Death Valley National Park
The Race Track, Spanish Springs Arrastras, Hunter Cabin
and Saline Valley

On March 28-29, 1985, Jim White and I drove a loop trip from Big Pine, California to see The Race Track, the Arrastras at Spanish Springs, and the Hunter Cabin in the Hunter Mountain area (also see NPS Historic Resource Study) and the Saline Valley in Death Valley National Park.

At the time of our visit it was the Death Valley National Monument (created on February 11, 1933) and the Saline Valley portion of our trip was not inside the Monument. The Monument was designated a National Park on October 31, 1994 and enlarged to include the Saline Valley and other areas. For more information see this Wikipedia article.

Death Valley Race Track, Spanish Springs, Hunter Cabin, Saline Valley route map
The Death Valley Backcountry Roads (PDF) map provides more information.
CAUTION: Some of these roads can be washed out and dangerous. Make sure you have at least one full size spare tire, your tires are appropriate for 4WD roads even if you don't need 4WD, take plenty of water, extra gas, food, etc. No Cell Phone service in most of the area. Check road conditions before going. Be smart, don't become a statistic!

From Big Pine we drove east on State Route 168 to the Death Valley Road (aka Big Pine Road aka Wacouba Road), turned right on the Death Valley Road from which we had great views of the Sierra and proceeded toward Scotty's Castle and the Ubehebe Crater. Turned right toward the Ubehebe Crater on Race Track Valley Road.

Palisades from Death Valley Road - 1985
Palisades from Death Valley Road - 1985
Thumb, Middle Palisades,Kid Mtn from Death Valley Road - 1985
Thumb, Middle Palisades,Kid Mtn from Death Valley Road - 1985

Prater, Bolton Brown, Birch Mtn from Death Valley Road - 1985
Prater, Bolton Brown, Birch Mtn from Death Valley Road - 1985
Cardinal, Split, Mt Tinemaha, Taboos Creek from Death Valley Road - 1985
Cardinal, Split, Mt Tinemaha, Taboos Creek from Death Valley Road - 1985

At Teakettle Junction we stayed right toward The Race Track.

At The Race Track we continued south to the southern end where the most moving rocks are located. It has been a mystery for many years regarding what forces move the rocks. A 2013-2014 study Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion established a scientific basis.

Approaching The Race Track - 1985
Approaching The Race Track - 1985
The
The "grandstand" at The Race Track - 1985

Jim White sitting on one of the
Jim White sitting on one of the "moving" rocks - 1985
Tracks left by
Tracks left by "moving" rocks - 1985

Tracks left by
Tracks left by "moving" rocks - 1985
Tracks left by
Tracks left by "moving" rocks - 1985

Tracks left by
Tracks left by "moving" rocks - 1985
Tracks left by
Tracks left by "moving" rocks - 1985

Restored Arrastra at Spanish Spring - picture from Off-Road.com
Restored Arrastra at Spanish Spring - picture from Off-Road.com

After studying the rocks, we backtracked to Teakettle Junction and turned right on the Hunter Mountain Road through Hidden Valley.

We took a side road to Spanish Spring where we examined the three Arrastras used in early mining operations. In recent years this area has been cleaned up .

We backtracked to the Hunter Mountain Road and continued west a short distance to a side road to the Hunter Cabin.

There is a lot of early history about this location.


Spanish Springs ruins - probably site of a furnace - 1985
Spanish Springs ruins - probably site of a furnace - 1985
One of the three Arrastra's used to crush ore - 1985
One of the three Arrastra's used to crush ore - 1985

One of the three Arrastra's used to crush ore - 1985
One of the three Arrastra's used to crush ore - 1985
One of the three Arrastra's used to crush ore - 1985
One of the three Arrastra's used to crush ore - 1985

Spanish Spring - 1985
Spanish Spring - 1985
Hunter Cabin - 1985
Hunter Cabin - 1985

Hunter Cabin and meadow - 1985
Hunter Cabin and meadow - 1985
Jim White at Hunter Cabin - 1985
Jim White at Hunter Cabin - 1985

We backtracked to the Hunter Mountain Road and continued west, soon turning right (north) on the Saline Valley Road. We stopped at the Saline Valley Salt Lake which was the site of salt mining. The salt was carried over the Inyo Mountains on the Saline Valley Salt Tramway.

We continued north on the Saline Valley road to the Death Valley Road we had started on, turned left and proceeded to Big Pine and home.

Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985
Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985
Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985
Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985

Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985
Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985
Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985
Saline Valley Salt Lake mine remnants - 1985

Tramway towers for tramway over Inyo Mountains to Swansea - 1985
Tramway towers for tramway over Inyo Mountains to Swansea - 1985
Tramway towers for tramway over Inyo Mountains to Swansea - 1985
Tramway towers for tramway over Inyo Mountains to Swansea - 1985