Archive for Destinations

Death Valley National Park for the paeontologist

Into fossils? Death Valley? Maybe guitar recordings? Check out the Fossils in Death Valley National Park website. It is another one of those ‘busy’ pages with a lot of pictures and a lot of information. Check it out.

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Thanksgiving 2011 on the Carson River

Down by Fort Churchill State Park is the Carson River Ranches. Scout Camp is set for horses with corrals and trails going up and down the Carson River. It is also a nice spot to spend Thanksgiving with a few friends.

See the photo gallery!

Too much good food; leftovers for the weekend; somewhat cool mornings – the campfire felt nice! – but pleasant afternoons; coyote choirs in the distance; low rumble of traffic on ALT US 95 on occasion; gophers trying to clean out their holes without bothering the dogs; rabbits working the grass around the edges;

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Trip report: Reno to Flagstaff to Zion and back on the extraterrestrial highway

The Baxter’s report on roads and conditions on their southwest tour in six segments:

1 – Reno to Beatty NV – Used Highway 95, good whole way, with some construction and short delays. Stayed at Beatty RV Park, small (30 +/-) spots, exceptional restroom / showers.

2 – Beatty to Boulder City – Used Highways 95 & 93, roadways good except in/near Las Vegas, lots of construction and detour. Stayed at CanyonTrails RV park. Nice facility, large, nice level sites and clean restroom/showers. No trees, lots of sun…

3 – Boulder City to Flagstaff AZ – Used Highway 93, then Highway 40, good road conditions, #40 four lane and thus easy driving. Slow gradual climbs about 35 miles outside of Boulder City all the way to Flagstaff. Stayed at J&H RV Park. Small (35 +/-) sites. Well maintained and quiet. Billed as a “senior & adult ” park.

4 – Flagstaff to Zion National Park – Used Highway 89, then Alt 89 thru Hurricane and Virgin to enter Park from West
had been informed that the East entrance via 89 was lots of turns at end and also trucks, RVs, trailers needed special permit and traffic control to pass thru tunnel. Highway 89 and Alt 89 is two lane, good road surface and a few climbs,
nothing difficult at all. Stayed in WATCHMAN campground within Park. Had electricity at each site, no water. Campground full, wanted to extend stay could not due to no sites available. Recommend reservations pretty far in advance. This campground most convenient, can walk to Park shuttle, and thus all hiking trails were available to us.

5 – Zion National Park to Caliente NV Used I 15 to Cedar City, then Utah Highway51, then NV highway 6, then NV highway 93 south to Caliente. Road surface good, a few climbs, but nothing steep. Few fuel stops available, long stretches without town or many cars. Stayed in Youngs RV park. relatively small, mostly long term people here. We we put in a site with lawn/trees. Some other “itinerant” RV’ers showed up and were put in a large graveled area, no trees, no lawn, pretty barren. All sites had full hookups with WIFI. An ok place for a one night stand,

6 – Caliente NV to Hawthorne NV Used highway 93, then extraterrestrial highway, then highway 6, then highway 95. All road surfaces in excellent condition, Long slow gradual climb (4%,5% grade for 7 miles) out of Caliente NV. Not an extreme climb just long. 190 miles from Caliente to Tonopah…No fuel available!! No ATT cell phone service available for most of the run. Must have seen 8 or 9 cars on the extraterrestrial highway.

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Boca Reservoir

Right near the Nevada Border between Reno and Truckee is Boca Reservoir on the Little Truckee river. There are a number of campgrounds there just off I80 exit 194.

The SierraNevadaAirstreams Destinations page for Boca Reservoir has links to photo galleries of the townsite, the Boca Rest campground at the upper end of the lake, and the Boca Springs campground up in the trees above the lake. There are also links to photo galleries for SNU Rallies from 2003 to 2011.

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California state parks in memory

A couple of photographers with a pessimistic (modern) outlook on things has started 70in70. They plan to visit each of the 70 California state parks scheduled for closure to create memories of what they think will be lost to future generations.

There are other options available to California but closing public recreation and historical facilities may better suit political whims. At least there’s a new blog with lots of pictures if all you can do for now is a virtual visit.

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When is spring?

One of the traditional indicators of spring is when Tioga pass finally clears for traffic. It looks as if it will be a bit late this year. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that not only is the pass opening going to be a bit late, the Half Dome climbers will also have to wait.

Heavy snow on Half Dome has also prevented crews from placing cables on
the mountain. The cables are used by hikers to help them climb to the
summit. Park officials say it’s unlikely the cables will be in place by
Memorial Day.

Another issue is the spring run-off. The Arizona Daily Star says the Colorado River runoff picture stays good. It’s about 120% of average this year. In the Sierras it is more than 150%, which is why Tioga pass will take a while to clear. Meanwhile, in Reno the pear and crabapple bloom is in full swing but the Peavine snowcap says tomato growers need to wait a while, yet.

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Middle of Nevada stopover: Bob Scott NFS near Austin pictures

On U.S. 50 just east of Austin and at the top of the twisting grade, is the Bob Scott Summit NFS campground. It is an old park which means small both in size (although it claims a 50 camper group site and max RV length of 35′) and in the size of its campsites but the price is right and it is convenient for trans Nevada tours. The elevation is 7267′ so winter is probably not a good time to visit. Coordinates for the GPS are 39.45789, -116.99453

Not too far east of this is the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area, a BLM campground and everywhere in between has a lot of opportunity for dispersed camping if you know what you are doing.

See the photo gallery!

See also the public lands information center. The reviews at have some useful information, too. They indicate a voluntary $10 fee as of May 2010. Forest Camping also has an up to date description.

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Cathedral Gorge – Nevada State Park – 2010 Pictures

When you’ve got harder rocks on top of softer ones tied in with exploding calderas and long forgotten lake beds, you get some interesting geological features. Cathedral Gorge is another spot set aside along US 93 in Nevada to see such features. It is a rather broad and flat bottom valley with some interesting colors, along with some of Nevada’s own hoodoos.

See the photo gallery!

There is a visitor center and a nice campground. At the north end is Miller’s overlook with access to some trails and views from the top end of the valley.

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Kershaw-Ryan Nevada State Park pictures

Camping is back! Starting nearly 20 years ago, an effort to rebuild to park got underway. It had been pretty well trashed by flooding and needed a lot of work. Kershaw Ryan State Park was reopened in 1997 but the camping facilities were not available until 2009.

See the photo gallery!

The park has three trails, two of which are only a half mile long. Its focus is on afternoon parties in its group areas. The state web page does say it has an rv dump station and coin operated showers. It is only a couple of miles off US 93 so it might make a good overnight stopover point.

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Lake Mead Pictures

You can bypass Las Vegas to the east if you don’t mind a scenic drive around Lake Mead. It is a National Recreation Area and you’ll need to pay a fee to enter. There is access to the lake and a number of campgrounds ranging from full featured RV parks to dispersed camping. The commercial facilities are run by concessionaires for the NFS.

See the photo gallery!

At the north end you encounter the red colored rocks and interesting geological features. You can get back to I15 by a transit through the Valley of Fire Nevada State Park (another fee) or you can visit Overton.

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Silver State Trails

The summary of Public Law 109-432 describes the charge to the BLM to create wilderness areas and the Silver State Off-Highway Vehicle Trail in White Pine County. You can see roadsigns along US 93 and NV 318 for access points.

Maps can be found at Nevada Trail Maps or you can get a Google Earth kmz file at Offroading Home (Nevada Trails).

The trails and scenic areas could make for good day trips while you are stopped at one of the several Nevada State Parks in the area. You might also find some good spots for dispersed camping as much of the trail appears to be mining and ranching road. Parts would definitely not be suitable for an RV but then there just might be some spots with roads sufficient to RV access with due care. maybe.

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Ghost Towns

Nevada doesn’t have a lot of area where economic activity can be enjoyed to grow long term roots. Ranching is well spread out due to the arid conditions. Farming is reliable in only a few spots. Transportation services tend to be at the few major crossroads. Otherwise, it is a short term thing for activities such as mining that are profitable when the price is right. That means a lot of ghost towns.

A portal to pages, links and photo galleries is on the website as Northern Nevada Ghost Towns. It can provide a start if you want to join those who make a hobby out of finding and touring these abandoned communities. Visiting them often means some significant rough road travel. The pillaging of the sites has not been kind, either, for those who want a glimpse of the past in situ.

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Down to the Mojave and back

The journey log for a jaunt down US 95, Death Valley, the Mojave Desert, and back up US 93 to US 50 across Nevada has a portal page where links, photo gallery listings, and other material is being gathered. See A November 2010 Tour, The southern desert, Colorado River corridor and US 93. There is also a page that has pictures of the great Sand Dunes in this area including Kelso, Death Valley, Dumont, and Sand Mountain.

The Colorado River Corridor along the California and Arizona border has two new photo galleries and one described previously (Quartzsite). The first one heads out of Golden Valley down to Laughlin and then down US 95 to Blythe.

See the photo gallery!

From Quartzite back up to Boulder/Hoover Dam followed Arizona 95, I40, and US 93.

See the photo gallery!

This is recreation country with an Indian Reservation and some wild country thrown in for a good old ‘Wild West’ flavor. Most of the traffic goes east and west with the freeways. The roads north and south are more ‘interesting’ which means a bit slower with a lot to see and a lot of places where you really need to stop, get out, and take a look at what is there.

The Dam Bypass on US 93 has been mentioned in a previous post – US 93 over the Colorado not like it was – It really facilitates traffic on the northern Arizona stretch of US 93 but isn’t much for vistas of the dam or Black Canyon. See the pictures!

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Fort Churchill portal update

Fort Churchill Nevada State Park is a favorite spot on the Pony Express trail along the Carson River. There are several photo galleries of SNU Rallies as well as pictures of the ruins of the fort, Buckland Station, and a campground along the river between Fort Churchill and Lahontan State Park. There are also links for additional information.

The ruins of Fort Churchill with Churchill Butte (6031′ or almost 2000 feet above the playa) in the background.

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National Park Fee Free information

If you want to plan to visit a National Park and save a buck or two, check out the Free Entrance Days in the National Parks for 2011. Also check out the Park Pass page. That’s an old page but will give you an idea of the possibilities and limitations for annual or other fee reduction plans you can find if you visit an NPS office. NFS and BLM may be able to help here as well if they have an office convenient for you.

For some, the free days might also clue in the ‘bigger crowds than usual’ thought and that might mean a time to avoid. “Here’s a tip – many of your 394 national parks NEVER charge an entrance fee. So start Planning Your Visit!”

Also note that these national parks tend to have fees for all sorts of things. Visiting, camping, viewing,  … you know how it is when bureaucrats get to spend a lot of their time sitting around thinking of new ways to collect fees and taxes. You must pay fees and you must adhere to the regulations. Plan ahead so you know what you are getting into.

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Quartzsite, Az: winter rv and rock show

This winter in Quartzsite has been a bit colder than usual what with snow in Phoenix and I15 closed and such things. That doesn’t stop the show. Snowbirds still arrived to park out in the cactus. Vendors still arrived to take advantage of the market. It is a unique winter RV experience.

See the photo gallery!

The La Posa Plain Stretches from the Colorado River Indian Reservation around the Dome Rock Mountains down to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and the Yuma Proving Grounds. Arizona route 95 is a straight north south line here with Quartzsite where it crosses I10. It is Mojave Desert and a very popular spot for folks who seek a mild winter climate for their RV lifestyle. Most of the landscape is managed by the BLM and they provide some facilities and oversight for the many thousands of RV’s camped out in the desert. The scope and size of the RV activity is something to see.

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Mojave’s Hole in the Wall

From I40 on the south to the Mojave National Preserve’s campgrounds the road is paved up to the Hole in the Wall campground and off to California’s Providence Mountain State Recreation Area and Mitchell Caverns. This is the east side of the preserve and the center for those into hiking the trails and taking off in an ATV.

Hole in the Wall Campgroung
See the photo gallery!

The holes in the wall nomenclature refers to the erosion in the rock walls in the buttes and canyons. There is a visitor center to help you figure out what is nifty to look at, too.

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Cima to Kelso in the Mojave National Preserve

The train was more concerned about grades than water in crossing the desert so the routes used by travelers on foot and in wagons was often different from that chosen for the railroad. East of Cima, the rail went around the hills while the old Mojave Road went over them. The 2000′ drop to Kelso to the west and 1000′ foot drop to Nipton to the east from the Kelso Summit at Cima still needed some extra power, which was handled at the Kelso depot.

See the photo gallery!

The Mid Hills and Providence Mountains occupy the middle of the Preserve. From Cima to Kelso and the Kelbaker road to I40 back up to Hole in the Wall from the Essex exit is all paved. The northern part of the loop is gravel. The area is criss-crossed with rough trails. Most of the area is open to dispersed camping.

For more on the history of the roads and rails in this area, see the links in the previous post, The two mission revival style RR depots: Kelso and Caliente.

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The two mission revival style RR depots: Kelso and Caliente

These two train depots are the only Mission Revival Style railway depots on the West coast. They were both built by the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad which later became the Union Pacific Railroad along remote parts of the Salt Lake City to Los Angeles route. They heyday for these depots was pre WWII. Modern railroad engines and procedures eliminated much of the need for these service stops.

See the photo gallery!

Some additional links about transportation routes in the Mojave Desert:

The desert is a place most just want to cross. When it takes a few days travel, water becomes an issue. Control over resources and routes become focused and that makes for some interesting history.

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Leaving Amargosa River Country for the Mojave

CA127 from Shoshone to Baker is the transition from Death Valley to the Mojave Desert. Near the Dumont Dunes the mostly invisible Amargosa River turns around the Black Mountains to head back towards the north and terminate at Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, the lowest spot in the continental United States at 282 feet below sea level. To the west of CA127, on the other side of the Avawatz Mountains, is the Fort Irwin National Training Center and the Goldstone Deep Space Tracking Station – restricted access areas.

The Mojave National Preserve is south of Baker. This tour takes the Cima road towards the Cima Dome and Volcanic Field National Natural Landmark. There is a trailhead between Teutonia and Kessler peaks to help guide you towards a better view of the landmark.

See the photo gallery!

The Cima road meets the railroad at Cima at the top end of a 2000′ drop in elevation over 15 miles to Kelso. That’s for another time.

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