giant off-road loop - Am I crazy?

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netllama
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giant off-road loop - Am I crazy?

Post by netllama » Mon Dec 18, 2006 5:08 pm

Greetings,
I'm in the early stages of planning a DV trip for late April 2007 (i'm going to be out there next week too!!). I'm considering doing a huge loop through the northern part of the park:
* Start at Grapevine
* Go north on the Big Pine Road up past Crankshaft Junction, and then west to the Eureka Valley turn off.
* Take the Eureka Valley (road?) south past the dunes, over Steel Pass all the way to Saline Valley Road
* Take Saline Valley south to the Hunter Mtn Road (or maybe Lipincott instead?), and then cut north towards the Racetrack
* Take the Racetrack Road north back to Grapevine

My big questions about this itinerary are:
0) Is this crazy, or is it doable in an SUV with 4x4/high clearance (but no other modifications)?
1) How much time would this route require under good weather/road conditions?
2) I've read conflicting stories about Lipincott Road. Some folks say its not too bad these days, and doesn't require ridiculous amounts of 4x4/offroad experience. Others say its still one of the most challenging, difficult roads in DV. I don't have any hard requirement to drive the road, other than the possibility that it might be shorter/faster than going around Hunter Mtn up to Tea Kettle Junction, down to the Racetrack, and then backtrack all the way back north again.

Many thanks!

Scott
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Post by Scott » Mon Dec 18, 2006 6:03 pm

Totally do-able in any sort of 4x4.

Lippincott is one of the most challenging, difficult roads in DV.

It requires NO amount of off-road experience. (in other words, it's pretty easy. I wouldn't do it in a sedan, though.)

As for time, I'd say a few weeks would be about right. If you're planning on doing that route in 2 or 3 days, then in my opinion you'd be much better off just going straight to the visitor's center, buying one of the Death Valley videos for sale, taking it home and watching it. Watching that much scenery roll by through your dusty, bug-spattered windshield while worrying about getting enough miles in before sundown would be a miserable trip. It's just too beautiful to rush through at 30 mph.

Be prepared for WIND! April winds can be phenomenal out there. Higher up you can get snow, rain, or 80 degrees and cloudless - anything goes.

You'll have a great trip -- just take is s-l-o-w and smell those spring wildflowers! Every one of them!

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Post by Thom » Tue Dec 19, 2006 3:18 pm

That is a good loop. It can be done in a few days. That allows for moderate picture taking and wandering. Not much for hikes.

I go there every April as part of a reunion of sorts. We do a big loop like that. We do it in three days (starting from the PV area in the early morning. Late April can be hot in the Valleys, with some wind.

Don't listen to the person that said "NO" experience is required for Lippencott. That is utter negligencfe and foolishness making a statment like that 5 months in advance. Same goes for even for Saline Road (ruts and washouts)

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Post by Kelly » Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:54 am

My boys and I made close to the same loop about two years ago. Instead of heading back North we exited at Cerro Gordo. I was driving a Chevy Suburban. It took about three days. I don't mind breaking camp early and running 12 + hour days. We were able to sleep in the burb, so we didn't have to set up much for camp. I would start off in the morning while the boys were still sleeping. We were able to climb the Dunes, explore Mines, check out the hot springs and still cook great dinners.
I can't take a lot of time off so I try to fit as much as possible into each trip.
Kelly

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Post by B-spec » Mon Jan 08, 2007 8:37 pm

Scott wrote: Lippincott is one of the most challenging, difficult roads in DV.

It requires NO amount of off-road experience. (in other words, it's pretty easy. I wouldn't do it in a sedan, though.)

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Post by MountainBiker » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:36 pm

Scott wrote:Lippincott is one of the most challenging, difficult roads in DV.

It requires NO amount of off-road experience. (in other words, it's pretty easy. I wouldn't do it in a sedan, though.)
How does it compare to traveling west over Mengel Pass? That last little uphill rocky pitch just before the pass was beyond my limited experience and vehicle capabilities a couple months ago. Just a lifted Subaru Forester.

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Post by David_Bricker » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:13 pm

MountainBiker wrote: How does it compare to traveling west over Mengel Pass? That last little uphill rocky pitch just before the pass was beyond my limited experience and vehicle capabilities a couple months ago. Just a lifted Subaru Forester.
Lippencott is much longer than the tough part of Mengal Pass, but for the most part, Lippencott is more easily done. A lifted Forester would most likely make Lippencott; the only problem I would see is the big potential of overheating the brakes due to a lack of low range. Lippencott is literally a crawl (5 MPH) nearly the entire way down.

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Post by B-spec » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:29 pm

MountainBiker wrote:
Scott wrote:Lippincott is one of the most challenging, difficult roads in DV.

It requires NO amount of off-road experience. (in other words, it's pretty easy. I wouldn't do it in a sedan, though.)
How does it compare to traveling west over Mengel Pass? That last little uphill rocky pitch just before the pass was beyond my limited experience and vehicle capabilities a couple months ago. Just a lifted Subaru Forester.
Funny you mentioned Subaru Forester.. I actually did Lippincott in a stock Forester about 7 years ago.. It was a little smother then but it was still a challenge.. I went Down it.. You should be fine with a lift.. Let me know when you plan on going at it.. I am based out of PSR and would love to tag along..:)

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Post by MountainBiker » Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:49 pm

B-spec wrote: Funny you mentioned Subaru Forester.. I actually did Lippincott in a stock Forester about 7 years ago.. It was a little smother then but it was still a challenge.. I went Down it.. You should be fine with a lift.. Let me know when you plan on going at it.. I am based out of PSR and would love to tag along..:)
Sure! I don't have any firm plans for my next trip to Death Valley, but I hope to get back there in '07

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Post by MountainBiker » Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:51 pm

David_Bricker wrote: Lippencott is much longer than the tough part of Mengal Pass, but for the most part, Lippencott is more easily done. A lifted Forester would most likely make Lippencott; the only problem I would see is the big potential of overheating the brakes due to a lack of low range. Lippencott is literally a crawl (5 MPH) nearly the entire way down.

David Bricker / SYR
Yeah, that is a distinct downside to not having a low range. I have an automatic trans, which helps on the uphills, but makes engine braking even worse on the downhills!

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Post by Tree » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:50 pm

I have done it in one day. It was quite the nightmare, It was me (81 toyota, lockers, 37"s) a 85 cj5 (rear locker, 33"s) a 85 chevy (33"s, open) and a 98 chevy (stock). Except for the beating of the rigs to make up time, some of our group decided not to bring the proper equipment :angry: , the road was not too bad. That being said, a two day trip would be perfect.

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Post by Albin » Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:02 am

My son and I did a round trip from Beatty - Saline Valley - Hunter's Cabin - Racetrack - Lippencott Road - Saline Valley - Eureka Valley/Dunes in two days last summer. We camped at the SV Palm Hot springs for the night.

Except for the narrowness and steepness of the road, Lippencott was no big deal. We went down it from Racetrack to SV.

The hardest road to travel turned out to be the main Saline Valley road just west of the marsh area. Due to all the rains this summer, it was washed out. The second hardest was 2 miles of the non-existent (then) trail from the Upper Saline Valley hot springs to Steel Pass, also wiped out by the rains. Both are probably OK now.

Pics: http://www.rocketcityrockcrawlers.com/p ... /index.htm

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Post by Older Fossil » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:53 am

I've done that loop in one day, but would not recommend it.

At Thanksgiving about 4 years ago, a group of three Jeeps left Mesquite Spring CG, to Eureka Dunes, over Steele Pass, down Saline Valley, up Lippencott, and back to Mesquite past the Racetrack. We got to the Lippencott turnoff about sunset and it was dark by the time we got to the top. Driving out the very washboarded Racetrack Road in the dark was a huge PITA. About the only exploring we did, was to walk to the "Marble Bath". You'd have a little more daylight in April, but still would have to be driving nearly constantly. It would be a much more pleasant trip if done in at least 2 days.

Art

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Post by greatbasinguide » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:55 am

Hunter Mountain could have snow on the road, depends on what happens this winter.

Lippincott also depends somewhat on how much rain, if it has wash outs it gets trickier.

I have taken a full size Dodge Pickup with kids in the bed up Lippincott with no problems, I have also come down in a Dodge Raider with a fair pucker factor due to wash outs. My son who was 6 then said he closed his eyes, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I did also:)

The roads will beat you up, might as well take a couple of days, take a soak at Saline.

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Post by netllama » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:22 pm

Just to close the loop on this thread that I started over 2 years ago, I ended up doing this loop over the course of 2 days, last October. Trip report starts here:
https://netllama.linux-sxs.org/llamalan ... g-dar.html

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