Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Titus Canyon's Marvels

I have been through Titus Canyon many times on a motorcycle and I still think that is the most fun way to experience the canyon, but at my age going by a 4-wheeled vehicle is the safest way. I was fortunate enough to ride along with a group and take pictures. The park service recently regraded the 26-mile, single-lane road that crosses desert terrain then climbs via steep grades and switchbacks to a crest, then begins a long, gradual descent.

West of the crest lie the rusting remnants of the town of Leadfield, which existed for only one year during the 1920s. Investors were duped by a promoter who salted some mined rubble to make it appear rich in lead ore. He published preposterous handbills showing ships full of ore navigating the dry Amargosa River through the center of Death Valley.

Below Leadfield, Titus Canyon begins to narrow and steepen while dropping in elevation more than 3,000 feet. The rock colors change from bright red and yellow hues to softer gray and russet tones. Titanic rock upthrusts are evident in the swirling stratification of the canyon walls.

In the last three miles, the road passes through narrows whose walls tower more than 500 feet above the canyon floor.

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