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Hunter Mountain in late March? BC sites around Teakettle?

Discuss 4x4'ing, Hiking, Backpacking, Camping
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hisdudeness48
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Hunter Mountain in late March? BC sites around Teakettle?

Post by hisdudeness48 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:21 pm

Hey there! On March 20th I'm looking to descend from an overnight at Panamint City and immediately head up Hunter Mountain/Hidden Valley roads to Teakettle Junction and either head south towards Homestake or north towards Ubehebe Crater. A couple questions....

1. How are Hunter Mountain/Hidden Valley roads in late March? Any snow at the higher elevations? I'll be driving an AWD 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe. A Jeep it is not, but I haven't been stuck yet. Think I'll have any trouble on these roads in late March? Obviously storms can change everything.

2. Where are some cool backcountry camping sites between Ubehebe and Homestake? I'm considering Homestake, but I'm wondering what else is out there. I'm thinking of summiting Ubehebe Peak the next day, so something between Teakettle and Homestake would be cool, but I'm totally open to anything north of Teakettle also. Ubehebe Peak can be skipped.

Any input is appreciated! Thanks!

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TacoLand
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Re: Hunter Mountain in late March? BC sites around Teakettle

Post by TacoLand » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:19 pm

Hey El Duderino,

Some years in late March I've been able to make it over Hunter Mountain -- other years, no dice. You're going to have to check conditions online a week before your trip as you'll be at the weather's mercy the next six weeks to see if the snow melts off and what the mud ends up being like.

If Hunter Mtn. is open your best/only backcountry camping options are going to be between there and Teakettle Junction. Though I've never camped in the Hidden Valley area (yet), that should be a good place to keep an eye out for a place to crash. Camping on Racetrack Road from Teakettle Junction to Homestake is not allowed per NPS and there's too much traffic on it to be comfortable anyway. Lost Burro Mine is also off limits for camping and I personally wouldn't camp anywhere between Teakettle Junction and Ubehebe Crater due to high traffic.

I've stayed at Homestake once and dodged a bullet as it wasn't too busy, just three other solo trucks and we all spread out decent, but still not my style. A few other times I've rolled past Homestake going up or down Lippincott and it's been a "zoo" at the "campground."

I'm also trying to head over Hunter Mountain and through Hidden Valley a week after you, so if you get stuck just sit tight and I'll pull you out. :razz:

hisdudeness48
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Post by hisdudeness48 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:49 pm

Thanks for the reply, Duder. Hmmmm. Hope I can make it over. Doesn't sound like there's a lot of options between Homestake and Ubehebe besides Hidden Valley. I might just check out the Racetrack (I've never been to Death Valley) and hoof it up to Mesquite Springs for that night so I can have less driving the next day and more time for exploring. Any BC sites around Ubehebe?

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TacoLand
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Post by TacoLand » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:53 pm

No problem, man. Good news is (assuming you can make it over Hunter Mountain) Hidden Valley is very close to The Racetrack and Ubehebe Peak, and the road you'd be driving in on anyway.

So, if the way is clear you'd drive up Hunter Mtn. and spend the night in the northern end of Hidden Valley. The next morning would probably be less than 20 miles of driving before you reach the Racetrack and trailhead for Ubehebe Peak. And from there you'd have a 25 mile or so drive out to Ubehebe Crater and pavement.

I grabbed and highlighted a map with your points of interest. This might make more sense than me trying to use words. And there's a link below that with a larger copy of the image.

Image

Larger version at: http://zerominuszero.net/000/deva/Hunter-Ubehebe.jpg

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Gowergulch42
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Post by Gowergulch42 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:36 am

There is NO CAMPING anywhere in Racetrack Valley except for at Homestake Dry Camp. Hidden Valley has a lot of very nice campsites, albeit exposed to wind, except for Lost Burro Mine (no camping there, either). Also off limits is Lippincott Road and Mine, and Ubehebe Lead Mine; no camping.

No camping at Ubehebe Crater.

Hunter Mountain is one of my favorite places in the park, but in March if there's no snow, then the mud holes will be enormous. The mud holes on Hunter are legendary, and even when dry come up by surprise and give you a big jolt. Pay close attention on that road! Lots of great camping up there, and I'd recommend camping there instead of anywhere in Hidden Valley, Racetrack Valley, or Mesquite. Hunter Mountain to Mesquite is an easy drive, and Hunter Mountain to Stovepipe or Furnace creek can be done easily via Racetrack, just get an early start so you can see as much of the valley as possible in the daylight. :lol:
Check out my reports and informative ramblings at http://dvexplore.blogspot.com

hisdudeness48
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Post by hisdudeness48 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:09 am

Gowergulch42 wrote:There is NO CAMPING anywhere in Racetrack Valley except for at Homestake Dry Camp. Hidden Valley has a lot of very nice campsites, albeit exposed to wind, except for Lost Burro Mine (no camping there, either). Also off limits is Lippincott Road and Mine, and Ubehebe Lead Mine; no camping.

No camping at Ubehebe Crater.

Hunter Mountain is one of my favorite places in the park, but in March if there's no snow, then the mud holes will be enormous. The mud holes on Hunter are legendary, and even when dry come up by surprise and give you a big jolt. Pay close attention on that road! Lots of great camping up there, and I'd recommend camping there instead of anywhere in Hidden Valley, Racetrack Valley, or Mesquite. Hunter Mountain to Mesquite is an easy drive, and Hunter Mountain to Stovepipe or Furnace creek can be done easily via Racetrack, just get an early start so you can see as much of the valley as possible in the daylight. :lol:
How'd you know where I was going the next day!? That actually brings me to another question... The next day I was gonna head down to Stovepipe/Furnace Creek/Badwater to check out some of the classic stuff. Also gonna hit up Grotto Canyon on the way down. Any suggestions for backcountry camping in that neck of the woods (desert)? I was looking at Breakfast Canyon close to Furnace Creek. Saw that suggestion on Reddit. Any other thoughts?

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Gowergulch42
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Post by Gowergulch42 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:29 am

Again, all day use areas. You could spend the night at the mouth of the Canyon at Cottonwood Canyon, great view of the valley from there. Breakfast Canyon used to be a picnic area, but it's been closed for decades. Near Furnace Creek there's a few backcountry camping opportunities; Echo Canyon and Hole in the wall (after the first mile of road) have a lot of good campsites.
Check out my reports and informative ramblings at http://dvexplore.blogspot.com

hisdudeness48
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Post by hisdudeness48 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:39 am

Gowergulch42 wrote:Again, all day use areas. You could spend the night at the mouth of the Canyon at Cottonwood Canyon, great view of the valley from there. Breakfast Canyon used to be a picnic area, but it's been closed for decades. Near Furnace Creek there's a few backcountry camping opportunities; Echo Canyon and Hole in the wall (after the first mile of road) have a lot of good campsites.
Thanks a bunch. Yeah I know Furnace Creek/Stovepipe/Badwaater are all day use. Just lookin' for some backcountry camping within a reasonable driving distance of those places. Headed to Vegas the next day. I'll check out Echo, Cottonwood, and Hole in the Wall. Thanks again!

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:15 pm

Lots of spots and lots of company on the Echo road at popular times. But although hardly wilderness, fairly dispersed. There are a few very sweet spots near the Hole, and I've spent a few peaceful nights there. Beyond the Hole the road gets very rough fast.

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Post by stan » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:08 am

I was on Hunter Mountain last Thursday. We were just exploring the area and wanted to at least drive to the cabin but that did not happen. Road blocked by snow (lots of it) and a downed tree. We came in from the south, road was fine till about one mile past the turn to Sal Val and Grapevine Canyon. Then the snow appeared at about 6,400 feet. We parked the car and hiked on / off the road for about 4 miles. The snow was deep in places 2 - 3 feet which made for difficult travel "post holing" through. About two miles from where we parked, near the first spring, a big pinion tree had fallen and entirely blocked the road, once the snow clears it will have to be removed, so bring a chain saw or an axe.
With the forecast of nasty wx coming in the next few days I imagine the road conditions will get worse. The road may not be clear for some time.
We enjoyed the hike, the weather was perfect and it was good to be in DV !!!

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TacoLand
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Post by TacoLand » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:08 pm

Thanks for the update on Hunter Mountain conditions. Greatly appreciated.

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