Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Red Rock Canyon State Park

April 18 - 20, 2016;

An easy drive today across wide open desert landscape with just a light breeze.  We arrived at the Red Rock Canyon State Park in Cantil, California before noon and found many open campsites to choose from.  They were all very scenic but some not so level, or private, so as usual it’s somewhat of a compromise.  It is a first come, first served, self check-in arrangement, there are no hookups, but water is available in spigots in the campground.


That's a prime campsite

We are on a mission this week to pick up the pace, do some hiking and get back into the natural world. It’s easy here, the views and trails are right out the front door.  It’s so quiet, virtually no noise, the loudest noise is the burner in the refrigerator and an occasional bird.  Twinkles even hiked to a small mountain top.  We then did a short hike in a wash with abundant wildflowers and great rocks, rock formations and views.  The erosion of the sandstone has created amazing spires, columns and shapes in various colors.  We did several hikes in the park, around every bend is something more spectacular, you just want to keep going on and on.

This is called the Turk's Cap

Such a range of colors and textures

Layers upon layers of colors

 The Jawbone OHV area is about 4 miles south and is immense, as in 8,500 acres, wide open, free to go anywhere your skill and machine will take you.  We drove in and to our surprise found a wide paved 5 mile long road into the OHV area with miles and miles of trails and camping areas all along its length.  There was virtually no one there, but it must be a crazy place during the peak of the season.  These people are insane to go up some of these near vertical runs !  There is a giant pipe line running through and over the mountains which is the Los Angeles aqueduct, an amazing engineering and construction project.

A few of the lower trails, the pipeline is more impressive

The Jawbone general store is strategically located a short distance away and after risking your life on these trails you need to go to the beer garden.  This place seems to be a mix OHV and biker bar and must be real blast on a weekend when they have a band. 

The OHV and Jeep roads around here are about endless, but it’s highly recommended to have a good map and carry plenty of water and food as many of these roads are remote.  We did the Iron Canyon Road which was very scenic, but also a thrill ride in places, they rate it as easy.  Twinkles said it was OK, her brain didn’t rattle around too awful much.  The Jeep does ride rough and the road was rocky!  
Of course, the next day she said, No Way !, when I suggested a 14 mile roundtrip ride to Burro Schmidt’s Tunnel.  In the early 1900’s William H. “Burro” Schmidt arrived in “Last Chance Canyon” and starting mining.  In 1906 Schmidt starting tunneling by hand through Copper Mountain as a means to transport his ore to the railroad on the other side.  It took him 32 years to complete this 2,087 foot tunnel which he never did use for that purpose.

Rock formation off Iron Canyon Road

Miles of emptiness

The Burro Schmidt homestead

Looking into the tunnel, note the signature board

After getting out of Last Chance Canyon, I decided to ride the paved road to the old mining town of Randsburg.  Mining activity both old and more recent is evident all around Randsburg and this town is a gem in itself.  The main drag is vintage old mining town resurrected into a shopping, dining. lodging and tourist attraction.  It’s not far off route 395 and must be seen, I just wish something would have been open on a Wednesday afternoon.  The ancient and honorable order of E Campus Vitus, one of my favorite organizations, appears to centered in this area.

Hole in the wall mercantile store

White House Saloon

Old general store and restaurant

Twinkles puts Red Rock Canyon State Park up as one of her favorite camp grounds to date and I agree, it’s a special place.

Another quick post will follow in a day to day, watch for it.

Next stop is into the “Valley of Death” or Death Valley National Park,
Twinkles and Slick 

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