Monday, October 7, 2019
From Stovepipe Wells, we took CA-190 west to Scotty’s Castle Road. On Scotty’s Castle Road, we headed north toward Scotty’s Castle.
Scotty’s Castle has been closed since major flooding occurred in 2015. Scotty’s Castle is currently scheduled to reopen for visitors in 2020.
Before the turn at CA-267, the road Scotty’s Castle is actually on, is the turn for Mesquite Spring, a National Park Service Campground at 1,800 feet elevation.
Mesquite Spring, a boondocking campground, has flush toilets, a place for RV’s to take on potable water and a dump station. Currently, Mesquite Spring is open year round but doesn’t take reservations.
This campground has recently been repaved, including campsites, making it ideal for RVs.
Back to Scotty’s Castle Road, we turn left to continue northeast toward Ubehebe Crater. Above, you can see that CA-267, the actual road that Scotty’s Castle is on, was still closed.
Across from the barricaded road is Grapevine Ranger Station. It was closed as well. We used their bathrooms which were, thankfully, open.
To the right of the Ranger Station was a display explaining the flood that wiped out the Scotty’s Castle area.
Ubehebe Crater is northwest, at the end of Scotty’s Castle Road. The crater is unusual in that it was created by an underground steam explosion.
A trail goes around the crater’s rim. This trail includes Little Hebe Crater. Including Little Hebe Crater, the rim trail is around 1½ miles. The rim trail can be difficult as the trail covers areas of loose and/or deep sand/gravel.
Another trail leads down to the Crater’s bottom. The bottom is roughly 650 feet below in elevation and once down, one would have to climb back out. Not something we were ready to do on a hot afternoon.
At Ubehebe Crater, is one of two routes that can be taken to The Racetrack, an area of the park where rocks mysteriously leave trails as they scoot along the valley floor.
By all accounts, the road to The Racetrack is a hard road to drive on. Coming from Ubehebe Crater, the road is high-clearance four-wheel drive recommended with a notation on the map “Sharp rock. Requires heavy duty tires.” Similar roads in Texas are more specific about tire requirements. H rating or better. Ten ply plus on tread and at least three ply on sidewalls. Not a good road for a typical SUV or pickup.
Caution: Rough and Remote Road
The road to the Racetrack is rough, and good tires, 4×4 and high clearance are usually required. Standard rental vehicles are not recommended, and often get flat tires. Use extreme caution on this road in the summer heat. There is no cell phone coverage in the area. Drive time from Furnace Creek is at least 3.5 hours each way. Other access roads make for even longer and more remote adventures. Driving offroad is strictly prohibited.
The other route, coming up from South Pass is probably worse. “In winter carry chains. Road may be closed.” This road is four-wheel drive required.
We are saving The Racetrack and Scotty’s Castle for a future visit.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!