We decided to rent a 4WD vehicle to explore more of the desert, with one place in particular on the agenda- the Race Track. The Race Track is 2 1/2 hours away from the Jeep rental. High clearance vehicles are recommended due to loose gravel, washboard and rocks. 4WD is sometimes required due to changing road conditions and irregular maintenance.
The drive alone is beautiful, full of cold Joshua Trees after turning onto the dirt road by Ubehebe Crater.
(Just in case it is noticeable, my boots became a temporary tripod).
The Race Track the road around the playa, a large ancient lake bottom (which used to be 30 feet deep 2,000 years ago). On one portion of the playa are wandering stones. These rocks move as a result of ice sheets which melt in the morning sun and push the rocks little by little. It used to be a mystery until recently (originally thought to be moved with wind, rain, and ice).
Once again, science takes the fun out of 'unexplained' phenomenon.
You couldn't see from the pictures and my wonderful poker face (picture face) but I was extremely frustrated. We spent an exorbitant amount of money on a Jeep and it wasn't even necessary. There were people in Subaru's on the road to the Race Track. Eric's truck would have made it with no issues. Luckily we figured out that if we continued on the road that we were on (instead of turning around) it turns into Liponcott road, which is recommended for experienced four-wheel drivers only. With a few other turns we could make a big circle, which sounded a lot better than wasting our Jeep money.
The drive was so gorgeous, simply unbelievable. We only drove by two other vehicles on Lipponcott Road, and almost on one else on any of the other roads.
The drive was pretty intense for a bit but I didn't capture it well. There were some technical portions, and I was sure glad that I was not driving.
We definitely got our money's worth. Especially since we drove 192 miles and were alotted 200.
I had read that the road through South Pass is sometimes closed and that chains are required during winter but it is remarkable how quickly the scenery changes. Although we didn't have chains the roads were not iced over and this part of the drive was easy with 4WD. In fact, we even passed an old motor home on the road. We don't know necessarily that they made it but there was one.
20 minutes later...
On the other side of the South Pass it looked like this.
Death Valley is amazing.