Story & Photos by Denis & Sandi Inman
Considering that the length of the trip necessitated an early start, we had a pretty good turn out. Five Jeep Wranglers with six Pahrump Valley 4 Wheelers club members made the 4:50 AM driver’s meeting at the Horizon Market on Highway 372 and Linda Street. Our caravan reached Ashford Mill at about 6:00, began airing down and we were on West Side Road just after the official 6:16 sunrise. The group drove West on Warm Spring Canyon Road, stopping along the way at Grantham Mine and Warm Springs Mine to do some exploring.
Continuing west, we were soon at the Warm Spring Ranch where we took an extended break to wander around. Just past Grubstake Spring, our quintet took a side trip to Gold Hill and to Arrastre Spring before returning to Warm Springs Road that becomes Butte Valley Road when you enter Butte Valley, home of the famous Striped Butte.
While dining at the Geologist Cabin, we noticed a trail across the valley that appeared worthy of investigation. The map indicated it was Willow Spring. Back on Butte Valley, we passed Greater View Spring, Russell Camp and Jubilee Spring before stopping at Mengel Pass for photos. Butte Canyon turns into Coyote Canyon Road at the pass.
We turned left at Sourdough Spring and followed Myers Ranch Road to Barker Ranch where Charlie Manson was captured cowering under a cabinet. After we thoroughly examined the property, we drove back to what had now become Goler Wash Road. Continuing West, the group took another detour up the switchbacks to the top of Lotus Mine. On the way down, I spotted a rare Chuckwalla and was able to get a couple photos before he disappeared.
Back at Goler Wash Road, we exited the canyon and came to Wingate Road that eventually led us to the town of Ballarat where we aired back up. Brian, Dave & Judy along with Rick drove back to Pahrump but Jeremy and I headed for the Motel 6 in Ridgecrest where we had rooms. We arrived in time to watch the NASCAR Richmond night race and will go back to Ballarat in the morning to explore the canyons out of Panamint Valley.