Death Valley: Warm and Saline: Ride 2, Steel Pass Road

For my second day ride from base camp in the desert at Lower Warm Springs in the Saline Valley of Death Valley National Park, I wanted to pedal up Steel Pass Road toward Dedeckera Canyon and Eureka Sand Dunes, roughly 20-25 miles distant. In January I pedaled from the dunes to the top of the canyon and a bit farther, but had to turn back in order to get out of the park and head for home. It would be a long, tough ride to reach that point from this direction. I didn’t expect to get all the way there—and certainly not there and back—but I thought I might be able to make it to the top of Steel Pass.

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They call me Old Grumble-Face. I have no idea why they do that....

9 response to "Death Valley: Warm and Saline: Ride 2, Steel Pass Road"

  1. By: BobinVT Posted: November 15, 2020

    Not gonna lie, I’m feeling pretty envious right now, especially when I think about my cloudy, subfreezing ride this morning. Your outing looks like great fun, of the Type 1 variety.

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: November 16, 2020

      Yep. As we neared Santa Rosa on the drive home we encountered pouring rain. Everyone is glad to finally have some precipitation, but I felt like making a U-turn and heading back to the sunny desert.

  2. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: November 15, 2020

    I totally agree with what Bob said — 40-50 mph winds here today, so a very short ride just to keep my streak intact.

    Very interesting site demonstrating the Solstices and Equinoxes. I’m assuming the rocks are aligned with shadows produced from a person standing, or other vertical standard in the center of the circle, at sunrise and sunset at each event?
    Summer Solstice: NE/SW at sunrise, NW/SE at sunset — Winter Solstice SE/NW at sunrise, SW/NE at sunset. Equinoxes due east/west respectively. (Assuming ASC is facing south)
    It would be a great spot to align a bicycle with the shadows along the rock lines at any of them.

    I’ll be riding solo for a while since colleague and cycling partner Dave has been exposed to Covid and is in self quarantine. Hopefully a test will come back negative!

    Great ride and photos — looking forward to Day 3.

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: November 16, 2020

      Rich, I needed you up on the knoll at the astronomical alignment of rocks. I don’t really know much about that homemade astrolabe. My info came from a desert-dwelling old-timer who claimed to have been hanging out at the oasis for decades. Of course, he also told us he has a photo of himself soaking in the springs many years ago with Tex Watson. (Tex Watson of Manson Family infamy, still in prison.) So I’m not sure how reliable our informant was.

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: November 19, 2020

      By the way, I hope Dave is doing well and back on two wheels soon. Over in Blue Mound Township, it looks like ASC’s sister and brother-in-law have pulled through mild cases of covid-19. Unfortunately, two of ASC’s friends/bandmates lost their battles with the virus about two weeks ago. Stay safe and healthy!

  3. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: November 16, 2020

    What a great spot. Wish I could just get into a teleport and go cycling there

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: November 16, 2020

      Given crappy condition of access roads over the mountains and across the desert, teleportation would definitely be the best bet!

  4. By: The Navigator Posted: November 17, 2020

    Looks like a great ride. I’ve never been able to decide which is worse: a road of that is basically big rocks or sand. My grandfather who was heavily involved in the Experimental Aircraft Association would have loved the plane on the airstrip. I always think of a desert as absent of people, but it seems there were plenty of people out and about on your travels!

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: November 17, 2020

      While the surrounding desert for 20-50 miles in every direction is probably empty, the three hot spring oases of Warm Springs in Saline Valley attract free-spirited folks in off-road vehicles, making this practically a major metropolitan center. Okay, I exaggerate slightly. A few folks, but really not crowded at all. I photographed all the bicyclists.

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