Day 7: Scotty's Castle, Ubehebe Crater and Eureka Sand Dunes


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The Trip

The objective of the day was to make it to the Eurkea Sand Dunes at the far north end of the Park. This would require a substantial amount of wash boarded dirt road. It was tedious, but not hard. Along the way, we would pass Ubehebe Crater. The photos below are what we saw.

Our deck at the Furnace Creek Inn had a great view of the Panamint Range in the morning sun. Telescope Peak is visible on the left.

From the deck, the northern part of the valley was visible as well as the RV campgrounds at Furnace Creek.

One of the sets of sand dunes was also visible from the deck. Once we were fully packed and refilled the fuel, we headed north to Scotty's Castle.

The first view of Scotty's Castle. I will not attempt to retell the story of the Castle. The NPS web site has a good accounting of the construction of the place. The short story is that this is the kind of thing that happens when you have too much money.

The aggregate processing plant at Scotty's that was used to make aggregate for the concrete that was used in the construction of the castle.

A view of the pool that was never completed. The story is that the pool would never have held water due to the dirt bottom. But, the Castle did have a 200 gpm spring that supplied the water needs for the place.

A view of the interior courtyard of the house. The garage for the cars is on the left behind the iron barred windows.

The powerhouse and bell tower. The inside of this structure housed the hydroelectric generators and later diesel generators as well. The system ran off of 110V DC with a large array of batteries providing surge capacity.

A view of the house from the bell tower deck. Once we finished at Scotty's, we traveled west, then north to Ubehebe Crater.

This fellow had the tourists all figured out. All he had to do was stand in the middle of the road and wait for people to throw food. We nearly hit him and when we stopped, he approached the truck. We did not feed him, but the urge was strong.

It was a short trip to Ubehebe Crater. This crater is young; only 2000 years old. In fact, the local native american tribe, the Timbisha Shoshone, have legends that claim that the crater is where the devil emerged to take souls. This is a maar crater and is created when magma rises to the surface and encounters the water table. The hot rock produces steam which in turn produces a tremendous explosion. Debris was thrown for miles and a large crater with steep walls was the result.

A wide angle view of Ubehebe Crater. The crater is perhaps a 1/4 mile across.

Note the warped bedding on the side of the crater.

A view of Death Valley looking north from Ubehebe Crater. The spots near the center of the photo are a group of vehicles that are stopped before attempting the 20+ miles of dirt road that goes to "The Racetrack".

The road north from Ubehebe was a badly wash boarded dirt track. Note the dust plume of a vehicle making its way along the track. The road wound its way over the Last Chance Range into the Eureka Valley on the west side of the range.

Near the top of the pass, we encountered another abandoned mine. Note the color of the rocks.

From the pass, we had a good view of the Inyo Mountains to the west.

Our first view of the Eureka Dunes.

The extensive mineralization in the rock resulted in a wild palette of color.

The western slope of the Last Chance Range had well defined bedding that made the cliffs look like a layer cake.

At the sand dunes, there were a substantial number of folks that were either camping or just visiting for the day. When we pulled up in the mog, they all just stared in slack-jawed amazement.

The bedding in the Last Chance Range produced great contrasting colors.

We traversed around the east side of the dunes, then to the south. The dunes look fresh and undisturbed from the south.

In the distance past the dunes the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada were visible.

We made camp in a wash off of the main trail and put some wooden blocks under the front wheels to level out the camper. Since it was still light, we decided to relax, have a cocktail and check out the scenery.

As the sun set, the shadows on the dunes became longer and highlighted the ridge lines.

The deepening shadows accentuated the dune crests.

The trip to the Eureka Sand Dunes was long and bumpy, but not difficult. Since we chose not to sleep in the area with others, we had the entire place to ourselves, save one couple who passed us and camped about a mile away. Tomorrow, the other couple would retreat from doing Steele Pass. We would pass them on our way to the Saline Valley via the pass.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.