Swiss Offroad Center

USA trip through Death Valley November 2009

Evening calm before the sunset
last rays of the sun over the desert
Tree skeleton resists the forces of nature
Sleeping space without space problems
Endless sandy paths lead through the long valleys
Not only got past the desert their tribute
on the "beaten tracks" is not much traffic
Karge enchanted landscapes
The crossroads you will not forget
A mystery in the Racetrack Playa

Death Valley, XXL convection oven

After arriving in Vacaville California everything was prepared for the Las Vegas SEMA show. George from Extreme Outback came up with the idea that I could take the Ford Excursion, of his wife to Las Vegas. So every equipment was loaded such as hand winch, Extreme Air compressor (from Extreme Outback), tire repair equipment and camping gear and lashed.
About Lake Tahoe, the legendary Rubicon Trail is located, it's about the route US395 to Bishop, which is from the north, a good starting point for filling of all stocks. In the Alpine Fireside Lodge in South Lake Tahoe, I had been on the Internet thoroughly informed about Death Valley and the important points and routes downloaded from a laptop to the GPS device. In Switzerland, we are so accustomed to pass in the mountains, but up here it goes, pretty fast to over 2000m, and then down to sea level. On the way I had also to become accustomed to the terrain in the huge dimension XXL. The Liftkit, the big wheels and the husky 6-liter turbo diesel with Ford Super Stroke engine tuning (power of 350PS) and the huge wheelbase are already substantial. For many years, here was in the valley a Borax exploration, the white gold mined, which was more lucrative than silver and gold.

Death Valley convinced the sparse nature that extreme temperatures of about 60 Degree C and little rain has to endure. The clouds lose all the moisture in the west up to 3000m high mountain ranges of the Sierra Nevada. Death Valley itself is like a convection oven. On the high mountain ranges, the heat rises and mixes with slightly cooler air and falls off in the middle of the valley again, the heat can not flow out, so the cycle repeats itself day after day until the sun sets each.

The first people 10,000 years ago have been suspected in this area. In modern times, the first miners who escaped 1849, Death Valley road and just the heat and fatigue.

Different bizarre cactus trees draw the different valleys, the copper-colored or black ground is all present. Various completely flat salt plains are spred over the national park. The best known is the Racetrack Playa, where most up to 350kg heavy blocks of stone as if by magic, leaving long tracks in the saline soil. No one has ever seen to move them and the geologists puzzled for years over this specific phenomenon. Occasionally one encounters "small" sand dunes (or Eureka Mesquite Flat Dunes), until one stands in front and noticed that compete with those loosely over 200m height with Sahara sand dunes. Small is always relative, if they are compared with the 2000 to 3000 meters high surrounding mountains.

Death Valley National Park is ideal for scouting with the SUV or SUV. Although it is forbidden to leave the set off road routes, but there are different routes for all demands to be found. In the "tourist area" should be the official camping sites are used. Off the main routes are wonderful places to sleep. With well-equipped vehicles navigating the western tracks, ski slopes and mountain passes is recommended, whereby only vehicles should come with a high ground clearance, off-road, good off road tires, navigation equipment and tailings are used. The Ford Excursion had fulfilled all the requirements, but because of extreme vehicle size and the large wheelbase I had several times to capitulate and turn around. I would have liked one of our "smaller" IBS Land Cruiser!
Since I borrowed the vehicle was travelling alone and was, I wanted to take any unnecessary risks.
Even just the taming of the mighty 350hp with torque in Low range was a big challenge. By reducing the tire to about 27psi focused on the many kilometres of slopes with considerable comfort corrugated route to the point. The accompanying compressor pumped the big wheels at eachtime in record time.

Death Valley National Park covers a huge area. In one week, you find many places to visit. As soon as one of the few "beaten tracks off the road," proceeds to tackle a few extra days is recommended.

Approach Routes:

From Las Vegas: 150km over HWY160 +178 to Shoshone

From Los Angeles: 340km to Panamint Springs

Extension of Death Valley NP.: About 80x230km

Best time to visit:
Autumn, winter, spring, autumn.
Summer is also possible with special arrangements

Special Hazards: rattlesnakes proceed to too little water in summer

National Park Cost: $ 20 per vehicle

Navigation: Garmin City Navigator USA shows 98% of all tracks

All tracks with 4WD Info:

For the more demanding 4WD-fans: Steel Pass, Lippincott Rd, South Pass 1847m, 2248m North Pass, Goler Canyon, Butte Valley (PS: Only suitable for not too large vehicles with a lot of ground clearance, snow chains in winter) will be needed

Many thanks to George Carousos, Extreme Outback Products, Vacaville, USA

Greeting by Beat Wyss, IBS GmbH

The posterior ridge is 3000m high, it observed from sea level
The fast Compressor Extreme is a dream
Up to 80m below sea level
The rear brake goes crazy on the corrugated steel runway
Without navigation system, it can be uncomfortable
Vegetation made for the scorching heat

Some beautiful panoramic images:

Stovepipe Wells for inventories and "gas"
Eureka Dunes are high over 200m
Ghosttown former miner
Driving around in the dunes will not be tolerated
on the "beaten tracks" is not much traffic
Larger wheels and long wheelbase to help corrugated piste
Images of a "different planet"
Back entrance to the National Park
In the marginal part of the day the colors are most impressive