The Road to Saline Valley, South Pass – May 24, 2016

When we checked into the Panamint Springs Campground last night, we chose to stay in a dry RV spot since we weren’t going to be there long enough to need any services. So it was a real surprise when we woke up to a stream flowing from our site.

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There was a water faucet, but it was part of the irrigation system. The irrigation system had been turned on, but the one at our campground had broken off underground and all the water was creating a stream running under our truck.

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The water faucet is to the left of the open front door.

Except for getting our feet wet at the bottom of our steps, this wasn’t a problem for us. We contacted the office, but they weren’t able to do anything about it at the moment.

We finished packing up and continued to go west on Hwy 190.

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At the edge of Death Valley National Park, we turned onto Saline Valley Road.

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The road follows along the top of the ridge. Joshua Trees love high altitude desert and this part of the road is definitely both.

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Joshua trees silhouetted against the sky.

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There is a turn off for Hidden Valley. Then the road follows Grapevine Canyon which drops it into the Saline Valley.

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There is a lot of wildlife and flora down the Grapevine Canyon due to the spring that runs through the area. At one point, we were treated to the sight of an adult quail followed by a procession of baby quail crossing the road. As we got closer, suddenly there was a tremendous number of quail jumping out of the bushes, flying and running across the road. They all disappeared into the canyon on the other side of the road in moments.

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As we reached the slope leading down into the valley, we heard the sound of a big aircraft close by. After looking around for a bit, we saw a C-130 flying really low along the valley to our left.

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I took a few pictures, but they don’t do it justice. The C-130 is a really large four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It passed from behind us to follow the valley. To see it flying so close to the ground for miles was amazing.

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Most of the drive to Saline Valley Warm Springs from the south pass is a very long heavily washboard dirt road. The washboard is truly teeth jarring, especially for the 50 or 60 miles it takes for us to reach the turn off to the warm springs. The Fuso is especially uncomfortable and it feels and sounds like everything is going to rattle apart.

Bone jarring washboard video

We came this way in June one year in our Range Rover. It was 128 degrees along the valley floor. We blew out two tires going down this road to the warm springs. Not at the same time. It was a combination of the heat and the washboard. So we take it easy when we drive in from the South Pass.

I think the mountains make for beautiful scenery.

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Notice the washboard.

There is a mostly dry lake bed/salt flat which shines with the sunlight.

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Eventually, you reach the turn off for the warm springs. It is still a long drive before you get to the bat pole. It is on the far right of the photo below. And the springs are the darker green area with trees that is almost in the center.

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We started out around 8:30 am and arrived around 3:00. It is a long and dusty drive. We set up camp, but that is a story for the next blog post.

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