We joined a group of friends and some off-road racing legends for a "Raptor-ing" adventure of a lifetime. To get yourself caught up on our Raptor adventure, read Day 1 – Old Spanish National Historic Trail and Date Milkshakes.
DAY 2 - GOLD RUSH RAPTORS AND THE LADY IN RED
We awoke to a sunny hot day in the Amargosa Valley at the Longstreet Inn & Casino with anticipation of our second Ford Raptor day promising adventure and nothing short of a good time. BAJA FORGED was founded on the premise of forging your own path – in life and in all things – and today we were delighted to discover more than just our own. We shared a unique experience with our friends shadowed by the memory of many that came before us and experienced what relatively few are fortunate to know – that off-road life.
From our hotel we departed north on NV-373 to US-95 making quick time on pavement to begin our first activity of the day, dune-ing! Big Dune Nevada is a local favorite in the Amargosa Valley. These relatively undiscovered sand dunes offer an ideal place for OHV enthusiast. The Big Dunes cover five square miles and tower approximately 500 feet. We took a left onto dirt at Big Dunes Road, aired down our Nitto Tires, and with the flick of a button, switched our ULTRA4 Raptor’s drive mode from ‘Baja’ to ‘Sand’. We entered the soft white sea of sandy hills and bowls, picked our line and throttled down. Immediately we noticed the transmission shifting reliably and staying on top of the loose ground. The Raptor’s system keeping itself in lower gear providing more torque needed to gain traction while counteracting at the crest of a dune offering more speed. Our kids in the back seat squealed at every turn before begging to join the other kids who opted to surf the sandy slopes on boogie boards. I may or may or may not have had a go at it... I did. I had a go at it and it kicked my butt. Laughter was had by all in Big Dune.
From the dunes we continued on our adventure northwest on dirt parallel to the California / Nevada boarder for about 10 miles. We connected to Chlorine Cliff Rd and continued on another 10 miles towards Rhyolite Ghost town located in Beatty, NV. The town’s former residents mined ore and enjoyed an active lifestyle. Little remains of a time gone by as we weaved in and out of the gravel streets in this 1907-1911 short-lived boomtown. Stone walls of the old bank still stood without its roof and frontage, foundations and fireplaces littering the grid. Once the town’s directors voted to close the Montgomery Shoshone Mine, the town began to deconstruct and salvage any reusable material leaving the bones of the city for future generations of explorers. The most preserved building to be seen onsite is Tom Kelly's Bottle House with its presence being a stark contrast to the surrounding decay offering us a speck of cheer in this abandoned town.
After touring our day’s first Ghost Town we moved on to Pioneer Road just south of Beatty. Finding speed on fire roads up through the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park, we discovered some lesser visited Yucca forests as we climbed up into the southern region of the Eastern Sierra mountains and zigzagging across the California/Nevada state line in Inyo County. With our legendary off-road company, like Cameron Steele and Johnny Campbell, we learned we were driving on former Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno racecourse which proved to be a fun fast section with many elevation changes. By noon, we reached the top and was treated to some epic views of the valley below.
As we descended upon the scorching desert, we made our way to Gold Point, NV. Gold Point is a special place; a living history lesson with about 50 of the 225 original buildings still standing with the current town owner operating as the sheriff, event organizer and bartender to only name a few. We took a seat in the saloon and wet our whistles surrounded by decades of town artifacts like an old cash register from 1902 next to giant lottery check given to the owner in the 1980's who used the winnings to buy most of the towns historical buildings, keeping the area preserved by the support of donations. In fact, they don’t charge you for drinks in the saloon. They survive on the generosity of their visitors where tip jars are labeled “donations”. Here we took our lunch break and Curt Leduc busted out a snow cone maker and treated the group with a refreshing treat in the blaring summer heat.
After lunch we once again loaded up into our trucks and headed north to the International Car Forest in Goldfield, NV. This area is the brainchild of artists Chad Sorg and Mark Rippie, who after Sorg saw the single car standing on its nose in the sand there from another artist (Rippie) moved to the city to help him expand the “forest”. It’s truly a unique place with school-sized buses erected on theirs ends up to the sky. A perfect location for some Instafamous photos.
The sun began to set as we left the car forest and jumped on N-95 northbound to Tonopah to stay a night in one of the US’ most haunted accommodations, the Mizpah Hotel. The Mizpah shared the title of tallest building in Nevada with the nearby Belvada Building until 1927. Named after a local mine, the building predated the Mizpah Saloon, which opened in 1907 during this mining towns boom. The hotel is even said to have a ghost called the Lady in Red, her portrait hangs in the lobby. To learn more about this haunting, check out Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures Season 5 Episode 6.
Stay tuned for DAY 3 in the RAPTORS HAVE ALL THE FUN Series. We will explore Fish Lake Valley, remote hot springs, Bodie Ghost Town and June Lake. Hope you enjoy this adventure blog series and that it inspires you to go out and seek adventure on paths less traveled!
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Words and Photos: Coelette Chenier
Sources: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Wikipedia