Death Valley - Marble Canyon & Chloride Cliffs

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by levity, Mar 14, 2016.



  1. levity

    levity Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Irvine
    Name:
    Larry
    Current Bike:
    Pivot 429T
    Death Valley is having a “super bloom” of flowers due to unusually heavy rain in the Fall (~3” in one October storm), so mrs levity and I decided to check it out. DVNP is huge, ~5,000 square miles, so the best way around is on dual sport motorcycles. However, bicycles are great to see things up close, and we took our 6fattie (27.5+) bikes to deal with soft sand and loose terrain. We decided to check out Marble Canyon since we’d never been there and Chloride Cliffs in case the late bloom was better at higher elevations.

    We were able to get in a couple of short rides to Mustard Canyon and 20 Mule Team Road after arriving at Furnace Creek the afternoon of March 8. There were a few flowers in the normally dry section heading over to Mustard Canyon, but heat and wind the previous week had taken a toll.

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    We made it over to 20 Mule Team Road just before sunset. Only scattered flowers in the dry canyon, but fun and scenic riding on the smooth surface.

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    The next morning we drove over to Stovepipe Wells to ride up to Marble and Cottonwood Canyons. There were a few flowers along the way but this area is in the rain shadow of the Last Chance Mtn Range and is pretty dry. The first part is a 5 mile slog thru mostly sand, then a gradual but slow 4 mile climb across the alluvial fan at the base of the mountains before entering the canyons themselves. The fat tires were great, but some deeper sand sections were still challenging. (It would have been very tough on my 29er with its skinny 2.3” tires.)

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    Finally turning up into the canyon area, with a nice view back toward the valley.

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    There was a deep, but sadly short canyon before entering a high valley.

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    We took the split to Marble Canyon rather than Cottonwood, and a few more miles of climbing brought us to where the canyon finally closed in again. Unfortunately, access to the narrower section was closed to bikes and vehicles.

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    Since it was getting hot, ~90°, and we still had to face the sand at end we decided to just roll back rather than hike up the canyon. The downhill part was fun - apx. 6 miles with no pedaling required - it was just over too soon!


    Here’s a picture of our motel at the Texas Springs Campground and, in the spirit of Advrider.com where meals are featured almost as much as the riding, our reward for the Marble Cyn ride.

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    Day 2 was a hiking/recovery day. We strolled up Gower Wash to the spillover slot just past the Zabriskie Overlook. Lots of neat geology, mines, etc., but we intentionally left the cameras behind and just enjoyed exploring.


    The next day we were off to the Chloride Cliffs area. The drive toward Daylight Pass took us on the Beatty Cuttoff Road where there were nice flower displays across the alluvial fan. Here’s a view from the highway with the Funeral Mtns and Chloride Cliffs in the background.

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    Here’s the start of the road off the highway. Lots of flowers here at elevations above 3000’.

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    It was fun riding all along the trail, and conditions were hardpacked enough that they would be fine on a “non-fat” bike. Here’s a view north toward the Grapevine Mtns from one ridge. The ride started from Daylight Pass Rd in the valley near the top center. Corkscrew Peak (5800’) is on the far left.

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    Further up an even better view again looking north. Mt. Palmer (7900’) and Grapevine Peak (8700') lie behind the range across the valley. Looking west you could just make out the snow-covered Sierra crest to the west, but clouds blocked most of the view.

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    A view east over the Amargosa Valley toward the Yucca Mtns. Beatty and Rhyolite are hidden behind the butte on the left.

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    Some weather was coming in and we headed down. Back at Texas Springs camp we were treated to sun on the hills and a rainbow against a darkening sky

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  2. rossage

    rossage MTB Addict

    Location:
    East Sacramento
    Name:
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    Highball
    Love Death Valley. Amazing when the flowers bloom like that.
     
    levity, Mikie and mike like this.
  3. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist MTB Addict

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Gunnar Rockhound 29
    A great mini-vacation! Always bring bikes along!
     
    levity, Mikie and mike like this.
  4. scan

    scan MTB Addict

    Name:
    fran allas
    Current Bike:
    trek ex 7
    That's quite the vehicle you have!!!
     
    herzalot, levity and Mikie like this.
  5. siata94

    siata94 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    lake forest
    Name:
    siata
    Current Bike:
    lazy goat
    as usual, awesome pics.
     
    levity, Mikie and mike like this.
  6. mike

    mike MTB Addict

    Name:
    Mike O
    Fantastic outing and reportage. You guys aced that one in fine style. Thanks for posting! :thumbsup:
     
    levity, ridinrox and Mikie like this.
  7. Mikie

    Mikie MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    2012 Yeti ASR 5c
    Excellent report and pics!
    It's nice to break away from the traditional...
    Well done and thanks so much for taking the time to post this...
     
  8. jaime

    jaime MTB Addict

    Location:
    Corona, ca
    Name:
    jaime
    Current Bike:
    '15 Giant reign advanced 1
    Thanks a lot for sharing your ride-pics-report with us !!! It is beautiful !!
     
    levity likes this.
  9. ridinrox

    ridinrox MTB Addict

    Location:
    Murrieta
    Name:
    Roxanne
    Current Bike:
    '11 Turner 5-Spot
    Wow just wow!! I don't know what it is about desert riding but I freakin love it!! Maybe cuz the conditions are so harsh yet delicate life can still prevail...just awesome.

    Enjoyed your report and beautiful pics, thank you....
     
    levity likes this.
  10. rojomas

    rojomas Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Kookamongus
    Name:
    Oxx
    Current Bike:
    Carbon Intense Tracer 275
    Cool report.
    I was out there last week too.FB_IMG_1458069233343.jpg FB_IMG_1458069204282.jpg FB_IMG_1458069255489.jpg FB_IMG_1458069214778.jpg FB_IMG_1458069052921.jpg FB_IMG_1458069064605.jpg FB_IMG_1458069270887~2.jpg



     
  11. levity

    levity Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Irvine
    Name:
    Larry
    Current Bike:
    Pivot 429T
    Nice pics, Rojo! Now we just need a botanist to help identify them.

    Were you on your bike? We saw a few motos but no mtb types in the backcountry.
     
  12. sir crashalot

    sir crashalot Well-Known Member

    Location:
    laguna beach
    Name:
    gary fishman
    We went there in march 2005, the last superbloom, was so incredible. Also the salt flats were a lake!
     
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