Death Valley

Blog Post

At the entrance to salt mine. I did drive in, but
my courage failed me about 1/4 mile into the mine and I backed out.

Technically in Death Valley with Mt. Whitney, CA in B/G.

Death Valley is one of those places that people hear of, but not many people experience. It’s about to undergo something remarkable: A Super Bloom – watch here.

There are a number of cabins in Death Valley that are first-come, first served, free to stay at. People and clubs ‘adopt them’. Usually there is a sign-in book and an expectation that you will leave the cabin the same way that you found it. Boxcar Cabin is one of those.  

I usually prefer to sleep in my truck rather than stay in a cabin when I’m out and exploring Death Valley.  But sometimes I  break my rule.
Barker Ranch Cabin, used by Charles Manson and the Manson Family
back when they were sacrificing young women and so forth. Not a cabin
you’d want to spend the night in. It’s near Ballarat.
I don’t know the name of this cabin, but I spent the night here
Inside of the cabin. Note it has a new roll-out bed. I never use the
cabin mattresses. Just put my sleeping pad and sleeping bag on the
springs. In this case, it worked out.
Too “rustic” to overnight in if you can sleep in the rig.
Skull Rock – used by Indians as a holy place. It’s well off the
beaten path. Not often hiked to (if at all) by tourists.
There is a lot of “desert art” in Death Valley and across the desert.
Most of it is very interesting. People just put it up to be putting it up.

There is also tea kettle junction in Death Valley and the mail box on
the Mojave Road.

It’s more fun to explore when there is a group, but going it alone
works as well. It depends on what you’re looking for – or not
looking for. LL in this photo, acting as “guide”.
If you’re going to Death Valley, best that you go prepared. The area is HUGE and there are not that many opportunities to find fuel. I have the standard 19 gallon tank in the Toyota FJ, an additional 22 gallon auxiliary tank that I had fabricated custom for the rig, and an additional 5-10 gallons  on the rear bumper.
(Right) You see my load-out in the back of the rig. I keep the ice chest, food, etc. in the back seat of the truck. You need water and you need canteens if you break down and need to walk out. A map, compass, handgun, MRE’s and a sleeping bag should accompany you on your hike that could easily last more than one day. Distances in Death Valley are vast and it can get very cold there at night. Conversely it can get warm during the day.
There is Death Valley National Park (small) and Death Valley, which is several hundred miles long and a couple hundred miles wide and incorporates several mountain ranges. The one thing you learn about Death Valley by visiting is that there is a LOT of fresh, sweet water in Death Valley. It was that water that sustained a lot of mining ventures that took place there over 100 years. 
If you ever plan to visit, you need to get a book on the history of Death Valley and a contemporary guide book so that you don’t flail around and get lost. That happens. People still die in Death Valley.

16 thoughts on “Death Valley

  1. I WANT to go to Death Valley. I WANT to sleep in a boxcar cabin and I WANT to steal your truck. Fun! And a brilliant photo opportunity. You do some cool stuff, LL.

  2. They call it Death Valley for a reason. There's all kinds of places to perish there, like the Funeral Mountains and Furnace Creek.

    Me, I kind of like Cancun, but that's just me.

  3. I was just reading about Death Valley (archeology/history) — I've always wanted to explore there. A 4×4 looks handy; an extended horse expedition might be neat too.

  4. …And an umbrella drink… Or across the channel to Cozumel and a drift dive along Palancar Reef. I get your point. Bought that t-shirt too.

    There are a great number of interesting things to do in the Death Valley area, and always better to have more than one rig for the trip. I don't go there in high summer.

  5. It's definitely not a place where people put plastic yellow ducks in the river in the form of a lottery…mostly quite unsettled despite 150 years of "civilization" in the Valley. And you really don't want to be there during weather extremes. I don't have photos of a trip there in the winter when I encountered 1 foot of snow in the Panamint range and got stuck.

    It's a place of extremes.

  6. You can do it on a horse, better with a mule, and while I'm not opposed to either, you'd be hard pressed to feed them in places like Titus Canyon — or the Amarosa Valley. That's the real problem that you'd face and it's the problem that the miners and explorers faced. Most of the Indians who lived there were afoot because though they stole the White Man's mounts, they ate them.

  7. You clearly aren't in Texas anymore when you're in that part of the country… I know that Texans are tough, etc. But the Sierras broke a lot of Texans, and people from everywhere else. The Comanche owned Texas but the Indians in this place were far fewer and were not strengthened by the land anymore than the prospectors were. One of the only things that really paid in this part of the world (unless you went further west to the Comstock and the big gold and silver claims) was Borax of all things.

  8. "There be skeletons all along this range of people he kilt. Kilt five thieves up on the Comstock in one nasty morning.” Sorry, couldn't help it.

  9. I think yellow plastic ducks could be introduced for the novelty factor. If you come back from Death Valley with one you win the £50.00.

  10. Impressive expedition, to say the least! I wonder if there's a book of photos of the of the desert art.

  11. There must be.

    Though some of it is temporary. The National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management tear a lot of it down. I know of a number of situations where that happened. The Mojave Road, for example, had a spot where people would bring a gnome (regular garden gnome) and would leave them here or there in creative ways. We're talking maybe a 10'x10' area. BLM considered it trash. Consider that at most, 100 people in 4×4's pass that way each year — it's not highly traveled. Just desert art that people are surprised (and delighted) by. Almost always very artsy but cool.

  12. The desert art intrigues me. Always enjoy that sort of thing.
    Great pics, looks like you had a good time, Yahoo!

  13. Too bad about them "uninstalling" the art… I don't see much point in treating the Death Valley with the rigidity of an HOA rulebook, so long as the art isn't hurting the land.

    I was trail biking in a Northeast corner of Dallas the other day and came upon a faded red and yellow push car (commonly used by toddlers– you'd recognize one) perched on a fallen tree stump, apparently being driven by a crazed and nasty witch doll. A man had gotten off his bike and was taking a photo; he announced excitedly as I passed that he found "Dorbella" (play on the name of the grassroots group, DORBA, that keeps up these biking trails). I gathered it is a known piece of art.
    The whole thing made me smile. Austin was full of this kind of weird expression. It's kinda fun, I think. Builds community amongst strangers.

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