Ballarat, Surprise Canyon, Panamint Springs

We are headed to Death Valley National Park, one of our favorite places. It is so huge you could spend a lifetime exploring it from an off-road vehicle. We’ll find out what our city living RAV4 can do.

Drove to Ballarat through Trona, a sad and dusty place by Searles Lake where potash is processed.

Ballarat , accessed by a graded dirt road, really is a ghost town with the exception of one business and a few campers.

From Ballarat we took the graded Indian Ranch Road to the loose gravel Surprise Canyon Road where the RAV4 did fine. We drove up to the abandoned Chris Wicht mining camp. We took a nice walk there and enjoyed the babbling Surprise Creek that disappears into the ground at Chris Wicht Camp.

We took the desert Indian Ranch Road back to the paved Panamint Valley Road.

We arrived at Panamint Springs in the evening and decided to camp there. Once again we had wind from the same storm and could see that it was snowing in the Panamint mountains. Due to the wind we ate dinner at the Panamint Springs Resort.


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I write about my adventures and how I enable them with great gear and maintaining my health and fitness.