Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hey Guys, I had some time off as I switch between jobs so I jumped on the opportunity to go check out parts of the CA and NV Backcountry Discovery Routes. I left in the evening on Saturday 10/19 and headed out to Primm, NV where I would stay for the night and leave my truck. At Whiskey Pete's the hotel has a big lot and they don't ask for vehicle information at check in so I didn't ask if it was okay to leave it their but didn't have any problems. To limit the amount of things I needed to carry I planned my route to stay in hotels every night so I didn't need to bring anything to camp or cook. Still probably over packed but since this was a solo trip I wanted to be sure I was ready for almost anything. 

Day 1's route was section 4 of the CA BDR from Primm to Furnace Creek. I set out around 8am, looking forward to seeing the Colosseum mine, but somehow I missed it. Oh well, there is always next time, I still want to do the route in it's entirety. 


More green than I expected in the Mojave.


The foundation of something fairly large left behind, couldn't figure out what though. 


My DRZ loaded up for the trip, this was on a side road I saw leading up to some mine ruins, I attempted to go up this steep, rocky road to get to the top but after spinning and losing my momentum I decided against taking a second run at it. 


Old abandoned cabin, seemed to be remnants from a Ranch. 


Another old abandoned house, not sure why someone would live out here but now it seems to be used for target practice. 


Stopped in to China Ranch Date Farm for a date shake, it wasn't too hot but the shake was still a refreshing treat after a few hours of riding. 


Finally made it into Death Valley, this is riding through the Devil's Golf Course area. It's amazing how the ground could end up like that naturally. Checked into my room at the Death Valley Oasis around 3pm and took it easy. Had dinner at the 19th hole restaurant on the golf course and turned in for the night. If I was to do it again I would make this day a bit longer and press on to Beatty for the night and save around $100 on my hotel. Hotels in Death Valley are not cheap, but there is plenty of camping if you are doing the trip that way. Day 1 had a lot more highway and open fire roads than I expected to it wouldn't be too hard to add that extra 40 miles on. Overall I felt it was the least exciting day of my trip. 

Day 2 was looking promising though so I was excited to get out for it. It was a long one at close to 200 miles on sections 5 and 6 from Furnace Creek to Lone Pine. Early in the trip I made a stop at the Keane Wonder Mine


This was one of the more intact mine ruins I saw on my trip. You can see the remain of an aerial tram system going up and over the hill. There were various other mining remains lying around and many footpaths branching off that I did not explore. Event though I filled up in the morning I still headed out to Beatty to top off just to be sure since I had a long day ahead. I was carrying a 1L fuel bottle as my emergency backup if the 3.9 gallon tank ran out. I knew it wouldn't get me far but I was hoping not to need it. 


Looking down to where I am heading into Titus Canyon. This was a real highlight of the trip with scenic views and winding through the canyon. 


Once you get to the bottom you are winding through these narrow canyons, and it is quite remarkable. I continued on and rode past Ubehebe Crater, Tea Kettle Junction, and The Racetrack without stopping because I had visited those on a trip last year. I opted to take the harder way through Lippencott Pass and was surprised to see a road closed sign at the top. 


I headed past it to check it out and found what looked to be rental truck left abandoned blocking most of the road. 


Luckily for me on a motorcycle I could get by without any trouble and I didn't have to back track to the alternate route. The pass wasn't bad on the DRZ but I can see how it would require an experienced rider on the Adventure bikes more typically used on these routes. 


Later in my ride I was amazed at how many Joshua Trees there were, looked like more than in Joshua Tree to me. The road up to Cerro Gordo was tough, deep gravel in many spots and with my rear tire wearing quicker than expected I got stuck a couple times and had to get off to help push the bike through. Stopped in Cerro Gordo but there was no one around, I walked around briefly and opted to just press on. On the way out I noticed this old aerial tram car still suspended across this canyon. 


It was way up there so you may have to squint to see it. Headed down into the valley and finished the ride into Lone Pine. I stayed at the Portal Motel, nothing fancy but nice enough for me. Grabbed dinner at the Lone Pine Smokehouse (a little disappointing to be honest) and heading back to my room for some route planning. Day 3 is when I needed to cross over to the NV BDR to start heading back south and needed to find my own route. My plan initially was to head up to Reward Mine in the morning after failing to get there in my 2WD truck earlier this year then backtrack along the route and ride across on 267 by Scotty's Castle until I realized that the road was still closed. Went back and forth a bit before deciding to keep going north from Reward Mine onto the section 7 "expert route" until Death Valley Rd where I would turn opposite the route and head for Nevada, eventually coming to Oriental Wash and following that up to Gold Point to join the NV BDR. 

I knew Day 3 would be my longest (although I didn't know exactly how long) covering part of CA section 7, my connector, and about half of NV section 2 so again left at 8am and headed north. Headed up a side road in Alabama Hills to get a view from the top. 


I believe Mt Whitney is centered in the picture. I didn't stop at Manzanar because I had been a few times already but I do recommend the stop if you haven't been. My next stop was Reward Mine which had become a bucket list after my previous failure, I wanted to see how close I had gotten and how much more difficult it would have been. Turns out not that far and a little more difficult. Maybe could made it but probably better I didn't beat up my truck. If you aren't familiar with it, Reward Mine is a horizontal mine that is large enough to drive a car into, I have seen lifted jeeps and a stock F250 in there so it is pretty big. 


I rode in but the booming echo from the thumper and being alone in there wasn't a great feeling so I didn't stay, turned around and rode back out. It goes surprisingly far back and looked like I may have been able to continue. I'd like to get back on foot to explore more. The section of riding after this may have been the most fun of the trip, a little sandy two track with some berms built up from many vehicle tracks and lots of turns to keep you interested. I was having so much fun winding back and forth across the valley I completely missed my turn off onto the expert route. By the time I stopped to see why I hadn't come to it yet I was long passed so I made a new plan to follow the standard route into Big Pine for lunch then head out to my connector. Ended up eating at the Country Kitchen in town which was good and seemed to be the local hangout spot. Copper Top BBQ in town is also great but unfortunately closed on Tuesday when I went through. I gassed up while I was in Big Pine and it was a good thing I did because I never found the gas station in Gold Point. Off I went on my connector which was difficult to navigate without a track to follow. rode past the unmarked Oriental Wash and had to turn back. I was worried the wash might be very sandy but it wasn't bad. I passed s ghost town that I believe is called Stateline. The ruins were your standard ghost town remnants but what was most interesting was this cabin. 


Judging by the modern food and drinks left behind inside people do still stay there, maybe hunters using it as a place to stay. Google didn't turn up much about it but I did find a German blogger who visited it and said it was lived in into the early 2000's by a man who wanted to live in Solitude and has since died. Seems to be open to the public now. 


Passed some more mining ruins before making it into Gold Point. The town was full of old building and vehicles. Rode around quickly looking for the gas station. Passed a saloon with many motorcycles outside and had the urge to stop but decided to push on. I was pretty sure I had enough fuel to get to Beatty and my missed turn and lunch stop already had me behind schedule. About 10 miles from Gold Point I passed the Hardluck Mine Castle, a modern home built by another man who wanted to live in solitude. The signs said they offered tours daily from 10am-3pm for $10 but it was 3:02pm and as I said I was late already so I chose not to stop. 


You can see it there on top of the hill. I pressed on to Beatty, coming to the ghost town of Rhyolite near the town. This was one of the largest towns in it's time and had some large masonry buildings which make it unique from most ghost towns. 


The last one is Tom Kelly's Bottle House. Not sure if it is related to the ghost town or if it came after but pretty near construction and still in good shape. 


There is also an "outdoor museum" just outside Rhyolite with various sculptures spread around. Made it into Beatty for my stay at the Atomic Inn. I believe the day ended up being over 220 miles. Had a nice conversation with the hotel owner and got the scoop that the VFW had the best dinner and best bar in town. The hotel is old and dingy but good enough for me. Headed to the VFW for a steak sandwich with onion rings and a beer. Had some nice conversations with locals and called it a night. 

Day 4 was going to be my shortest, finishing NV BDR section 2 and doing part of section 1 to get back to Primm. First notable stop of the day was Big Dune. 


I didn't dare venture out into the dunes but it could be a fun stop if you're well versed in sand. Next stop was Ash Meadows National Wildlife Reserve. 

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ash Meadows is remarkable considering it is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Not what you expect to see when riding this route. 


Also within the reserve is the Longstreet Cabin. 


Longstreet was a notorious man in the west and built this cabin as a place to his from his enemies. I didn't post pictures because they don't show much but Devil's Hole is another cool part in the reserve. This is a cave which contains a massive underground lake that is home to a unique species of Pupfish only found in that cave. I believe they are estimated to have lived in that underground lake for over 10,000 years. Unfortunately the fish are very small and you can not get very close to the opening so you can't actually see them. The underground lake is also notable because the water will sway back and forth from earthquake activity from incredibly far away places, even from other continents. 

That was it for picture worthy stops on day 4. I stopped in Pahrump for lunch and fuel and started heading for Primm. Unfortunately I misjudged a deep rut to be sand as opposed to hard dirt and had a crash at about 40 mph that sent me and the bike sliding across the ground. Completely covered in white dust I checked myself over and was uninjured, then i checked out the bike and it only had a broken mirror and scraped handguard. I got lucky, so after taking a moment to regroup i soldiered on. I got into Primm and after looking at the high winds in the weather forecast and considering my crash I decided to skip my planned day 5 out and back on the CA BDR section 3 and head for home. Since I already had a room prepaid in Primm I was able to get a shower and start the drive home. I arrived in San Diego about 9:30 last night and spent this morning trying to get the dirt out of everything. 

In the end I rode 803 miles over my 4 day trip, I was happy to finish the ride with no mechanicals and no injuries. I learned a lot about navigating with tracks on my GPS and I could feel my confidence (and hopefully skill) growing each day. I'm looking forward to more multi day adventures and hopefully will add an adventure bike to my arsenal at some point but the DRZ is getting it done for now. Thanks for reading, looking forward to more riding adventures in the future. 

  • Like 4

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, simicrintz said:

And the pics aren't showing up (at least for me) :(

Darn, I've never been good at this. I tried changing to a different hosting site, let me know if you can see them in the first post now. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see all the pics. Nice write up. Section 3 of the CABDR is nice. I'm sure you'll get a chance to hit it one of these days. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done, your write up and pictures really make me want to go check it out!  

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing your adventure, and well done covering lots of open dirt roads solo!  Sounds like you had a good plan, and cool that you blended two BDR's to avoid the long grind back....  and glad the biff wasn't too bad! 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lone Pine peak is in the center. Whitney is off to the right, quarter of picture. Nice picture, beautiful day.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice pics! I've been meaning on taking a week of work to just go and ride the CABDR.  Riding alone in the desert is an interesting experience all on its own. 

Thanks for the write-up.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now