Saturday, April 15, 2017

Death Valley National Park Part 3

Death Valley NP is an amazing place. If you would have asked me what Death Valley was all about before we had been there, I would have told you it is the hottest and driest place in North America. I would of course been right, but it is so much more. The center of the park is the deep valley that contains the lowest elevation in the US, but surrounding the valley are beautiful mountains. It snows and rains up in the mountains on a regular basis and the water comes down the mountains creating awesome canyons through the rocks. You can leave the valley floor on a hot day and be up in the shade and altitude of the canyons in a short time and be enjoying very comfortable temperatures and amazing scenery.

We had only scratched the surface of this awesome place while we were there. We were sitting outside our rig on the second to last night when our neighbors, Scott and Donna came over to talk. They have been coming to Death Valley for a long time and filled us in on why they keep coming back. A street legal vehicle is essential for exploring the park. Non licensed vehicles are not allowed. Scott has a FJ Cruiser and that is perfect for many of the rough roads.

Death Valley NP is also a haven for Dual Sport Motorcycle riders. The back roads are endless and you can find everything from mild to wild when it comes to difficulty.

I decided I could not leave this place without going for a ride up into the mountains and down one of the canyons. I chose Titus Canyon. It is a one way road that winds through the mountains and then goes by a ghost town and then passes through a deep canyon. This route is heavily used, so I would not find much solitude, but when riding by myself, that is not a bad thing. I estimated the ride at about 80 miles. I filled my gas tank and headed out.

It was just after 10:00 AM when I left the valley floor. It was already getting warm and I questioned whether or not to wear my riding jacket. The first 30 miles was all pavement, but still was beautiful and challenging. The wind came up and was blowing over 40 MPH. It was all I could do to hold it on the road. I slowed down and soldiered on. I climbed and climbed until I went over the 4316 foot summit of Daylight pass. The air was clear and cool. I was glad I had my jacket on. The wind died significantly on the back side of the pass. I came to the point where I left the state of California and entered Nevada. I also left the NP for about 3 miles. Then I hit a dirt road and road back into the NP and California. The road was fairly strait and flat for the first 7 or 8 miles. I was thinking this was not going to take very long to complete the ride. Then I hit the mountains and had to stop to take some pictures. The formations surrounding me were incredible.

It wasn't long before the road got very tight and twisty as it worked its way through the rocky mountains.

There was nothing on this road that was difficult for an experienced off-road rider except keeping your eyes on the road while admiring the amazing scenery all around you. I stopped about every half mile to take pictures.

Can you see the road on the far hill side? 

When I reached the summit of the climb in the previous pictures, I had this view:

It literally took my breath away. I had come up on some other jeep traffic, but all were very courteous and let me by with a friendly waive. I was not going fast, I just did not want to eat their dust and they had to go pretty slow because of some large rocks and some blind corners.

I then road down the beautiful valley until I came to Leadfield. You can zoom in on the picture below to read the sign to get a quick overview of the history.

There is not much left, but you can hike around the ruins and get a feel for what was here.

I was much more interested in the amazing rock formations that surrounded me on all sides.

Look at the shift in that one.
This rock signaled the beginning of Titus Canyon. Very quickly I was surrounded by high rock cliffs on both sides. It was stunning!

As I was riding along, I noticed some movement in the road in front of me. I kept my distance knowing it could be a snake. I stopped to examine this beautiful Sidewinder Rattlesnake.

As I was examining my new friend, a couple of vehicles came by and were also delighted to get a look at this beautiful snake.

I rode on through the remaining part of the canyon. Around every turn was a new angle that was just amazing to see.

Where does the road go?

It was not long before I exited the canyon and rode down to the valley floor. It was starting to get warm. I rode on pavement for about 25 miles back to camp. It was a very fun and interesting ride. Although too much of it was on pavement for my liking, the Titus Canyon section made it all worth while. You can do this drive is a high clearance vehicle, but I am sure it would not be as much fun as I had on my bike.

When I got back, I took off my riding gear and relaxed in the shade of the trailer. While I was sitting there I had a perfect angle to look down the frame of the trailer. Something looked strange. I then got under the trailer and saw the crack that would begin the odyssey that has been our life for the past two weeks. I decided then, I should not put the bike on the rail on the back of the trailer. My solution was to put it in the bed of the truck sideways in front of the hitch. To do that I had to take off the front wheel and front forks. It was quite an ordeal, but Kim helped and we got it done. It actually fits pretty well.

I will let it ride like that back to Missouri. In my next entry, I will give a little bit more detail on how we made decisions on how to get back on the road. I said then, that this was happening for a reason. I now know what that reason was. I will share that in my coming entries.


  1. REally enjoying your exploration of Death Valley! We loved it there, as well, but only went for a day. Now that we have a Jeep, it's another place on my list of places to go back to!

    1. There is so much to see there. Make it a winter stop and you will love it.

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