Wednesday, March 4, 2009

After visiting Lake Isabella, the route takes us east, through Ridgecrest, which seems to be a military town, based on being somewhat surrounded by weapons test ranges.A night was spent near the Trona Pinnacles on the way back north towards Death Valley.
A 4-wheel drive road that I wanted to check out appeared to be in bad shape, or even closed in the high passes, so I checked out the price of fuel at Pinnamint, then took the traditional route into the west side of the park via Stovepipe Wells.

I had never been in the northern part of the park, and so headed up to check out Scotty's Castle.
On the way, I met a herd of dirt bikers, who just may have completed the route I had previously considered?
There are still places where you can see the original wagon tracks from the early gold rush explorers headed west through here. You may have to blow up my pic to see them, diretly behind the sign.
I also checked out the original well at Stovepipe Wells, named as such because the well was marked with stovepipe when it became partially buried in drifting sand. The wagon tracks might also be visible in this pic - directly behind the monument, as I recall.
Next, it was off to Scotty's Castle in the north east part of the park. I didn't take the official tour, but I did walk around the grounds and snooped as much as possible. Some pretty neat examples of early technology and innovation were on display.

A view from the hilltop where Scotty's grave is.

I hiked around the perimeter of the Ubehebe crater in the same area, created through a volcanic explosion - a mere 2000 years ago! It covered 6 square miles - well, you read the plaque!

Camper visible in the parking lot.
Camper still visible?
Camper visible at center of far rim.
Watch your step!

Watch your step in this video!

Camping is allowed along backcountry 4x4 routes, at least two miles from the start. This is mine.
And, the road leading to yet another very quiet, scenic camp spot the next night.
Next: Mojave National Reserve.

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