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Inyo mountain roads

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Inyo mountain roads

Postby Daria » Wed May 25, 2011 1:24 am

Which road is better: the 4wd road leading from Cerro Gordo road heading north towards the Inyo Crest or the 4wd road heading up from Long John Mine towards Burgess Mine?

which one would a high clearance non-4wd vehicle handle better?

(these are southernmost inyo roads heading up from Lone Pine)
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby MoapaPk » Wed May 25, 2011 2:05 am

The Long John Canyon road is drivable just to 4640' if not washed out. Have you read the Zdon descriptions?

I know people who said the Cerro Gordo road wasn't as bad as described by Zdon... but they drive burly 4x4s (like FJ Cruisers and Rubicons). Some of the DPS and Climber.org trip reports for New York Butte may give a hint as to whether the roads have been bladed in the last 10 years.

I was planning to go up that way in April, but was held back by medical issues and a snowstorm.

Google "Snow Nymph" and "New York Butte." She's been up that way a lot. Road looks pretty good in this report:
http://snownymph.smugmug.com/Desert-Pea ... 7375_gJgc8

and this:
http://snownymph.smugmug.com/Desert-Pea ... 8839_BqLKb

The folks at http://www.panamintvalley.com/forum/ (you have to register) may know more about the road conditions in that area -- there is a fellow on that board who drives up those roads fairly often.
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby Daria » Wed May 25, 2011 6:41 am

Looks like theres a third option-a road heads up somewhere in between on what looks like less windy turns and more flat-ish terrain---right near Swansea.

I can't imagine these roads being much worse than the notorious Saline Valley Road which non 4wd high clearance vehicles have crawled on with success straight into saline valley. (the inyo mountain roads are only a small fraction of what saline valley road entails mileage wise) -but the inyo roads gain a ton of elevation
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby Daria » Wed May 25, 2011 6:56 am

Those links to the images are helpful, Moapa. thanks!
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby granite4brains » Thu May 26, 2011 6:25 am

I've dirtbiked this loop.

The road up from Swansea has one section with exposed bedrock that would probably require careful attention if in a 4x4. Underside damage possible here.

The crest from Cerro Gordo isn't as bad, but it's pretty narrow in spots and I would guess a bit exciting in a 4X4. It has one uphill spot on the way from Cerro Gordo that may be tricky.

It's definitely more difficult than the Saline Valley road. You'll want 4x4 with good clearance, especially for the Swansea part

EDIT: another good site for info: http://www.gbr.4wdtrips.net/4x4/swansea.html
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby MoapaPk » Thu May 26, 2011 3:02 pm

granite4brains wrote:EDIT: another good site for info: http://www.gbr.4wdtrips.net/4x4/swansea.html


That description sure makes it sound tough.
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby granite4brains » Thu May 26, 2011 5:23 pm

MoapaPk wrote:
granite4brains wrote:EDIT: another good site for info: http://www.gbr.4wdtrips.net/4x4/swansea.html


That description sure makes it sound tough.


It does, but I bet it's not as bad as he makes it sound. Well, it would be for me, but I'm a wimp when it comes to 4x4!

Folks who are used to 4x4ing don't seem to think it's too bad, though.
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Re: Inyo mountain roads

Postby MoapaPk » Mon May 30, 2011 3:02 am

I just read the section on New York Butte in the DPS guide, to wit:

"This route involves driving the Swansea Grade, a BLM signed and sanctioned 4WD road starting at the tiny settlement of Swansea on the eastern shore of Owens Dry Lake. It is a very difficult 4WD road that can easily wreck a vehicle, even if you know what you're doing! It should only be attempted by experienced 4-wheelers with high clearance vehicles."

Given that the DPS guides usually sandbag drives (mainly because the roads have deteriorated since the guide was written), this is a pretty severe caution!
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