Favorite Rides & Destinations

Fall 2017

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Riding among the multi-hued rocks and sands of Titanothere Canyon on Titus Canyon Road, a 27-mile, one-way backcountry road that climbs over 5,250-foot Red Pass, goes through the ghost town of Leadfield and threads through the Titus Canyon Narrows, which are less than 20 feet apart in some places. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…" –Psalm 23 Whether this well-known Bible passage provided the inspiration for Death Valley's ominous name is uncertain, but credit is given to pioneers who got lost there during the winter of 1849-1850. As their food supplies dwindled, they assumed none would get out alive. Two young men eventually found an escape route over the Panamint Mountains, and as the party climbed out of the valley one of them turned, looked back, and said, "Goodbye, Death Valley." Death Valley is indeed an imposing place. Sitting in the rain shadow of the towering Sierra Nevada and Panamint Mountains, it's one of the driest, hottest and lowest places on Earth. Average annual rainfall is just 2.4 inches. The world's highest temperature—134.1 degrees Fahrenheit—was recorded in Death Valley's Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913, and, at an average of 107.2 degrees, July 2017 in Death Valley was the hottest month anywhere on Earth since records began in 1911. And just 15 miles south of Furnace Creek is Badwater Basin, which at 282 feet below sea level is the second-lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere. (The highest point in the lower 48 states, 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada, is just 85 miles to the northwest.) Despite such extremes, Death Valley is a beautiful, mysterious place. Occupying 5,262 square miles along the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley National Park encompasses mountain ranges and valleys, badlands, sand dunes, geologic formations, abandoned mines, historic sites and other wonders both natural and man-made. In the spring, after what little rain Death Valley gets will have fallen over the winter, it comes alive with colorful wildflowers. Although we'd advise against visiting during the hot summer months, Death Valley is an ideal motorcycling destination, with hundreds of miles of paved roads, improved dirt roads and unmaintained 4x4 roads that offer something for everyone. This collection of photos comes courtesy of Peter Neuper, a motorcycle and photography enthusiast who brought his Leica M type 240 full-frame mirrorless camera with a Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH lens on a buddy trip to Death Valley in February 2015. Four of us—Peter, Paul Beck, Marten Walkker and myself—spent a couple days exploring the national park's unpaved backcountry roads. Photos by PETER NEUPER Words by GREG DREVENSTEDT www.FavoriteRidesAndDestinations.com | ridermagazine.com PAGE 31 FALL 2017 ISSUE 02 / VOL. 02

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