Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Photos: Death Valley #3

I'm out hiking, getting more photos to share! But here is a collection of scenes from our third day of Death Valley adventures--we rented a jeep and drove Titus Canyon, then the long long road to the Racetrack--the only place known where rocks move on their own.

For those interested in how-to, the Jeep rental is at Furnace Creek (by the lodge), and it costs through the nose--nearly $300 per day, plus gas. On the other hand, the cost of, say, destroying multiple tires on your own car and being stuck in the desert can be rather higher--like your life. So if you want to drive some of the gnarlier roads, I do recommend gnarlier tires than are on, say, a Prius. The jeeps seat 4 comfortably and a 5th person if the backseat people are tough.

Titus Canyon is a one-way drive from the hills east of the Valley down to the valley floor north of Furnace Creek. Along the way, we stopped at the ghost town of Leadfield, which lasted just one year.
The jeep.

The road climbs over Red Pass (wonder why that name? :D ) before dropping into Titus Canyon.
Just over Red Pass we found some of the best flowers we saw all trip. The very red soil set them off nicely.


In Leadfield, a few building are left to explore. I believe this large shed was the "restaurant." Nice view, anyway.

Mines are what it's all about. You don't want to enter any old mines, but I shot this with a flash looking into the mine. The entrance was lined with corrugated steel, which made the interesting blue reflections.

Thanks to my sharp-eyed sons, we got a real treat--a chuckawalla, sunning itself on a rock. Chuckawallas are large lizards whose main protection from predators is to jam themselves into a crack in the rocks and inflate themselves until they are wedged too tightly to be pulled out. This guy chose to pose nicely for us.
Due to habitat loss and, I believe, a proliferation of crows and ravens come for the garbage people leave, chuckawallas are getting a bit rare.

En route to the Racetrack, one passes a famous spot--Teakettle Junction. I think it started with a single abandoned tea kettle, but now people bring them to leave, decorate them, and even ask you to email photos of yourself with their kettle!
Second Son contemplates the selection of water-heating devices.
Finally reached the Racetrack late in the afternoon. The perfectly flat playa is dry most of the time, but when there is water, it settles out the silt, making the fine mud which dries and cracks into geometrical patterns.

Finally, the moving rocks! If you want to know how and why, read this article.
It came a long way.

We did miss most of the flowers (save that section of Titus Canyon), but the cactus bloom later, so we found some beautiful beavertail cacti in bloom on the Racetrack road.

Our trip took all day--from about 9 a.m. to after 7 p.m., and used a full tank of gas. It was expensive, but totally worth it!
Copyright Rebecca M. Douglass 2015


  1. Again with the beautiful pictures and fascinating facts and interesting writing. Thanks for sharing. I found it all delightful, but my favorite was the chuckwalla, poor, but funny defense system.

    1. Thanks! I think the chuckwallas did okay until people came along and invented tools to deflate them and drag them out!

  2. 2 cars ahead of us, on our own trip through Titus, was a Prius. He made it through fine, but I do wonder how he might've fared had it rained on us.

    1. Yeah, we saw a Camry or the like going through. There was really only one olace where I wondered how they got past, but it can definitely be done. The Racetrack road is not high-clearance, but 50 miles each way with a lot of sharp rocks means a very high probability of flats if you don't have heavy-duty tires. With our seriously overloaded Prius, neither route would have been a good idea (neither was Eureka Dunes, but we got away with it).


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