Death Valley National Park Tour
(November 23-25, 2007)
Winter season is approaching and our California desert temperature drops from three digits to mid 70s Degrees Fahrenheit. Ohhh… yeah… a perfect weekend to spend for a motorcycle ride to explore one best California desert park known as the “Death Valley National Park”.
Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States that comprises more than 3.3 million acres of desert wilderness. It’s highest mountain scale measured 11,049 feet that can be access at Telescope Peak on the west bound of the park. And the lowest point of the valley can be experience along the Badwater Basin salt pan at 282 feet below sea level which is the lowest point in North America as well. During summer time, it’s average temperature is @ 120 Degrees Fahrenheit but it’s highest temperature recorded @ 134 F at Furnace Creek area in year 1913. Riders Gery Marcelino on his BMW F650GS and Michael Wheeley on his BMW R1200GS took the desert journey and covers most accessible legal off-roads in the valley...
Day 1 (Friday; Nov. 23, 2007):
The course took us on the Wildrose Rd to Mohogany Flat where we passes a neat row of 10 stone-built Charcoal Kilns. It’s conical structures were designed by Swiss Engineers and built by Chinese laborers in year 1879. These Kilns produced charcoal for the Modock Mine Smelter. Workers filled the air-tight kilns with pinyon pine logs and fired them which took the wood to charcoal for an approximately 6 to 8 days plus another 5 days for cooling.
Night off-roading adventure challenges us along the path of Indian Ranch Rd up to Wingate Pass where continuous wash boards and soft sands present along the route. We had encountered our first mechanical breakdown on the F650GS where the drive chain came off from the rear wheel gear. With our mechanical expertise, we manage to bandage temporarily the chain issue but shorten our night tour. After an estimated 50 miles of diverse off-road conditions at night time, we manage to get back at the Wildrose Creek Campground still in one piece and warm ourselves inside our own tent thru the night.
Day 2 (Saturday; Nov. 24, 2007):
Route from Wildrose Rd to Aguereberry offers a great mild twisty off-road terrains. The Aguereberry Point offers one of the most expansive vistas on the western side of Death Valley. Panoramic view of Mount Charleston (11,900 foot high), the green oasis of Furnace Creek, and the white salt flats of Badwater basin is a must destination for digital photography collections.
Touring the scenic CA-190 on the southern part of the valley can access great vistas along the way. Zabriskie Point is an elevated overlook of a colorful, undulating landscape of gullies and mud hills at the edge of Funeral Mountains. And Dante’s Peak is in the high summit of the Black Mountains where we can view on a clear day the highest 14,495 foot Mount Whitney and could also view the lowest 282 feet below sea level of Badwater basin in one place.
The main event of our tour follows the West Side Road and Badwater loop. West Side Highway or the GS Highway per Michael is a 40 miles stretch of gravels, rocks, wash boards, powder dirt, and some deep soft sands terrains where we also passes historical landmark of Bennette’s Long Camp . While the Badwater Rd is a scenic rough asphalt road where we passes the lowest point 282 feet below sea level.
Day 3 (Sunday; Nov. 24, 2007):
Death Valley National Park to San Diego took us approximately 6 hours of Freeway ride. As usual, we ended up our motorcycle tour at the “Coffee Bean” by Mira Mesa Blvd were we relate some of our journey with Bill Edwards. Some learning lessons were justified to always bring basic tools including spare chain when planning to ride on a long off roads trails and don't pass a good gas station. Till next time…