DAY TRIP: Death Valley Ibex Spring and Saratoga Springs part 1
March is by far the most pleasant month to visit Death Valley. The weather is a comfortable 70 degrees however the park is also plagued with tourists that venture far away from their cars to explore the park, a rarity in the hot summer months. This time we explored the southern portion of the park. We started Right outside Shoshone and headed to the Ibex Springs are that was the site of the Ibex Mine as well as numerous modern Talc mines. We then continued past the Ibex Sand dunes, onto Saratoga Springs. From there we took Harry Wade road which had a river crossing in the middle of the desert, up West Side Rd to Eagle Borax Works and out of the park through Furnace Creek. It was a great day with numerous surprises that only Death Valley can deal out.
We drove the short road to Ibex Spring and began exploring this area that had mining activities dating from 1882 all the way to 1968. Truck parked near the Ibex Spring.
Most of the structures at the site were modern dating from 1930-1960 which had plumbing and electricity.
Cross on the roof could potentially have been the church in this camp.
Boys climbed out the window to explore more of the area.
Another modern looking building.
Older stone building remains were re-purposed with newer structures during the life of the camp.
My favorite building, a double outhouse that once had running water and real porcelain toilets, all destroyed.
Kids ran into this mine calling it a dog house, the mine shaft was sealed and everyone made it out.
This is possibly the site of the spring, there are pipes running out of this area into the immediate buildings.
Looking into the spring cave, unfortunately the inside pictures did not come out.
We continued up around the corner and up a mining road to the base of the largest mining operation in the area: Moorehouse Talc Mine.
Moorhouse Mine consisted of an intricate 16 claims in this immediate multi-level area connected by rail tracks and shoots.
Looking up the two ore shoots.
Inside the ore shoot.
Inside the mine shaft.
View from the top of the shoot.
Following the tracks.
End of the line of the second level tracks.
Looking back on the tracks towards the shoots and the truck parking area across the gulch.
DAY TRIP: Death Valley Ibex Spring and Saratoga Springs part 2
Continued from part 1 posted earlier.
It's difficult to judge the size of this mining operation. Trucks parked on the opposite side of the gulch from the shoots.
Looking down the shoot.
Breathtaking view of the valleys below and mountains across are spectacular.
Second level has one mine with a giant door that someone opened to gain access to the mine and two more sets or tracks.
Continuing to the right, a storage building and another mine claim.
Panning across to the right some more we come to the parking area and the double shoots.
Mine claim door propped open.
View inside the mine.
Storage building with rail tracks ending above.
This area has so much to explore that we only had a chance to see just a few highlights leaving more to explore on our future trips. We gathered the kids and headed to Saratoga Springs.
Road to Saratoga springs had deceiving deep sand signs even though we did not encounter any sand on the road, we did see Ibex Sand Dunes on the other side of the valley.
Saratoga Springs tun off.
Kids posing the the end of the road.
We just spent an hour driving through the desert to come to this sign. My friend's initial reaction was to question what kind of fish live in sand dunes.
We rounded the corner of a 100ft hike and scenery opened up to the two Saratoga Springs ponds which house several species of fish that are not found anywhere else in the world!
Climbing to the top of the hill to get a better view of the area.
The rest of the day consisted of shooting time lapse videos of Harry Wade Rd and West side Rd. We came upon a river crossing in the middle of Harry Wade Rd, I did not take any pictures however I did get it on video which will be posted soon. We continued driving north on West Side Rd and our last stop of the day was Eagle Borax Works.
Eagle Borax Works was the first Borax camp in Death Valley in 1882, it was not very successful and shut down not too long after opening, in the background there is a mound on top of the remains of the original mill.
Another great trip in the books, exploring new areas of Death Valley and exposing the kids to the beauty of what this remote desert wilderness has to offer.
After a couple weeks in the dry desert it was time to go up in elevation and play in the snow. I was leaving the snow play area and saw this innocent looking stump. I remember seeing a video on YouTube with a Jeep Wrangled with front and rear Detroit lockers climbing up a stump much taller than this one in snow and had to give it a shot.
Yes all wheels are in contact with the ground.
Stump is approximately 24-26" high.
I am getting the most out of the 8" front wheel travel.
I was going to use the rocks as stepping stones but then it would be too easy, so I went up the stump without using the rocks, look at the tire track carefully.
After spending a day playing in the snow I decided that I needed a day on the river so we went out to the Aztec Wash area of Lake Mead to explore the trail system in that area. I have done some trails there in the past like exploring the old mining camp in Eldorado Canyon and a trail that leads to the water of the most popular cliff diving area of the lake however I have never explored any of the other trails and though it would be a great way to spend the day with the boys.
We started our adventure in the town of Nelson and the Copper Cache trail head and continued down the Aztec Wash Road all the way to the eriver's
We soon reached the end of the line at the Aztec Cove.
Boys got out and ran around to play in the water and climb up every rock they could see.
Next trail we explored was marked with a ribboned shovel, we had to explore it.
Looks like an entrance to a private mining operation.
More welcoming desert signage.
Just in case the first two warnings were not enough, be aware of the quick sand, we turned around and returned to the main trail.
Next trail was the Fire Mountain Trail which was by far the most enjoyable trail of the day and also the most pleasant trail in the entire Lake Mead NRA. THe trail started off as a washboard but quickly found it's way up to a spine of a finger that ran all the way to the water with spectacular views.
The end of the trail had two options: main overlook where you had a 100yrad walk to the water and Fire Mountain Point Rd which took you within 10ft of water access, both options had clear water and spectacular views.
Ferocactus, a type of barrel cactus.
Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail pricklypear cactus.
Cylindropuntia also known as Cholla cactus.
I think this is buckhorn cholla cactus but not sure. Many different varieties of cacti growing in the same area.
We continued to explore several more coves and trails in the area however Montana Wash Rd and cove was my favorite.
This was the biggest cove of the day, with the most gradual incline of the water, however the boys were too tired from exploring all the other areas and fell asleep.
There are signs for no overnight camping and this would make a perfect day trip getaway with the camper in the hot summer months.
Crystal clear water provided endless visibility all the way out to the end of the cove which is different from the upper portions of the river as well as Lake Mead itself.
DAY TRIP: Death Valley Deadman Pass Lost Section and Owl Spring
This beautiful spring weather is a fantastic reason to get out and explore parts of Death Valley which would be too dangerous with toddlers in the summer months.
This trip we headed out to the remaining areas of the park that are known to be the most lonely that is remote and hardly ever frequented. Deadman Pass and Lost Section Rd, then we headed south to Little Dumont, up Harry Wade Rd to Owl Hole Spring Camp, Black Magic Mine and the remote abandoned military radio tower/repeater at the end of Owl Hole Spring Rd.
334 miles covered with 171 miles off pavement.
Boys are checking out the USGS marker at the top of the pass. Driving up the pass was smooth and fast 35-40mph with occasional slow downs for ruts.
We made it to Furnace Creek Wash Rd, turned north and then west onto Lost Section Rd. This is the water tank and trough at the beginning.
Second half of the road consisted of miles of dips that had to be navigated at 5mph, was a fun drive once in a while but not enjoyable.
End of the line for the main drag of Lost Section Rd.
Looking the other direction from Willow Spring.
Just past the rocks at the end of the road there are remnants of a mining operation.
More mining equipment debris.
Loos rocks that fell off due to erosion were reconstructed into a fire pit by visitors. Very pleasant area with wind protection, shade and seclusion.
Harry Wade Exit memorial plaque. This was by far the easiest route of any of the other 49ers.
We headed north on Harry Wade Rd to the intersection of Owl Hole Spring Rd where we turned west and headed to one of the least frequently visited spots in the park.
Owl Hole Spring Camp, this was the home base for New Deal Mine just up the road and Black Magic Mine 3 miles up the road.
Upper Spring pool.
Both the pools. At one point BLM created a burro coral around the pools to trap the burro that have been overpopulated in the area and transplant them elsewhere but there are no remains of the coral left on site.
View looking down at the Spring.
Burros leaving the Owl Hole Spring as we arrived.
Boys wasted no time getting dirty and exploring.
Structure at the top of the spring.
Vintage Coors can.
I always see cans and cans laying around every mining operation and always was intrigued by why they are scattered around and were not thrown away or recycled. PENZOIL SAE 10 on this can and there were numerous SAE 80 cans. Oil cans are dirty and they were thrown away so they do not contaminate other food grade cans which are much easier to clean.
We did not explore New Deal Mine because the boys were getting tired and I did not particularly want to hike in the desert by myself with two toddlers, next time I am in the area I will make it out with them to the mine and abandoned excavator.
Adventure continues in part two with Black Magic mine, Microwave Rd and the end of Owl Hole Spring Rd.
DAY TRIP: Death Valley Black Magic Mine and Owl Head Spring Rd
Continued from the last post.
After exploring Owl Spring Camp we took a quick trip up the New Deal Mine Rd. We did not stop at the New Deal Mine but rather continued to the way more exciting and easily accessible Black Magic Mine.
First signs of the mining operation is this ore processing area with several piles of ore scattered in the area. Black Magic Manganese Mine produced Iron, Aluminum, Phosporus and Managanese and had ore mined from three distinct bodies: fissure vein, shear zone and breccia fill.
Continuing up the trail we came to the ore bucket.
Top of the ore bucket.
Looking down the ore bucket.
At one of the claim sites.
This used to be a vertical shaft at one point.
Abandoned mining truck cab. circa 1941 GMC CCKW “Deuce-and-a-Half” big shout out to AlexCold and nitro_rat for identifying it.
Looks like the road upto the mine was once very well maintained so that this vehicle can make it up this far.
Sad face of a once beautiful Hudson Hornet, big shout out to nitro_rat for identifying it.
Dodge Power Wagon far down in the gully. Once again a big shout out to nitro_rat for identifying it.
We continued to explore the mine roads.
This landscape of the Iron and Manganese ore is very alien and lifeless. Others have used this area for camping with the fire ring right behind the truck and a very well protected area with breathtaking views.
End of the line at the top of the furthest in mine road.
DAY TRIP: Death Valley Black Magic Mine and Owl Head Spring Rd
Continued from the last post.
Watched a couple jets buzz us then drop something onto the Leech Dry Lake Bed.
We left Black Magic mine and continued on old Microwave Rd now called Owl Hole Spring Rd to the dreaded dead end.
All of the sudden the signs make sense why everyone is advised to stay out.
Not only should the travelers be weary of the unexploded ordinances but lasers too.
Death valley sign after prolonged radiation and laser beam exposure.
Old twisty roads sign near the end.
We made it to the top.
Abandoned military radio tower/repeater.
Great spot on the top of the world where you can see Mt Whitney to the west and Mount Charleston (Las Vegas) to the east.
Pretty amazing trip covering many miles of seldom explored areas of Death Valley. The boys had a great time, saw many burros and explored several mines. The truck did very well and managed to get everywhere in 2wd with no issues. Airing down 37" tires to 15psi made the ride soft and plush even on the roughest sections, however I was careful driving 80+ miles home worried that the tire could unseat in a fast turn. 18-20psi seems to work the best all around for the Sub.
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This trip we ended up having a little longer of a day than I intended, 512 miles total and over 200 in the dirt exploring the Lippincott and Hunter Mountain areas.
We started with Boxcar Cabin, which location is supposed to be remained a secret.
This is the welcome sign outside.
Inside had another well put together sign. This was a cabin for a nearby mine and is maintained for guests to use. Two rooms inside, one bedroom with a bed frame and a kitchen with a table and a wood burning stove.
Outhouse a hundred feet up the trail.
You just never know what surprise awaits you until you open the outhouse door.
Pile of rocks at the Lippincott Pass turn off. Kids spent an hour climbing up and down this magical pile.
Suburban ready for the long journey ahead.
Overcast sky made for a quick and very uneventful 2wd drive up the pass. With the Easter crowds receding, this was much rougher ride than the last time we went down the pass around Thanxgiving.
Foundation remains at the Homestake Dry Camp.
Old water tank that must have been used to bring water to the Lippincott Mine.
Not sure what this is other than a vending/dispensing machine.
Still gloomy and overcast, we continued to the Racetrack to watch the rocks that slide across the playa.
Kids spent an hour running around the dry lake bed.
We made it to Teakettle junction as the sun came out from behind the clouds.
The green teakettle is the one we left after Thanksgiving, even though they are cleared regularly ever couple of months ours remained. The angry bird looking pitcher is my contribution this trip.
We headed back via Hunter Mountain Rd, and shortly after Lost Burro Gap we came to an intersection. To the right is a quick run up to the Lost Burro Mine and left was a cool looking trail called White Top Mountain Rd. We drove the road to the end, found this repeater near the end.
Another repeater on the way to the summit of White Top Mountain.
This was one of the most sketchy trails I have done in Death Valley and it took the Sub within feet of the White Top Mountain summit from where I had a birds eye view of the valley below.
I have reached the number of pics I can post in a single posting, the adventure will be continued in part 2.
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I have been doing a lot of day trips due to wife's work schedule however we finally got the same days off and decided to head out to the remote north rim of the Grand Canyon via Gold Butte and Parashant National Monuments.
We started our adventure in the Riverside Ghost Town right outside Gold Butte where the kids ran around the abandoned buildings and I had time to deflate the tires.
Boys playing in an abandoned building.
Main street of this little town.
As we enter Gold Butte we are greeted by the sign warning of tortoises crossing, I am so glad that it's not tortoise season yet.
Kids are showing mom the right way to scale the CCC Cisterm at Whitney Pocket.
This is the first time the 18month old went up and down the stairs by himself.
View of the dam from the highest point in the canyon I could scramble up.
Recent rains let the grass grow lush and green inside the cistern.
Climbing up to the farthest part of the cistern.
Sandy beach in the middle of the desert.
This could be very relaxing on a hot summer day if there was water in the trough.
Little one wants to climb to the top.
Nearly at the middle of the rock.
After a quick drive through Gold Butte we finally made it into Arizona and into Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument.
BLM has numerous warnings about road conditions.
Ultimate millenials stay out sign.
Original plan was to follow Grand Gulch wash to Grand Gulch Canyon, up the canyon, over to the mine, and onto Twin Point overlook for the night.
Entrance to the Grand Gulch Canyon marked with the cow scull.
We went up all but the last 100 yards of the canyon as the 6-12" rocks turned in to 2-3ft and then 3-4ft boulders. The trail was impassable to the Sub, and after scratching up the running boards a little we tuned around and headed to a different area to make camp for the night.