Before leaving Pahrump Nevada we decided to take a scenic drive to see a few sights in the area and hopefully do a little hiking along the way. The total distance of the loop I planned was about 105 miles so we got an early start and hit the road…
The drive west on the Bob Ruud Memorial Highway once again took us past the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The drive through the basin and desert ranges was pleasant as the vegetation (typical of high deserts) ranged from fairly abundant to extremely sparse as we near the boundary of Death Valley National Park in California.
Once we made it to Death Valley Junction in California we took 127 south. We made an interesting stop at the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel which was right smack dab in the middle of nowhere! A New York City girl moved to Death Valley Junction in 1967 and converted an old social hall into her own theater. This place was rocking for some time but crowds have steadily diminished even though there are still weekly shows occurring.
While we did walk around the hotel and the opera house we didn’t take the tour inside the opera house. After reading more about her story I am thinking maybe we should have. Oh well, there is always next time, right? Anyhow we continued our loop drive along the border of Death Valley until we reached the town of Shoshone California.
We stopped in Shoshone to check out the Shosone museum near the Crowbar Café. The museum is free (donations accepted) and is small but has some very interesting exhibits. Outside of the museum is an old car near some antique gas pumps and other interesting artifacts of antiquity. There are also a series of loop hikes behind the museum.
One is marked by blue poles is is less than a mile loop hike. It began right behind the museum and took us through what looked to have been a dump area for locals as there were shards of glass and pieces of metal strewn about. Then we entered a carved path of sagebrush and walked around through the Amargosa river bottom (it was mostly dry). There were interesting birds about but the hike is not one I would highly recommend even though it was nice to stretch our legs.
Leaving Shosone we drove though Tecopa California and even though we noticed several RV parks there was absolutely no Verizon cell or WIFI signal. We drove a bit out of town looking for the China Ranch Date Farm. This turned out to be the highlight of the trip. The ranch is a real oasis in the desert with palm trees and lush vegetation as there are active springs in the area.
Even better is there were some fantastic hiking trails which made us wish we hadn't wasted our time hiking in Shoshone. We took a short hike down to the spring and alongside a skinny trail along a mountainside trying to get to a canyon. The ground was very loose and with a precipitous drop of 20 or more feet so we elected to turn back. There were calcite crystals everywhere along this trail.
We stopped and chatted with a couple of hikers and one of them taught math at Texas A&M University when I was there… small world! We finished the hike and returned home making note of what cool hiking opportunities exist at China Date Ranch.This was a road treat we hope to spend more time exploring once we return to this area. Our stay in Pahrump was enjoyable but it is time to move southward to our reserved time in San Diego.
NOTE: We are now in Hemet California until the 30th and then will move to Temecula California for a few days.