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SO-CAL Adventure – Death Valley NP For Some Wheeling And Sunshine

 

SO-CAL Adventure

ZUKIWORLD Online Travels To Death Valley NP For Some Wheeling And Sunshine. Editor/Photo: Eric Bewley

DEATH VALLEY CA. —This time of the year brings thoughts and longings of warmer weather and sunnier days. Southern California is one of the best places to escape the winter blues and get your adventure fix to boot. Death Valley National Park is a desolate wonderment. One of the driest and warmest places on the planet. Winter time is you best time to visit, and most due. In fact the busy season in Death Valley is during the winter and spring months.

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Death Valley is famous for hot temperatures and interesting geology but what I find the most intriguing is the abandoned mining operations. There were many different kinds of mines that worked this area. Some were looking for gold, some for silver, talc and borax were popular too. Each mine has left something behind for the explorer to find.

This day’s journey has us traveling to the Warm Springs mine. A talc mine, this was the last mine to operate in Death Valley and closed sometime in the late 60’s for the last time. It is probably one of the best examples of mining life because the remains are mostly there. From the several building ranch with swimming pool to the mine and refining equipment, this mine has plenty to keep the curious busy.

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Before we could get to the Warm Springs mine we past the lowest point in North America. At approximately 282 feet below see level the highest recorded temperature was 134 degrees Fahrenheit. The ground is covered in a mineral that was used for many things but most famously borax was used as a detergent. The Eagle Borax works was a small operation that refined and mined this mineral. All that is left is a few settling ponds but one can get the sense of how it was by the placard.

 

Warm Springs ranch is at the southern most point of the park and is one of the only ways to get from Death Valley to Paniment Valley managed by the BLM. We had intentions of driving a huge loop through the Warm Springs pass and Paniment Valley looping back to our point of origin, Furnace Creek but the distances are too great and the road to rough to make that in a day.

We decided to really explore the Warm Springs mine mainly due to its great condition. The mine was blocked off which bothered us until we noticed that talc mines are not as stable as hard rock gold mines. When we walked up to the gated shaft opening it was apparent that most of the mine had caved in. 

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After a full day of exploration we headed back toward camp. It was tempting to stay here as there was fresh water and good primitive camping areas but we thought it best to return back. This ranch definitely captures the imagination and the spirit of the area and out off all the mines explored in Death Valley, this is the most complete, significant, and probably least visited.

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One comment

  1. I did the exact loop this article describes but you didn’t complete in my mostly stock ’88 JX in January of 2015. It took me 11 hours all the way around, with Furnace Creek as my base camp. But I went the opposite direction, driving first towards Stovepipe Wells, up over the grade and down to Panamint Springs, where I topped off the gas tank. Going this direction, the steep and very long grade between Stovepipe Wells and Panamint Springs is 6%. My little 1.3 was going 30-35 MPH most of the way. If you go the opposite direction (from Panamint Springs to Stovepipe Wells) the grade is 9% !!! That would certainly be 2nd gear with the stock 1.3 motor. After fueling up, I drove to Balarat and then up into Gohler Wash. The most difficult challenge on the entire ride is “dry falls,” which is listed as 4/10th a mile inside the canyon. My little JX with OMU lift and suspension, stock trans case, & no lockers, walked right up and over no problem. As you get closer to Menghel Pass, there are several short but challenging little bolder gardens that is the road. Very remote. No cell service along the way. It got dark a full 2-3 hours before we got back to pavement and we left Furnace at 9AM. If you left by 6AM in short winter days, you’d have daylight the whole way.

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