Dreamers, Miners & Thieves – Death Valley Expedition
November 18-21, 2021

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Rates - Per Person/Double Occupancy
Availability : June 2021 - Oct. 1, 2021
Starting Location - Pearsonville, CA
Ending Location - Furnace Creek, CA
Min Age : 5+
Max People : 25
Tour Details & Highlights

Known as the hottest place on planet earth (a record 134 degrees), driest (less than 1.5 inches/year) and lowest U.S. national park (-282 feet below sea level), Death Valley is a land of extremes offering park visitors a striking contrast of landscapes to explore — from the snow that covers the towering rocks at Telescope Peak to the myriad canyons and seemingly endless alluvial fans.

For maybe the first time ever, you’ll experience spectacular scenery so profound you won’t be able to wait to share your experience with your friends, family and co-workers.

Located in both California and Nevada, Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has almost 1,000 miles of roads that provide access to both popular, and remote locations, in the park. We’ll be spending a good deal of time in those remote locations.


In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Northern California. People from all over the U.S. packed up their belongings and traveled by foot, horse and wagon train to what they DREAMED would be a better life. As one particular wagon train that started their journey from Salt Lake City, no one knew that this would become part of a story of human suffering in a place eventually named Death Valley.


Teakettle Junction - Black Rhino Expeditions - 4x4 Overlanding in Death ValleyWe’ve been introducing people to Death Valley for almost 20 years. Our expeditions are run during the cooler parts of the year and are a combination of driving, hiking, exploring mining camps, and photographic opportunities. Even a 4×4 truck can only get you so far. So much of the great stuff to see is only accessible by foot though none of our hikes are too strenuous, or too long.

We’ll also be accompanied by Allan Shareghi, a retired U.S. Department of Interior geologist who will educate us on the fantastic geology Death Valley offers. Each year, universities and colleges from around the world send their geology students to Death Valley to prepare their Master’s Theses. You’ll never look at ANY landscape the same after Mr. Shareghi’s presentations.

For this expedition, we’ll be staying at The Ranch at Death Valley hotel. It recently had a $100 million renovation and features 224 all-new guest rooms.

The Ranch will serve as our Base Camp and offers nearby gasoline, restaurants, a General Store, and a delightful spring-fed pool that is consistently 87 degrees.

Spot Mapping - Black Rhino Expeditions - Off Road ToursDuring the expedition, we’ll be using a SPOT (a satellite tracking device) which will allow those folks who couldn’t make the trip to follow on their computer our daily travels. We’ll supply the link for the arm-chair expeditioners.

Each guest will receive a commemorative 12″ x 12″ coffee table book so be prepared for tons of photos being taken.

After this expedition, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to visit Death Valley.

Health notice/restrictions: Off-road tours are rough, bumpy rides often through rough terrain. Our off-road Expeditions are not suitable for guests with back problems, neck problems, motion sickness, pregnancy, major medical conditions, or any other health condition(s) that could be aggravated by a bumpy ride through rough terrain.

** NOTE: What if a specific Expedition is canceled? While incredibly rare, from time to time, an Expedition  may have to be canceled. For almost all of our events, you will be given the choice to either receive a full refund, or transfer your registration to another event that has openings. For some Expeditions, we may deduct up to a 15% fee from your refund to offset unrecoverable expenses. Due to unforeseen circumstances all Black Rhino Expeditions trips and trails are subject to change or cancellation without advance notice.

Departure Location

Pearsonville, CA

Departure Time

9:30 AM

Price Includes

  • Double Occupancy lodging(Single Lodging Available - just ask)
  • 3 Nights Hotel Accommodations
  • All Meals During The Trip (excluding alcohol)
  • Entrance Fees
  • All Tips & Gratuities
  • Fun, inspiration, exploration and a good time!

Price Excludes

  • Transportation to and from Death Valley, CA
  • Trip and Cancellation Insurance
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Anything not specifically listed as included.

Complementaries

  • Vehicle Sticker
  • T-Shirt
  • Commemorative 12"x12" Coffee Table Photo Book
What to Expect

Death Valley in known around the world for its spectacular geology – the sight-seeing is incredible! And the history surrounding Death Valley is chockful of colorful characters – Dreamers, Miners, and Thieves!

We will expertly guide you through this magnificent wilderness and introduce you to life-changing experiences.

Our expedition group is small with a limit of 10 vehicles, and every need is taken care of for you in advance. All you need to do is show up and focus on enjoying yourself. Come join the adventure!

Itinerary

Day 1Arrive in Pearsonville, CA at 9 am

November 18, 2021 – Arrive at Pearsonville on Highway 395 by 9 am. Once all our participants have arrived and fueled up, we’ll have a driver’s meeting describing the expedition and your roll in it.

From there we’ll visit a unique water-eroded basalt flow known as Fossil Falls. We’ll take a short walk over to the “falls” and take some photos before continuing north to the turn for Highway 190 that heads toward Death Valley.

U2 Shrine - Death Valley Off Road Tours - Black Rhino ExpeditionsAlong the way, we’ll make a stop at the location of the photo shoot for the Joshua Tree album cover for the rock group U2. You’ll be amazed at the lengths fans will go to as they show their appreciation for the band.

From there, we’ll head to the sleepy “ghost town” of Darwin that once supported mines that produced an estimated $15,000,000 in silver, copper, gold tungsten, zinc and lead ore. A few die-hard residents still live in town.

We’ll leave Darwin and and head through Ophir Canyon to China Garden Springs which was the processing center for the zinc ore from the mines. The Springs consist of a surprisingly large pool of water which is home to a sizable population of Koi fish.

Heading back up the canyon a short way, we’ll travel on the dirt road that was once THE ONLY way from the west to get into Death Valley. In 1926, entrepreneur H.W. Eichbaum, who made his money with a tourism business on Catalina Island and the seaside resort town of Venice, obtained a franchise for a toll road from Darwin Falls to Stovepipe Wells.

Eichbaum toll road - B-W photo 1927 - Burton Frasher
Photo Credit – Burton Frasher – 1927

In a few miles we’ll come to the trail head for the perennial favorite Darwin Falls which year-round produces one of the only permanent fresh water sources in the Park. Our hike starts at the mouth of a gravel-bottom canyon, and in less than 1 mile, the canyon closes and the trail enters a lush oasis of cottonwoods and willows. The next 0.3 miles involve multiple creek crossings en route to a 20-foot waterfall which looks as though it was transported from the tropics. Above the lower waterfall is a three-tiered 140 ft waterfall. It’s truly a sight to behold.

After our hike, it’s time to head across Panamint Valley, up and over Towne Pass and into Death Valley for our night halt and dinner at the Oasis at Death Valley.

Day 2Furnace Creek >> Ubehebe Crater >> Teakettle Junction >> Racetrack >> Hunter Mountain

November 19, 2021 – We’ll set out shortly after our 9 am driver’s meeting from Furnace Creek Ranch and head north on the highway for about 50 minutes until we reach Ubehebe Crater.

Ubehebe Crater - Death Valley - Black Rhino ExpeditionsUbehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater approx. 600 feet deep and half a mile across.  To the local indigenous people, the Timbisha Shoshone Indians, the crater has been known as “Tem-pin-tta- Wo’sah”, meaning Coyote’s Basket. No one is quite sure how Ubehebe became associated with this crater. 

Ubehebe Crater started as a maar volcano which is created by steam and gas explosions when hot magma rising up from the depths of the Earth reached ground water. The intense heat flashed the water into steam which expanded until the pressure was released as a tremendous explosion possibly as recently as 300 years ago.

Teakettle Junction - Black Rhino Expeditions - 4x4 Overlanding in Death ValleyWe’ll head south on a graded dirt road from Ubehebe and make our way to Teakettle Junction which has a sign decorated with teakettles left behind by passersby. The tradition is to bring a new teakettle and to either inscribe your message on it or to write a letter and put it inside. It’s said to bring good luck to those that leave a kettle and to provide an exciting sign for future travelers. We’ll stop to take photos, investigate and to look inside the teakettles – many of them contain very personal notes. 

Further south, in approx. 6 miles, we’ll come to a 1,000 foot thick playa called The Racetrack where the strange phenomenon of the moving rocks takes place.

The Racetrack - Mysterious Moving Rocks - Black Rhino Expeditions
Photo credit: Jeffery Aiello

Racetrack Playa is one of Death Valley’s most enduring mysteries. Littered across the flat, dry surface of this dry lake are hundreds of rocks – some weighing as much as 700 pounds – that seem to have been dragged across the ground, often leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of yards. 

After outruning the rocks, we’ll backtrack slightly to Teakettle Junction where we’ll turn right and make our way through Hidden Valley, and up and over Hunter Mountain to connect again with Highway 190 and head back to the hotel. 

Day 3Furnace Creek >> Badwater >> Artists Palette >> Golden Canyon >> Dantes View

November 20, 2021 – Today, we’ll set out shortly after our 9 am driver’s meeting from Furnace Creek Ranch and head south this time and make our way to Badwater.

Exploring Badwater Basin - Black Rhino ExpeditionsBadwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. These salt flats cover nearly 200 square miles (518 square km), and are made mostly of sodium chloride (table salt), along with calcite, gypsum, and borax.

Badwater Basin was once the site of the large ancient inland Lake Manly which evaporated tens of thousands of years before the arrival of the 1849er for whom it was named. The lake had no outlet which led to the accumulation of sediment and salt over time. It’s estimated to be more than 10,000 feet thick. When the lake finally evaporated, concentrated salt deposits were left behind. Today, fascinating geometric salt polygons form on the flats as groundwater rises up through these deposits and evaporates.  

Artists Palette - Black Rhino ExpeditionsNext on our travels is Artists Palette, a spectacular display of colors from volcanic deposits rich in iron oxides and chlorites. You’ll see various shades  of red, orange, yellow, blue, pink and green creating a spectacular kaleidoscope effect.

Continuing north, we’ll visit Devil’s Golf Course, an area so incredibly jumbled that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.” If the weather and humidity are just right, you’ll hear what sounds like tiny pops and pings — the sound is literally billions of tiny salt crystals bursting apart as they expand and contract in the heat.

Devil's Golf Course - Death Valley - Black Rhino Expeditions
Photo credit: E. Hoerner

We’ll leave the golf course behind and head up to Golden Canyon where we’ll take a hike.

This hike into Golden canyon offers  towering walls, colorful side canyons beckoning for exploration, undulating ripples formed by ancient water, and the skittering of wildlife.

This hike is an easy/moderate one – 2 miles (3.2 km) round-trip, and involves one 3-foot rock scramble. Many hikers turn around at the junction to Red Cathedral, but those looking for a little more adventurous hike can continue for an additional half mile to the vertically fluted walls of a natural amphitheater at  Red Cathedral.

After we make it back to our vehicles, we’ll head to Zabriskie Point which overlooks the Golden Canyon we just hiked. 

Zabriskie Point - Death Valley Tours - Black Rhino Expeditions

The popular vista was built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the 1920s and was named after the company’s vice president and general manager, Christian Zabriskie. The site was originally intended as a waystop for visitors in automobiles to see Manly Beacon, the prominent landmark in Death Valley’s “Badlands”. Because of its ease of access, Zabriskie Point is one of the most photographed areas in Death Valley.

If time allows (the available daylight in the winter time severely shortens the day), we’ll make a run to Dantes View.

“I don’t pay much attention to scenery, but I know one view that made me stop and look.”

These words were spoken in 1926 by Charles Brown, a local man from Shoshone, when asked by the governor of Nevada for his opinion of the best view of Death Valley. As true today as it was then, Dantes View presents an unparalleled view of the salt flats of Death Valley below. 

At 5,575 ft above Badwater Basin, which we visited earlier in the day,  Dantes View is a favorite spot for photographers. Sunrise and sunset are especially magnificent here, and although this area is popular, it is easy to find solitude and set up the perfect shot with a short hike along the ridge to the north. 

We’ll leave Dantes View and head back to Furnace Creek for dinner and a well-deserved night’s sleep. You may even take a dip in the wonderful 87 degree swimming pool.

Day 4Furnace Creek >> Chloride City >> Titus Canyon >> Head Home

November 21, 2021 – Today is our last day at Furnace Creek. After checking out, we’ll have a 9 am driver’s meeting and head north on the 190 highway to Beatty Turn-off and head to the trail head for Chloride City.

Death Valley Tours, Black Rhino Expeditions, Land Rover LR3 on the way to Chloride CityThe trail leaves the highway and winds its way through the Amargosa Range until it reaches the old mining town. The mining ruins offer some of the oldest in the Park, dating back to 1871. The views from the cliffs of Chloride City are spectacular – Death Valley stretches out below, and in the distance you can make out Mt. Whitney.

From Chloride City, we make out way eastward into Nevada to the turn-off for Titus Canyon which takes its name from Morris Titus, a tender-foot mining engineer who died here in the summer of 1906 while prospecting with some friends.

Death Valley Off Road Tours - Lunch Stop - Titus Canyon - Black Rhino ExpeditionsTitus Canyon has a little bit of something for everyone – spectacular views, petroglyphs, mining ruins at Leadville, and an amazing drive through a canyon with 400+ foot high walls barely wide enough for a car to pass through.

Once through the canyon, we’ll get onto the pavement, and it’ll be time to head home.

We know this trip will be one of the epic trips you’ll remember and share with your friends for years to come.

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