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Will I be rained out again?

Walnut Creek...
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526 posts
329 reviews
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Will I be rained out again?

The last time my domestic partner and I went to DVNP, we couldn't do two things we wanted to do, due to being rained out of going to Artists' Drive and Titus Canyon. Not only did it rain on us, we actually got a dumping of snow at Dante's View. As I recall, we couldn't even drive to the Racetrack. We ended up driving to the Eureka Dunes, though. It looks like the weather forecasts an 80% chance of rain on Friday. Does that mean we won't be able to drive on Titus Canyon or Artists' Drive on Saturday? I do have a 4WD Ford Escape, but I don't want our Escape to be Trapped in the mud!

We've also visited Badwater, Zabriskie Point, the Cornfield, Mosaic Canyon, and Ubehebe Craters. Another issue I should mention is that, due to recent shoulder surgery, my right shoulder is in a sling, so I don't want to be in a place where I would need to quickly climb up somewhere in case there was a flash flood. What are rainy day possibilities? I also prefer no long hikes, since my domestic partner would have to be carrying water for the both of us. He is not interested in visiting Scotty's Castle (and I've already been there).

I'm thinking of writing my U.S. Representative to suggest we rename this park the New Belgium Always Raining National Park! (just kidding)

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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1. Re: Will I be rained out again?

We’d like to be able to reassure you, but we aren’t prophets, so it’s pretty hard to project how the rain that’s forecast might affect your trip. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Titus Canyon and Artist’s Drive are vulnerable because of the dirt surfaces higher, damper climate for the former, and the many dips in the road for the latter.

The best way to avoid having to scramble out of a wash or canyon to escape a flash flood is to not be there in the first place. That means staying posted on the weather forecast and also occasionally glancing at the sky in case something unexpected comes along. If you’re in a spot that could get flooded and you feel a few raindropd, it’s prudent to get to higher ground then and not wait, because we can’t outrun a flash flood.

Where are you coming from?

If it rains in the Valley proper, it’s likely to be wet along Emigrant Pass and Wildrose as well, so I won’t suggest a lot of things there.

You could go to the west side and see Father Crowley Vista Point and the Panamint Dunes, maybe dine at Panamint Springs, and even go into Lone Pine and see Mt. Whitney and the movie museum. Along the way is Owens Lake, now a desert marsh that’s being harvested for minerals, but once a navigable lake. The lake dried up when the waters of the Owens River were diverted to supply the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The town of Keeler is by the lake; it isn’t quite a ghost town, but it’s close. Along Panamint Valley Road are several ghost towns: Ballarat is on the west side of Panamint Valley and the lesser known Modoc and Lookout are on the east side. I’ll let you look these up and decide if you want to try to go there.

Farther away, but usually accessible to 4wd unless the weather is really bad, are the Trona Pinnacles. This is a portion of the Searles Lake bed that is now dry, and the pinnacles are tufa (like at Mono Lake) formed from mineral deposits from the lakebed. There is a road among the spires, and you can camp or hike anywhere. The only services there are a graded dirt road and an outhouse. Trona is also an interesting town, even if it doesn’t seem to be at first glance.

Walnut Creek...
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2. Re: Will I be rained out again?

Sorry. I should have mentioned: we're spending Friday night in Ridgecrest and have 8:45 PM dinner reservations in Las Vegas. By the way, thank you Frisco Roadrunner. You're an angel.

Edited: 12 April 2012, 04:46
Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Will I be rained out again?

My wife and hiked Mosaic Canyon in the rain on our first trip to Death Valley in January 2010. There was just a little trickle of water in it, but after we had hiked in a quarter mile or so, the rain picked up and the trickle became a more noticeable stream. We high-tailed it out of there and had no problems (but it was closed the next day, so evidently there was some damage from runoff).

I don't necessarily recommend doing what we did, and you definitely don't want to plan a long hike in a slot canyon if there is any chance of rain in the area. If you keep your eyes on your surroundings however, and exit at the first sign of trouble, then it is certainly possible to avoid scrambling up to get out of harm's way.

Note that Mosaic Canyon has a rim trail also. I hiked a section of it on our second visit to DVNP in November 2010. I scrambled up to it from somewhere in the first narrows - don't know if there is an easier access point near the parking lot, but it might be worth asking about at the Ranger Station.

Enjoy your trip - Death Valley is a spectacular place, wet or dry!

-JimG

4. Re: Will I be rained out again?

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