Sierra Rec Magazine – February 2022 – Sometimes you just get lucky on who you know. I recently was invited by a friend who has rebuilt a International Scout from the 70’s and was going on a 4×4 adventure trip with other scout owners across the country into Death Valley. One of the biggest highlights of the trip was an evening driving the Titus Canyon Narrows, crossing over the grapevine mountains and Reds pass along the route.
Check out this highlight video on our YouTube Channel for a reference.
Titus Canyon Narrows
Titus Canyon has it all—rugged mountains, colorful rock formations, a ghost town, petroglyphs, wildlife, rare plants and spectacular canyon narrows to finish up your trip. Located on the Eastern boarder of the park you actually get tot eh pass by exiting the park towards Beatty Nevada. The dirt road excursion starts near the Rhyolite Ghost town. This 27 mile excursion is available for most vehicles with standard clearance, but please not that some areas are fairly rugged and not recommended for all vehicles.
The crew we were with were from all over the US, and seemed to be well adapt to setting up their rigs for an a enjoyable and safe ride through the mountains. Stopping at the entrance of the dirt road to deflate tire pressures so that they could have a smoother ride. the crew of 10 International Scouts and one suburban and one Motorcycle headed out on this 3 hours drive over the Grapevine Mountains.
I was stunned at the beauty of the Grapevine mountains as we climbed over various passes and canyon lands.
At White Pass the road enters upper Titanothere Canyon. Colorful rock deposits along this section contain fossil beds 30-35 million years old. The fossil skull of a huge, rhino-like titanothere was found here in 1933.
Red Pass (5250’elev.)
The highest point on the road is this divide between Titanothere and Titus Canyons. Stop to enjoy the grand view in both directions. Red’s Pass was jaw dropping as you climb up and crest overlooking Death Valley and the Titus Canyon Narrows a below. This is where you also find the Leadfield Ghost Town.
The ghost town of Leadfield “boomed” for less than a year in 1926-27 because the lead deposits bottomed out quickly. All that is left today are a few shacks and a number of mines. Many of the mines are open, but enter at your own risk. Loose rocks, rotten timbers, unexpected vertical shafts, and animals seeking shelter are potential hazards.
Entering the Narrows
Shortly after passing by Leadfield, the canyon walls start to come closer to the raod. The sunlight at this time was getting interesting as the sun was beginning to set and would disappear around canyon corners only to explode again in the windshield on the next turn. Dust flying had streaks of sunset light made for a beautiful canyon experience.
The Narrows at times close into about a total width of 20 feet. Definitely feels tighter in several corners. the walls are smooth and rounded like they were carved by water many years ago. Stopping on several occasions to get out and take pictures this section of the canyon was just simply epic.
Getting darker the road called our crew onward to one of the most spectacular sunset sky lines in death valley, that I have seen. The final turn into the valley is memorable experience. leaving he narrows we just kept uttering words of reverence for what we had just experienced.
I am certain looking back that my trip was fueled by friendship and laughter as we explored together. I hesitate to say just how incredible this journey was, because i fear that it was only elevated by the company I kept. I mean it was only a dirt road through a mountain gorge right? Or is it exactly what I felt, something special, that has to be experienced to understand.
As we pulled away from Titus Canyon Narrows for our camp spots that evening, smiles and laughter were adorned and comic relief was vocal over the walkies. A great and epic day filled with stunning views and friendly adventure.