Click Here  for Access to the Mobile Version of This Website!

"Make 4WD Mechanix Magazine and the 'Tech and Travel' Forums your online resource for Jeep, 4x4 truck, powersports and dual-sport motorcycle maintenance, troubleshooting, repairs, rebuilding, engine tuning, upgrades, backcountry trail prep and overland travel tips!"Moses Ludel, Publisher

Column: Tom Willis Takes Us to Death Valley National Park!

    Tom Willis lives at northern Nevada. Tom has been involved in all aspects of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) activities for the past 40 years. He has written and published three guidebooks, covering off-pavement travel and activities in the Nevada and California deserts. Over the last eight years alone, Tom Willis has traveled more than 10,000 miles off pavement. Much of that travel has been research for his popular books.

     Tom notes that people have been exploring the Far West for almost 250 years, and virtually any place worth visiting has an established trail access! Dedicated to the principles of Tread Lightly, Tom Willis encourages folks to take plenty of pictures and leave only tire tracks on existing trails. When a destination does involve a short walk, Tom suggests that exercise will probably do us all some good!

     Tom Willis’ contributions to this corner of the magazine are about places to see, trails to drive and developments that affect OHV recreation in the western United States. His trail-based articles are destination oriented or “loop” trips, and Tom often talks about things you should know to make your explorations more enjoyable!

Tom Willis photo at Dayton-Harris gravesite

Inscription on this gravesite reads, "Bury me beside Jim Dayton in the valley we loved. Above me write: 'Here lies Shorty Harris, a single blanket jackass prospector'..." 

Death Valley National Park—West Side Road to Butte Valley!

Tom Willis, August 24, 2012This is the first segment of a trip that will be described in two consecutive articles. The complete route begins in Death Valley and concludes at the southern edge of PanamintValley. Be sure to check road conditions with the Park Service at Furnace Creek.  

     The southern end of the Panamint Mountains, in Death Valley National Park, is rich in mining history. Some of it for gold, silver and lead mines, more often for talc mining. 

 

     I recommend that anyone taking this trip obtain a copy of either Tom Harrison’s “Recreation Map of Death Valley National Park” or the Trails Illustrated map of “Death Valley National Park.” A high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must, and at least two vehicles should make the trip. Stock SUV models might suffer some body damage. 

 

     Start at West Side Road, about 7 miles south of Furnace Creek Ranch, a well graded road with many historic points of interest along the way. This road was originally used by the 20 mule team borax “trains” on their way to and from Harmony Borax Works. There are a number of roads heading west into the Panamint Mountains, but only one provides a route through to Panamint Valley.  

 

     Along West Side Road, a few of the historical sites are the Dayton-Harris Grave, Eagle Borax Works, and Bennett-Arcane Long Camp. The latter is where the Bennett and Arcane wagon party spent December 1849. This camp is where Manly and Rodgers started their hike to get help at what today is Santa Clarita near Los Angeles, California. 

 

     Warm Springs Canyon Road is about 33 miles south from where you left the pavement—turn west here. This road is usually well maintained up to the Warm Springs Mine area, about 11 miles west from West Side Road. 

 

     The Park Service has removed the house, shop and swimming pool at Warm Springs. This was the residence of the mine manager. The structures have been replaced with a new (2012) “museum” to provide information about the history, mining and geology of the area. Most of the surrounding area is being returned to a natural state. It’s well worth a stop here. In the 1970s, mining here and in Galena Canyon accounted for 90% of California’s talc production. 

 

     The large mine entrance, with the heavy iron gate on a shelf near the south side of the road, is the White Point workings of the Grantham (Big Talc) Mine complex. Ownership of the mines and surrounding area was transferred to the National Park Service in the 1980s.

 

Tom Willis photo of Geologist's Cabin, Death Valley Area

Geologist's Cabin, photo by Tom Willis 

 

     Proceeding from Warm Springs to Butte Valley is limited to high clearance vehicles. There are a few trails in this valley, and our route takes us to the south end of Butte Valley. A great stopping point is Geologist’s Cabin, 11 miles from Warm Springs. This is a very nice one room stone structure, complete with a cement floor and intact windows. Be sure to sign the informal log book in the cabin. This cabin was built in 1930 by Asa Russell, a.k.a. “Panamint Russ”.  The water source near the cabin is Anvil Spring. 

 

  Note: My next column/article will conclude this trip with a ride through Goler Wash to Panamint Valley…

 

Warn Industries has a full line of powersports products! Click on this image to reach the Warn Industries official website!  

Click here for direct access to the 4WD Mechanix Magazine Facebook Page!  Join Us at Facebook!

BFG Tires—official sponsors at 4WD Mechanix Magazine and HD Video Network!

Click for direct access to the Bestop® official website!

Click here for direct access to the Advance Adapters website!

Warn Industries, click on logo for access to the official site!

Click on logo for direct access to the Weld Mold Company website!

Official sponsors at the magazine's welding section!

HTP Welding, click here for direct access to the official website!

Click for direct access to the Dynamic Diesel, Inc. website!

4WD Mechanix Magazine is a proud charter member of the Nevada Four-Wheel Drive Association!

UFWDA Logo 240 px

4WD Mechanix Magazine is a SEMA Member!

Click here for access to the Bentley Publishers website and Jeep Owner's Bible, 3rd Edition, by Moses Ludel.

Jeep® Owner's Bible  by Moses Ludel—available for more than two decades and a best seller!

 Click here for access to the Bentley Publishers website and information about the 1946-71 CJ Jeep Rebuilder's Manual by Moses Ludel.

Each of Moses Ludel's Jeep® books earned an official Mopar® part number!

 Click here for access to the Bentley Publishers website and information about the 1972-86 CJ Jeep Rebuilder's Manual by Moses Ludel.

For 4x4 Jeep®, Truck and SUV technical information, make this magazine your professional resource!

 Ford F-Series Pickup Owner's Bible by Moses Ludel (Bentley Publishers)

Moses Ludel's Ford F-truck and GM truck books earned official Ford Motor Company 'SVO' and GM Motorsport part numbers!

 Chevrolet & GMC Light Truck Owner's Bible by Moses Ludel (Bentley Publishers)

 Toyota Truck & Land Cruiser Owner's Bible by Moses Ludel (Bentley Publishers)

The Toyota Truck and Land Cruiser book by Moses Ludel is a classic among vintage Toyota pickup and FJ40 Land Cruiser owners!

Find Moses Ludel's books at: Bentley Publishers, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Advance Adapters, 4WD Hardware, Quadratec, Willys Jeep® Parts, 4x4Books—plus independent book stores and many 4WD outlets!

Click here for direct access to the 4WD Mechanix Magazine Facebook Page!