Feb 22

Day 7: Titus Canyon Road

Category: Death Valley

The Titus Canyon road does indeed run through the canyon of the same name, but first passes through the startling Titanothere canyon and the ghost town/mining complex of Leadfield. You can pick up the dirt road near Rhyolite, which takes you through scrubby flatland, then transitions to switchbacks up to a cresting point in the grapevine mountains at over 5000 feet.

Here is the view from near the entrance of Titus Canyon road near Rhyolite. I love places where the road and the destination are visible at the same time; it’s so exciting to see the open road and the promise of adventure looming in the form of mountains under a brooding sky.

titus canyon road entrance

The weather appeared to be getting better, but looking ahead at the mountains, I knew that more rain was coming.

Titus canyon road

As we drew closer to the mountains, we could see clouds scraping the peaks. The air was cool and gentle, but the swift silent movement of the weather was threatening. On the mountainsides, we could see spires that had once been volcanic vents, screaming with heat and molten fury, filled with creative power to shape the land with new stone. Now they stand mute and powerless as the world they created crumbles away before them. The gossamer forces of rain and wind to which they were once impervious now control thier destiny, and do not consult the spires nor inform them of their plans. They simply eat away slowly, slowly…

titus canyon road

Sometimes the mountains, like the clouds, take on fantastic shapes. This one displays a mound of mudstone that looks like a melting face. Note the colors of various metal oxides spilling down the slope.

Finally the rain arrived. It swept across the parched landscape like a great curtain, visible from miles away, as if at sea. When the water hit the rocks and baked soil, it released a hot metal smell. Visible all at once were parched desert, bruised rain clouds with their slate-colored light and the brilliance of a sunny day somewhere to the northwest. We didn’t know exactly what was in front of us, but we knew it would be fantastic and rocky. Buoyed by the secure feeling of a good vehicle with a full tank of gas, we moved forward.

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