Oh yeah baby! We have arrived at Day 4 of Trip One of this year’s MJ Adventure! It’s a run back to where we started in Lone Pine, CA, but we still have a lot to share and see!
On the third night of our Adventure, we stayed in an actual NPS Campground called Mesquite Spring. Structured camping with bathrooms! Nice! But we still had a LOT of ground to cover on this final day…visiting places like the “Ubehebe Crater”, the “Racetrack”, “Tea Kettle Junction”, the “Lippincott Mine Road”, “Jackass Canyon” and “South Pass”, before getting on the Saline Valley Road and back to Highway 190.
Wow! See that black soil? Thats all from the crater! This crater spewed rock over a 6 square mile area! The Ubehebe Crater is a half-mile across and 500 feet deep…we did not walk down into the bottom…but…I guarantee that it’s on my list of things to do!
If you have ever been to Baja Mexico and driven on the “non-paved” roads there, you will be perfectly suited for the road to the Racetrack. This is one of those roads (26 miles long) where finding the speed that works for your rig will take some trial and error. Golden Spike, my 2004 LJ, with MetalCloak’s long arm Lock-n-Load lift kit with 6 pak shocks found it’s sweet spot around 38-42 mph…other rigs were higher and some were lower…tire size, pressure and vehicle weight all play a role in a smooth ride over severely washboarded roads.
This is a long stretch of rough road to get to the area known as the “Racetrack” or Racetrack Playa, but the journey is worth the trip. Like most things in Death Valley, unique and interesting places are common. Before you get to the place of the “moving rocks”, in fact about 5 wish miles beforehand, you will pass through “Tea Kettle Junction”. The kettles contain messages from visitors around the world and in several different languages. Some teapots even have letters tucked safely inside, waiting to be pried out by curious travelers. A road sign marks it’s location…and be sure to leave your tea kettle!
To visit one of the phenomena of the desert is truly special. Visiting this area in person and observing the tracks that large rocks have made as they travel across this flat area is just fun! Freezing temperatures along with moisture and high winds enable these rocks to move great distances across this crazy flat plain…and by flat, I mean flat! It is 3 mile long and 2 mile wide dry lakebed with only 1.5″ in elevation difference end to end!
After spending about an hour on the Playa and grabbing a sandwich from the ARB fridge, it was time for the get down the road once again. The next stretch, like many of the roads throughout Death Valley, starts high in elevation and works it’s way down into the Valley, only to climb back up again! The Lippincott Mine road is only about 7-8 miles long, but it is steep and slow going…but the views are amazing either going up or coming down. More info on this road HERE.
Once back down in the Valley, its only a matter of miles back up over South Pass, through Lee Flat and along side the Darwin Plateau, before reaching Highway 190. Such an amazing place, with more to see than anyone could in a quick 4 days. And we have only visited a small small portion of the 3+ million acres that make up Death Valley National Park!
Some friends of MJ (Trail Nut) put together this amazing video of their journey with us…they even stayed with us on a portion of the 2nd trip which is shown in their amazing video! Check out all of their video on YouTube!
Enjoy some additional images in our gallery from the trip!