Desert Bliss - Touring Through the Mojave and Death Valley
On a Friday morning in Lancaster, CA, we had eight riders loaded up and ready to head out to the Mojave Desert to begin a 3-day dirt bike adventure. Some guys on this trip knew each other, but most were riding together for the first time. Weather was awesome, being a crisp and cool spring day, we all knew it was going to be an epic ride! The sights and scenes in the Mojave Desert and outskirts of Death Valley offer such stunning sites that are even better when seen on a dirt bike. Most people just can’t get into the amazing areas that we can and certainly not see all that we do in a single day!
We headed out near the town of Mojave on our first day. We rode lots of 2-track trails and some single track through the Jawbone Canyon area and adjoining El Paso mountains, ending the day in Ridgecrest. The riders enjoyed seeing several old cabins and mining sites such as the Burro Schmidt Tunnel. After 110 miles of dirt, we pulled into our hotel and our chase truck driver, Jennifer, had the bags waiting next to the rooms with cold drinks beckoning us. The day was capped off with a delicious Mexican food dinner.
Day 2 started off with one of our riders, Ken, losing his bike key. All was not lost, with some phone calls, he was able to fabricate a key out of a paper clip and Jennifer got him connected with the group at lunch. Having the chase truck driver helping our riders with mechanical issues, laying out fantastic lunch spreads, providing fuel/water, picking up essentials at the store for riders in between stops, and simply allowing riders to travel light for a more enjoyable journey is priceless!
The first half of the day entailed some spectacular single track that led us into the Trona Pinnacles. What an extraordinary geological landmark, it looks like you are traveling on the moon. After lunch we started into the Argus Wilderness. We first traveled on 7 miles of expert trails across the Slate Range. James Willeford (Tucker Rocky Rep) showed us some stylish maneuvers riding in the rocks. Tony Pulliam (owner of Riders Choice) almost stopped his bike on a rattlesnake while waiting for Harold and Perry to get up a hill. That made for some highpitched noises!
Our first stop after lunch was at an “adopt a cabin” named Copper Cabin. There are many cabins in these areas that you can stay in overnight on a first-come, first-serve basis. The public takes great care of these places. Throughout the afternoon’s ride, the views and riding terrain were remarkable. Along the way, we saw many wild donkeys that just stared at us. We only had one near miss where a crafty donkey surprised one of our riders by suddenly jumping off a canyon wall onto the trail. Always be ready for the unexpected! Seeing all the wildlife along the way really is my favorite part of riding in these beautiful and remote places. About 5 pm, we rolled into Panamint Springs Resort, Jennifer was there waiting with cold drinks and snacks. She had stories of her own as she helped some cross-country bicycle riders get over a very large mountain.
The evening was filled with good food, laughter and lots of stories. Bryar Holcomb (CEO of Factory Effex and former factory MX rider) was having a fantastic time. He had a story about each and every one of us on the trail along with some inventive and descriptive awards. Needless to say, this oasis in the desert put a perfect cap on our second day of riding. The third day, sadly the last day of the ride, the trails got even better. We started out early after breakfast, went across the valley and rode the boundary line of Death Valley Park. After about 40 miles, we stopped in Ballarat, an old abandoned mining town. Jennifer met us there with fuel and snacks. The next 30 miles were on the Pleasant Canyon loop and it proved to be a simply astounding ride with pine forests, swooping trails, and cool temps. We stopped to see Clair Camp, nearly 100 years old, where there was some impressive old mining equipment. It is unbelievable to think how people got this massive equipment into these locations with limited technology. It is truly a testament to the exploration, determination and goldfever spirit of our California settlers. It is certain that not many people get to see these sites due to the rugged location.
We continued on up to Rogers Pass with an elevation over 7000 feet. Here we had a view of Death Valley and Striped Butte Valley. The way back down was a fun ride where you drop elevation quickly and have awesome views of the Panamint Valley. Our last rest stop was half way down at Briggs Cabin. This cabin was by far the best of them all. There was running water from the springs in the hillside, a radio, and solar for lights and charging. A few more donkeys were at this location as well and seemed very comfortable on their steep mountain perches. After that stop, we wound our way down the mountain, across the Slate Range to Valley Wells outside of the town of Trona. Jennifer met us and had everything ready for loading up. It was time to go home – what a ride we had!
The trip was packed with memories: fun trails, great people and tasty food. All this was possible due to a well-planned adventure with great support: I led the ride, Tony Pulliam pulled sweep and we had our resourceful chase truck driver, Jennifer. Many thanks to the riders: Bryar, James, Ken, Chuey, Harold, and Perry who helped to make this 350-mile journey unforgettable.
Coyote Trail Adventures is located in Southern California and specializes in off-road dirt bike riding in the greater Mojave Desert and Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. For a list of their upcoming tours, visit their website at CoyoteTrailAdventures.com.
Looking for a way to participate in this year's LABV but don't want to ship your bike? CTA is supporting the event by offering Coyote Rider Packagages that include bike rental, lodging, food, and much more!