Three-day off-road expedition in the Argus Range on the western side of Panamint Valley, just west of Death Valley National Park.
Wheeling, hiking, camping, and exploring mines and cabins. The four-wheeling will be relatively easy, doable by any 4×4 high-clearance vehicle.
> > Details/itinerary below.
We’re going to have fun exploring a number of canyons in the Argus Range using Nadeau Road as our jumping off point. It’ll be three days of wheeling, hiking, exploring, geocaching and camping.
** Note – For those so inclined, instead of camping with the group, you could find accommodations and camping opportunities at Panamint Springs Resort. It’ll add considerable driving time and fuel consumption, but it may be desirable for some folks.
Friday – November 26
We’ll meet at Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest at 9 am. We’ll head out at 9:30 am.
Maturango Museum – 100 E Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest, CA 93555
From the museum, we’ll make a stop at Trona Pinnacles and do some exploring, geocaching (I’ll send GPS coordinates of the ones we’ll try to find in a separate email) and some photos.
I need some new photos of my truck with the new graphics.
From there, we’ll make our way through Trona and head to the north end of the Slate Range.
(Get gas beforehand in Ridgecrest – Trona may not have any gas. It is currently literally running out of water.)
Our first area of exploration will be Water Canyon and the Reilly town site.
Next we’ll check out the Onyx Mine area and the enormous concrete gem cutting tables and old mining equipment littering the area. If we keep our eyes peeled, we may find some remaining gem stones.
Later, we’ll head north to Shepherd Canyon and to Kopper King Mine and a beautifully maintained cabin.
With time remaining before darkness sets in, we’ll do some exploring in Knight Canyon and find a place to camp for the night.
Saturday – November 27
We’ll break camp and get on the road around 9 am.
Our first stop will be Panamint Crater, a 180-foot diameter crater on the western edge of Panamint Valley. The origin of the crater is uncertain – there is no evidence of an impact or eruption – it’s thought is could be the result of a sink hole.
Next comes Revenue Canyon and the quarry which is the location of the Panamint Valley Limestone Mill. Who could imagine such an undertaking could be taking place not too far off the main road. Investment in this operation was as recent as 2018!
Further up the canyon we’ll come across Big Four Mill with its ore bin and four cyanide vats.
We’ll set out on foot for additional exploration – remnants of old structures, and possibly a gurgling spring.
We’ll come back down the canyon and continue north to Snow Canyon and Snow Canyon Mill to explore and find a place for lunch.
After our exploration and now with full stomachs, our next stop is Thompson Canyon and the well-taken-of Minnieta Cabin. Just a short distance from the cabin is the Minnieta Mine- a great place for additional exploration.
If daylight permits, we’ll head north to Stone Canyon, the gateway to the Defense Mine, Modoc Mine and Lookout City.
A hike will take us to Defense Mine and its ruins, while we will drive to the beautiful overlook at Lookout City where it looks eastward across Panamint Valley towards Telescope Peak and the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns. Charcoal was produced at the kilns and then transported across the valley and high into the mountains to smelt the ore mined at Lookout City.
We’ll find a location to spend the night before our final day of exploration and hiking.
Sunday – November 28
We’ll break camp and make our way north toward Panamint Valley Resort. It’ll be a chance to refuel, replenish our supplies, and perhaps make this our lunch stop. There may also be an opportunity to take a quick shower, assuming the resort’s shower is functioning.
From Panamint Valley Resort, we’ll head up to Darwin Falls on the old Eichbaum Toll Road – the original path that brought people into Death Valley.
We’ll take a relatively short hike to Darwin Falls, this time with a small twist – our goal is to get to the upper falls and pools ABOVE the falls where 99% of the people go. Few people know, and/or have experienced the upper falls and pools.
Once we make our way back to our vehicles, we’ll continue on the Toll Road to China Garden Spring to check on the goldfish living there. It never ceases to amaze me that there would be a pond in (near) Death Valley full of goldfish.
We’ll head through the township of Darwin before making our way to Highway 190 and begin the trek homeward.
It should be a fantastic weekend of wheeling and exploration.