sang the popular "Rockabilly" music he made famous. We had dinner there on Thursday evening. What a great time!



Yours truly posing with Elvis

Friday morning we were BOB'd (Butts on Bikes) at 8:00 for our ride into Death Valley.


Our fearless leader was concerned about the weather. We really wanted to go over Walkers Pass, if only the weather would cooperate. An early morning check with the Ca. DOT showed that 178 was open with no restrictions. So, off we went even though we could clearly see weather to the East.

The Route for Day 2 - into the valley via Randsburg and Walkers Pass:


The ride up the pass was pretty uneventful other than it being quite chilly and a light rain.

Some shots of the ride up to Lake Isabella -





By the time we got to Lake Isabella the rain had indeed turned to Snow Flurries that was very wet and melted as soon as it touched anything. Heartened by the lack of snow or Ice on the road we proceeded down to Ca14 for a quick ride down to the Randsburg cutoff for our first scheduled stop of the day.










Randsburg is a working ghost town. Today, 200 hardy souls keep the town alive. At it's heyday over 2500 people called the town home. Mining is still done in the hills around town, but the former Rand mine (originally called the Astor, and the largest mine in the Mojave) no longer is in existence. Instead tin and tungsten is being mined today. The Saloon / resurant was closed! Glad we had a big breakfast that morning :-)







We proceeded back to higway 178 and rode on into Trona for a final gas stop before heading through the Panamint Valley, to 190 and our ride into Stovepipe Wells.

Trona, located on the edge of Searles Valley was officially established in 1913 as a wholly owned mining town, and takes its name from the mineral Trona which is found in abundance in Searles Dry Lake.



The area is known for it's huge reserves of Potassium and Sodium and the minerals of carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide. Trona's best years were during WW1 as it had the only reliable source for Potash - an important element in the manufacture of Gunpowder. Although known for its "Isolation and Desolation" it should also be noted that Hollywood has discovered the town and has filmed "The Planet of the Apes" and "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" as well as others in the area.

Leaving Trona we soon find the end of highway 178 and the beginning of the "Panamint Springs Road". We climbed to an elevation of about 5000 feet and begin our stunning descent into Panamint Valley.





The 65 mile long and 10 mile wide Panamint Valley gives us our first hint of what to expect the rest of the day on our way to 190 where we will turn East for the final leg of our journey into Death Valley. Panamint Valley is used extensively by the Military as part of it's R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex. It is possible to view the Aircraft operations from several spots along Highway 190 at the Northern end of the Valley. The other interesting thing to note about Panamint is that the Barker Ranch where Charles Manson was finally arrested in 1969 is at the Southern end of the Valley.


"Panamint Spring Road" AKA Highway 178 dead ends at. To the left of this intersection is the town of Panamint Springs and to the right is Towne Pass (4,954 Ft.) and our home base of Furnace Creek in Death Valley (-184 Ft.). We turned East and headed for Towne Pass.


The ride up and over was beautiful, the air crisp and cool with perfect visibility. The ride down and into Stovepipe Wells never ceases to amaze me - it's like a long straight shot down from about 3500 ' to sea level. There are no switch backs, no significant turns, just a nice gradual descent. We stopped in Stovepipe Wells for Lunch. I couldn't eat all of my chiliburger! The food was good, and there was lots of friendly conversation. After lunch we rode the last 40 miles into Furnace Creek where we agreed that after we got checked in and settled we would meet again at 5:00 for a ride down to Badwater. The rooms at Funace Creek Ranch are pretty basic motel rooms, but at nearly $200.00 a night it can get expensive to spend any real time there. Camping is available for a very reasonable price.

Death Valley was established on Febuary 11, 1933. It covers nearly 3000 square miles, is recognized as the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, also one of the hottest place on earth (134 degrees at Furnace Creek in 1913 - second only to 136 degrees in Lybia in 1936-). In 1849 the first Americans entered Death Valley. A grim name for a Grim time in Death Valley's history as more and more "49'ers" tried to conquer the valley and its surrounding montains on their way to the California Gold Fields.

The group met at the appointed time and we headed to Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. It's ironic that the highest spot (Mt. Whitney 14,505 Ft) in the Western Hemisphere is only 76 miles west of Badwater.













The salt pan is between 3 and 5 feet thick! Now that's a lot of table salt!






Heading back toward Furnace Creek we took the Artists Palette loop. The route winds around an alevual fan that has beautiful and striking colors. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple).




We had another great dinner on Friday at the Wrangler Steakhouse in Furnace Creek. Saturday morning arrived and we discovered that our leader had become ill during the night and decided that his best bet at getting healthy again was to head for home, so we had to make do without him.



I think we did alright! Our first stop of the day was to ride to Zabriskie Point and partake in its offered view. It is one of my favorite spots in the whole park, as the erosional landscpe is stunning. The whole group of us agreed that this was a definate highlight of the trip. 


















To better understand the area and it's history we took the ride to Rhyolite, Nv. just outside of Beatty, Nv. on Nevada 374. Rhyolite is a ghost town, and was the principal town in the Bullfrog Mining District, in its heyday it boasted a population of over 8000 people. It was the third largest city in Nevada. Mining in and around Death Valley was a very important part of its history and development. Death Valley actually got it's name from folks trying to cross the valley to get to the California gold fields after the gold gave out in Nevada. Rhyolite is the home of the Kelly Bottle house. This house was one of three in the town, it is the only one remaining. It took Mr. Kelly 5 1/2 months to construct the house and has over 30,000 bottles in it (most of which are beer bottles (But from the early 1900's)). The town was named Rhyolite after the stone found in abundance in the area, which contined the gold the settlers were actually after.



















From Rhyolite we proceeded through Beatty to US95 where we headed North to Scottys Junction (US95 and Nevada 267) where we headed West again and back into the Valley with a stop and tour of Scottys Castle. The story of Scotty's Castle is very interesting. Interesting in that the building was actually constructed by a Chicago multi millionaire by the name of Albert Johnson who built the original home (named Death Valley Ranch) for health reasons. The home eventually became known as Scotty's castle mainly by the shamelss self promoting con-man extrordinair Walter E. Scott who bamboozled and schmoozed his way into the lives of the Johnsons. He eventually got the name of Death Valley Scotty. You can read all about this colorful character here - http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/june/..._dvscotty.html . A brief lunch before our tour of the castle kept our energy up.

Here's a couple of shots of the Castle. This is a favorite stop for park visitors.








From Scottys Castle it's a short hop to the Ubehebe Crater. This crater was caused by an exposion of steam. Hot lava rose to ground water level through a fault along the Western base of Tin Mountain some 2000 years ago. It is some 770 feet deep and 2500 feet in diameter. There is a paved, albeit very rough, road from Nevada-267 to a parking and viewing area. Ubehebe is one of many hydrovolcanic craters found in the Northern end of Death Valley. It is also the largest in the valley. Saturday's afternoon was waining by the time we wound our way back down to the valley floor and made our final stop of the day at the Harmony Borax Works, just before Furnace Creek. This quick and easy interpretive walk talks about how borax was harvested. At its peak the Harmony employed 40 men, and they created the foundation of modern day Furnace Creek Ranch. Harmony processed 3 Tons of Borax a day. The "Cotton ball" ore was composed of borate minerals (ulexite and proberite). To produce the borax the ore was disolved in boiling water and then cooled and allowed to percipitate out. Once the ore had been processed into Borax it was loaded into carts and towed (By the famous 20 mule team) to Boron Ca. where the nearest train was. The difficulty was that during Death Valley's hottest days the water was so hot the borax remained in solution, never percipitating out. The plant would have to shut down during these hot months to wait for cooler temeratures in the fall. This plant was in operation from 1893 to 1899.





After we left Hamony severl folks went through the Borax Museum. It is there were visitors will learn of the extensive mining operations in and around Death Valley, and the difficulties involved in moving that material out of the valley. Well worth the visit when there.




Our Saturday ended with another high quality meal at the steakhouse, and an agreement that those of us riding home on Sunday would meet in the parking lot at and be ready to ride at 7:30 AM.

Our route home on Sunday:



The ride home on Sunday took us back across Ca 190 to US 395 to Ca14 to US58 to I-5 and ultimately back to our cozy homes very much the richer after experiencing of Death Valley. The ride was eventfull in that we encoutered severe cross winds on 395 and on 58 both. One of our friends said at our lunch stop that we were all now certified cross wind riders. Gusting to 60 miles and hour for over an hour at at time was certianly some interesting riding!

We saw the highlights of Death Valley but there is just so much more to see. Sights like the Natural Bridge, Wildrose Canyon, Salt Creek, Panamint Springs, Golden Canyon, Dantes View, Corkscrew Mountain, Mosaic Canyon, Titus Canyon and more will have to wait for our next trip.

Till next - keep the shiny side up!
Jim and Lynda.

I've made a habit of riding to Death Valley each spring. I usually try to go in mid March. This year a friend and fellow motorcycle chapter member suggested that we do a chapter ride and spend the weekend there over the 24th and 25th of February. From December 16th when the ride was proposed till the day we all met up for the ride we garnered a total of 13 members on 9 bikes. Only 3 of us had ever been to the valley before! I'm constantly amazed at how many folks are eager to experience a long ride like this is especially when the whole experience is new. The plan changed over the last 6 weeks or so also. We decided to take a more leisurely approach to the weekend by padding it with a couple of extra days.

So Thursday a fair sized group met at the MickyD's on Santa Rita Road for a 1:00 PM departure to our first nights lodging in Bakersfield at the Crystal Palace Best Western. We were going to meet the rest of the chapter in Death Valley on Friday.

The route planned was to ride as quickly as possible South, so I-5 was to play a major part of it. Friday's ride into the valley was discussed at length Thursday because the desired route was to ride over Walkers Pass on 178 but at 5000 feet with unpredictable weather we wanted to have a plan "B" or even a "C".

For those of you that don't know about the Crystal Palace, it's a landmark in Bakersfield thanks to country western star Buck Owens. It seems that Buck, who called Bakersfield home ever since the 50's, wanted a place to store all of his memorabilia, and a place to provide entertainment and food and dancing for the fine folks of the area. He built the Crystal Palace where he and his band played and sang the popular "Rockabilly" music he made famous. We had dinner there on Thursday evening. What a great time!

Friday morning we were BOB'd (Butts on Bikes) at 8:00 for our ride into Death Valley.

Our fearless leader was still concerned about the weather. We really wanted to go over Walkers Pass, if only the weather would cooperate. An early morning check with the Ca. DOT showed that 178 was open with no restrictions. So, off we went even though we could clearly see weather to the East.

The ride up the pass was pretty uneventful other than it being quite chilly and a light rain.

By the time we got to Lake Isabella the rain had indeed turned to Snow Flurries that was very wet and melted as soon as it touched anything. Heartened by the lack of snow or Ice on the road we proceeded down to Ca14 for a quick ride down to the Randsburg cutoff for our first scheduled stop of the day.

Randsburg is a working ghost town. Today, 200 hardy souls keep the town alive. At it's heyday over 2500 people called the town home. Mining is still done in the hills around town, but the former Rand mine (originally called the Astor, and the largest mine in the Mojave) no longer is in existence. Instead tin and tungsten is being mined today. The Saloon / restaurant was closed! Glad we had a big breakfast that morning :-)

We proceeded back to highway 178 and rode on into Trona for a final gas stop before heading through the Panamint Valley, to 190 and our ride into Stovepipe Wells.

Trona, located on the edge of Searles Valley was officially established in 1913 as a wholly owned mining town, and takes its name from the mineral Trona which is found in abundance in Searles Dry Lake.



The area is known for it's huge reserves of Potassium and Sodium and the minerals of carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide. Trona's best years were during WW1 as it had the only reliable source for Potash - an important element in the manufacture of Gunpowder. Although known for its "Isolation and Desolation" it should also be noted that Hollywood has discovered the town and has filmed "The Planet of the Apes" and "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" as well as others in the area.

Leaving Trona we soon find the end of highway 178 and the beginning of the "Panamint Springs Road". We climbed to an elevation of about 5000 feet and begin our stunning descent into Panamint Valley.

The 65 mile long and 10 mile wide Panamint Valley gives us our first hint of what to expect the rest of the day on our way to 190 where we will turn East for the final leg of our journey into Death Valley. Panamint Valley is used extensively by the Military as part of it's R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex. It is possible to view the Aircraft operations from several spots along
Highway 190 at the Northern end of the Valley. The other interesting thing to note about Panamint is that the Barker Ranch where Charles Manson was finally arrested in 1969 is at the Southern end of the Valley.

"Panamint Spring Road" AKA Highway 178 dead ends at
Highway 190. To the left of this intersection is the town of Panamint Springs and to the right is Towne Pass (4,954 Ft.) and our home base of Furnace Creek in Death Valley (-184 Ft.). We turned East and headed for Towne Pass.


The ride up and over was beautiful, the air crisp and cool with perfect visibility. The ride down and into Stovepipe Wells never ceases to amaze me - it's like a long straight shot down from about 3500 ' to sea level. There are no switch backs, no significant turns, just a nice gradual descent. We stopped in Stovepipe Wells for Lunch. I couldn't eat all of my chiliburger! The food was good, and there was lots of friendly conversation. After lunch we rode the last 40 miles into Furnace Creek where we agreed that after we got checked in and settled we would meet again at 5:00 for a ride down to Badwater. The rooms at Furnace Creek Ranch are pretty basic motel rooms, but at nearly $200.00 a night it can get expensive to spend any real time there. Camping is available for a very reasonable price.

Death Valley was established on February 11, 1933. It covers nearly 3000 square miles, is recognized as the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, also one of the hottest place on earth (134 degrees at Furnace Creek in 1913 - second only to 136 degrees in Lybia in 1936-). In 1849 the first Americans entered Death Valley. A grim name for a Grim time in Death Valley's history as more and more "49'ers" tried to conquer the valley and its surrounding mountains on their way to the California Gold Fields.

The group met at the appointed time and we headed to Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. It's ironic that the highest spot (Mt. Whitney 14,505 Ft) in the Western Hemisphere is only 76 miles west of Badwater.

The salt pan is between 3 and 5 feet thick! Now that's a lot of table salt!

Heading back toward Furnace Creek we took the Artists Palette loop. The route winds around an alluvial fan that has beautiful and striking colors. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple).

We had another great dinner on Friday at the Wrangler Steakhouse in Furnace Creek. Saturday morning arrived and we discovered that our leader had become ill during the night and decided that his best bet at getting healthy again was to head for home, so we had to make do without him.

I think we did alright! Our first stop of the day was to ride to Zabriskie Point and partake in its offered view. It is one of my favorite spots in the whole park, as the erosional landscape is stunning. The whole group of us agreed that this was a definite highlight of the trip.

To better understand the area and it's history we took the ride to Rhyolite, Nv. just outside of Beatty, Nv. on Nevada 374. Rhyolite is a ghost town, and was the principal town in the Bullfrog Mining District, in its heyday it boasted a population of over 8000 people. It was the third largest city in Nevada. Mining in and around Death Valley was a very important part of its history and development. Death Valley actually got it's name from folks trying to cross the valley to get to the California gold fields after the gold gave out in Nevada. Rhyolite is the home of the Kelly Bottle house. This house was one of three in the town, it is the only one remaining. It took Mr. Kelly 5 1/2 months to construct the house and has over 30,000 bottles in it (most of which are beer bottles (But from the early 1900's)). The town was named Rhyolite after the stone found in abundance in the area, which contained the gold the settlers were actually after.

From Rhyolite we proceeded through Beatty to US95 where we headed North to Scotty’s Junction (US95 and Nevada 267) where we headed West again and back into the Valley with a stop and tour of Scotty’s Castle. The story of Scotty's Castle is very interesting. Interesting in that the building was actually constructed by a Chicago multi millionaire by the name of Albert Johnson who built the original home (named Death Valley Ranch) for health reasons. The home eventually became known as Scotty's castle mainly by the shameless self promoting con-man extraordinaire Walter E. Scott who bamboozled and schmoozed his way into the lives of the Johnson’s. He eventually got the name of Death Valley Scotty. You can read all about this colorful character here -
http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/june/..._dvscotty.html . A brief lunch before our tour of the castle kept our energy up. This is a favorite stop for park visitors.

From Scotty’s Castle it's a short hop to the Ubehebe Crater. This crater was caused by an explosion of steam. Hot lava rose to ground water level through a fault along the Western base of Tin Mountain some 2000 years ago. It is some 770 feet deep and 2500 feet in diameter. There is a paved, albeit very rough, road from Nevada-267 to a parking and viewing area. Ubehebe is one of many hydrovolcanic craters found in the Northern end of Death Valley. It is also the largest in the valley.

Saturday's afternoon was waning by the time we wound our way back down to the valley floor and made our final stop of the day at the Harmony Borax Works on
Highway 190, just before Furnace Creek. This quick and easy interpretive walk talks about how borax was harvested. At its peak the Harmony employed 40 men, and they created the foundation of modern day Furnace Creek Ranch. Harmony processed 3 Tons of Borax a day. The "Cotton ball" ore was composed of borate minerals (ulexite and proberite). To produce the borax the ore was dissolved in boiling water and then cooled and allowed to precipitate out. Once the ore had been processed into Borax it was loaded into carts and towed (By the famous 20 mule team) to Boron Ca. where the nearest train was. The difficulty was that during Death Valley's hottest days the water was so hot the borax remained in solution, never precipitating out. The plant would have to shut down during these hot months to wait for cooler temperatures in the fall. This plant was in operation from 1893 to 1899.

After we left Harmony several folks went through the Borax Museum. It is there were visitors will learn of the extensive mining operations in and around Death Valley, and the difficulties involved in moving that material out of the valley. Well worth the visit when there.

Our Saturday ended with another high quality meal at the steakhouse, and an agreement that those of us riding home on Sunday would meet in the parking lot at and be ready to ride at 7:30 AM.

The ride home on Sunday took us back across Ca 190 to US 395 to Ca14 to US58 to I-5 and ultimately back to our cozy homes very much the richer after experiencing of Death Valley. The ride was eventful in that we encountered severe cross winds on 395 and on 58 both. One of our friends said at our lunch stop that we were all now certified cross wind riders. Gusting to 60 miles and hour for over an hour at times was certainly some interesting riding!

We saw the highlights of Death Valley but there is just so much more to see. Sights like the Natural Bridge, Wildrose Canyon, Salt Creek, Panamint Springs, Golden Canyon, Dante’s View, Corkscrew Mountain, Mosaic Canyon, Titus Canyon and more will have to wait for our next trip.

Till next - keep the shiny side up!
Jim and Lynda.