Anniversary Mine and Narrows

The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

The Anniversary Mine and Narrows trail is truly a fun place to go and the location has a little bit of everything. This is a very short side trail found off the northern shore of Lake Mead and suitable for almost any vehicle.

Located in the Muddy Mountain Wilderness of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Anniversary Mine was founded in 1921.  The colomanite mine operated at seven years until 1928 and produced an estimation 200,000 tons of ore.  The mine is located a short ways off North Shore Road (167).  There exist some foundations, and tunnels along with some minor infrastructure of the operation.

The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Should you drive down into the wash you have the opportunity to continue on to the left, or you can turn right and drive towards the mine narrows located at the end of the canyon.  The only obstacle is right at the beginning and and easy to get past with some clearance. Once past the trail is just a wash, but do yourself a favor.  Park the 4×4 and take the time to walk it. Just past the beginning obstacle, there are some tunnels about 20 feet up on the side of the canyon wall, which are fun hike up to and explore.

Leaving the side trail from the Anniversary Mine, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Leaving the side trail from the Anniversary Mine, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

There are things to explore all along the route to the narrows and it is a great excuse the get out of the truck.  The slot canyon is about 1/4 of a mile in length and a bit tight in the few places. This is a nice place to hike on a hot day.

Anniversary Mine 4×4 Trail and Destination

Hunter Mountain Road

Hunter Mountain Road is a lightly used moderately difficult road which delivers you to one of the most remote and beautiful parts of Death Valley National Park, California. Starting at Teakettle Junction, the twenty four mile route climbs up over 7,128 feet about sea level over a high mountain pass. 4×4 is recommended and you will encounter loose rock, sand, washes and wash boards.

Hunter Mountain Road start at Teakettle Junction in Death Valley National Park
Hunter Mountain Road start at Teakettle Junction in Death Valley National Park

Racetrack valley is one of the most remove portions of Death Valley, and Hunter Mountain Road is empty compared to it. It is likely that you will not encounter another vehicle while in this area. The route is technically not difficult, however it is possible to find deep sand in a few places. There are no services in this route, so be sure to plan accordingly. Cell phones will probably not work in the area, so you are on your own.

The trail is an excellent route to see some beautiful back county. There are many places of historical interest such as mines shafts and mining camps. This is an excellent area for nature lovers, bird watching and just a great scenic drive.

The Lost Burrow Mine is located off Hunter Mountain Road in Death Valley National Park, CA
The Lost Burrow Mine is located off Hunter Mountain Road in Death Valley National Park, CA

From the Hunter Mountain trail, you can visit other fun destinations to explore, including:

A sorting screen at the Calmet Mine in the Goldbelt Springs Mining District, Death Valley National Park, California
A sorting screen at the Calmet Mine in the Goldbelt Springs Mining District, Death Valley National Park, California

Our last trip to up the trail was cut short by thunderstorms. We did an overnight at Home Stake Dry Camp and watched lightening strikes all night. When we drove the trail, it was a bit muddy and the sand was saturated with water. We had no issues from the overnight showers, but when it started to rain on us again at Goldbelt Springs, we opted to be cautious and turned around. I really would like to spend more time exploring this area.

I need a Go Pro…

Trail Summary

NameHunter Mountain Road
LocationDeath Valley National Park
Distance24.7 miles
DifficultyEasy to Moderate

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Alabama Hills

Located near Lone Pine, CA the Alabama Hills are an awesome spot to visit and explore in Inyo County.  Large boulder formations erupt from the ground and create a maze of canyons, trails and roads. This feature in itself, is more than enough fun to justify a trip to this area, however add to the equation that the Alabama Hills has appeared in more Hollywood movies than one person can name and you have the perfect combination of terrain and nostalgic history.

Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California
Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California

The location are featured in many “Western” movies and is the birth place of the Lone Ranger, Star Trek and Iron Man. A final punctuation mark is the area is located in the foothills of Mount Whitney (14,505 ft), the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

Access to the locations is extremely easy, just follow Whitney Portal Road west out of Lone Pine, and take a right turn on  Movie Road. From here the possibilities are almost endless. The BLM publishes the “Movie Road Touring Brochure” which gives directions on how to find the film locations of some of your favorite movies.

Looking down on the Alabama Hills and Owens Valley from Whitney Portal
Looking down on the Alabama Hills and Owens Valley from Whitney Portal

There is an over-abundance of camping locations within this location.  I would love to camp in this site, with the only draw back being the number of tourists driving the trails. This is actually a big draw back for me.  Most of the trails are easily accessible by almost any vehicle on the market. My last trip, we saw a brand new Porsche driving movie road.  

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

The routes are short and easy traisl, however, there are a labyrinth of roads and canyons to explore and get lost. The fun can be search for and finding the filming locations of some of your favorite movies or televisions shows..

The area is managed by BLM. Camping is allowed by the BLM, however camping should follow all rules, regulations and the leave no trace principles in order to protect this resource and camping destination. Personally, my preference is to camp at the nearby Tuttle Creek, Lone Pine, or Mt. Whitney campgrounds.

Take your time and enjoy.

Alabama Hills Trail Map

Resources

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is located on the west side of the Racetrack valley just south of Teakettle junction.    The site was started as a copper mine and during to coarse of its operation would produce lead, copper, gold and zinc.

Ubehebe Lead Mine Trail sign located just off of the Racetrack, Death Valley, CA
Ubehebe Trail sign located just off of the Racetrack, Death Valley, CA

In February, 1908 a large eight foot thick vein of lead ore which was perceived to run through the mountain changed the mines name and destiny.  In order to prepare, the site hauled in 26,000 lbs of provisions to feed and supply a crew of eight men for the duration of the summer.   When processed the order produced significantly lower than expected.  The lack of water, remote location and less than desirable returns caused production of the Ubehebe Lead Mine to be sporadic.

Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

The site currently has a main adit which is blocked off about 10 feet inside of the entrance.  Several other adits are located up the hillside and all are blocked to entry at this time.  There are a few collapsed buildings of light construction that have given their all against the harsh environment and several foundations are also evident.  An aerial tramway was built to the northern works and a single tramway cable is still suspended and connected to tramway on the ridge above.

Exploring the Ubehebe Mine tails pile, Death Valley, CA
Exploring the Ubehebe Mine tails pile, Death Valley, CA

The entire area has undergone extensive washing: bits of rail and pipe sections lie about near the mine, as do crockery fragments, pieces of glass, and tin cans that have worked down from the camp site. The several dumps nearby contain nothing of historical significance.

Looking back at the jeep, Death Valley National Park, CA
Looking back at the jeep, Death Valley National Park, CA
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Racetrack Valley

TeaKettle Junction lets you know you are starting to get close to the Racetrack.
TeaKettle Junction lets you know you are starting to get close to the Racetrack.

Racetrack valley is a rough graded road which departs the Ubehebe Crater site and heads south into the desert. The road is rough, but easily passable in a regular car. However, when entering back country areas such as this it is always a good idea to have the insurance of a reliable vehicle, high clearance, four wheel drive, etc…  Do yourself a huge favor and air down your tires if you are properly equipped to air up when the trip is over.

Looking north from the Lippincott Mine towards the Racetrack off in the distance.
Looking north from the Lippincott Mine towards the Racetrack off in the distance.

The racetrack valley road is a 25 miles one way trip to the playa. The road is grated, but can be heavily wash-boarded depending on the time of year, rain fall, etc…

Along the way, there are many side trips and alternate trails to help expand your visit.

As you leave Ubehebe Crater, you will be driving south and gradually gaining elevation. Take your time and enjoy the drive, if you are lucky you may see a big horn sheep herd. The road gradually gains in elevation and climbs through a Joshua Tree Forest.

Once you reach the pass, the road continues to drop in elevation all the way down to the playa. Continue straight through tea kettle junction, and bear left down the valley past the side road to the Lippincott mine, which is a great side trail.

The Racetrack Playa of Death Valley.
The Racetrack Playa of Death Valley.

As you continue past the road to the Lippincott mine the road drops down to the Racetrack Playa itself. The first stop is ‘The Grandstand’ which is an outcropping of rock located in the north west corner of the racetrack. The second stop is the parking area to hike towards the stones. Don’t try to hike to the stones from the first Grandstand parking lot, or you will be hiking significantly further.

The highlight of the trip, is a short hike to the sailing or racing stones. The start of the hike is the parking area at the southern end of the racetrack playa.

Jeeps and Labradors are not allowed on the playa!

To reach the stones hike east from the parking lot across the playa towards the dark stone hillside. It is short FLAT, meaning really FLAT hike towards the stones. Be sure the check the temperatures before you leave, and bring lots of water. This is true with anything you might want to do in Death Valley. Don’t walk on the playa if it is wet or muddy.

The Racing stones.
The Racing stones.

At the end of the 30 miles road there is a small primitive campground for overnight visits. Be sure to check with the National Park Service for regulations of back country camping within the park.

Every racetrack needs a grandstand.
Every racetrack needs a grandstand.
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