Lonely Pinos 250 10 rigs 5 days


Active member
Apr 17, 2022
Lonely Pinos 250

I do alot of camping and wheeling and this was easily a top 5 trip for me.

It started as a “bring the kids” “PG13” “let’s rack up some dirt miles” open invite and it couldn’t have gone any better. The quality of people (and children) on this trip was stellar.
The “optional Wednesday night meetup” at Tuttle creek CG west of lone pine at 5000’ turned out to be Ken and Shane, myself and Brandon Miller.

I texted Ken from the road around 6pm
“ETA 730, how about you?”
Ken responded “got here a beer and a 1/2 ago”

I rolled in with a full tank of fuel about 7:30 and Brandon rolled in before I had any gear setup. It was a beautiful evening but Ken said I was lucky enough to mis the mosquitoes.

We sat around the fire and drank lightly until 11pm with MT Whitney prominently behind us.
My son Walker and I slept out on cots and the temp dropped well below 32 and we were chilli all night.

Thursday AM was beautiful.
As soon as the sun hit the ground the temps quickly hit 50* and the mosquitoes were out by 7:30am.

We were packed and ready to roll out by 8 when we realized we told Brian we would be at camp until “9-10am”.

I had a carefully chosen route that would keep us off 395 so chances of bumping into each other were zero

We aired down at camp Thursday 8am.
Brandon made contact with Brian and arranged to meet us at our 395 crossing south of Lone Pine at Boulder creek CG.

I though we had time to kill before meeting Brian so I turned us down a bonus line, it was a muddy dead end and a waste of time and ironically was the only time all weekend I used 4x4.


I ran into the Boulder Creek Campground store for ice and nail clippers then awkwardly clipped my nails while meeting Brian and his son Seth.
I asked if he was aired down and he replied “sure”.

Not sure if he drove 395 at 15 psi or did the whole 250 miles of dirt at 30PSI 🧐

Ive spent some time at boulder creek and always remembered a gate right where we started. There are new “interpretive signs” that imply the roads around Owens lake are newly accessible. We took a cool road that cuts about 8 miles right across the middle of the newly filling Owens lake.

Short <1mile jaunt on the pavement back toward Keeler and we hit the dirt road to Cerro Gordo. There was a big sign on the road that told us the town was closed.

The road is in great shape but very steep, we stopped once to enjoy the view. Walker and I with Owens lake with water in the background.

As we drove into Cerro Gordo the owners truck was onsite and some construction was going on but with the “town closed” sign posted at the bottom we didn’t feel right stopping and poking around. We drove through slowing and continued down the backside (east). We slid through a few patches of snow and finally we cleared the “Cerro Gordo Private Property” signs. Ken's son Shane found us a nice side road to an old mine site that was flat and perfect for lunch.


Brian had deleted a front shock on his WJ grand Cherokee and had to remove it at lunch.

Weather was perfect as we continued down the canyon.

There was one tight spot where Brandons wide raptor took a few minutes to pick through but otherwise the road was in great shape.

We hit the bottom, White Mountain Talc road and turned south. The road opened up to a nice 30-40mph canyon, devoid of any razor burn it was a beautiful road. I was my birthday, 68 degrees and sunny, beautiful desert road, I rolled the windows down, put some Stick Figure on the radio and just thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Here is a pic of Brandon as we got close to the intersection with Saline Valley rd

With Cerro Gordo being closed, we were way ahead of schedule. We landed at Box Car Cabin about 1PM and I was relieved to find it vacant. We were all content to crack a cold one and just relax. Brian decided to jet to lone pine to source a new shock for his jeep. This is where the camaraderie of the boys started to take shape. Brandons son Wesley is a bruiser and was entertaining himself picking up the biggest rocks he could find. I reached into my tool bag and handed the boys (Walker 11, Seth 12, Wesley 6) a 2.5lb single jack and that was enough to entertain them all day.

We lit an early fire and just relaxed. I grilled a couple birthday Ribeyes for walker and I while he made instant mashed spuds.

About 10PM we finally got the company of Brad and son Wyatt (Tiny) in his 4x4 caged Toyota. I got into the moonshine and the evening is hazy but Spencer and Courtney rolled in ( supercharged linked 4x4 explorer) along with Kevin and his wife Chelsea in his TTB 6.0L s10 on 37s.

Brandon has a few cool nighttime pics of our rock lights aka camp lights aka pimpin lights aka underflow.
The fleet was certainly filing out with badass rigs.
Campfire smoke went straight up all night was it was probably mid 50s…..perfect night.
Rig count was up to 8 Thursday night

I believe I fell sleep around the fire early. Walker and I slept on cots in the cabin.



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Friday AM Brian left at 6:30 am to run into Lone Pine for the shock he ordered the night before.
We were all fed, packed and ready to hit the road about 9am. We flipped on a radio and started calling "bad lines?" and we were starting to get anxious at about 10AM when Elliot came booming over the radio.

Elliot with son Conner showed up in the Mouse with Scot in his power wagon right behind. Quick air down and we were northbound on saline valley road by 10:30AM.

There is a short section right before the Hunter Mt turnoff where Saline Valley road is a shelf road with a killer view looking southeast down into Death Valley proper. we stopped for pictures and Ken found he had popped a radiator hose off. A flat blade screw driver, 2 gallons of water and we were back on the road in about 20 minutes.
Pics credit to Elliot

As we wound down into Saline Valley we crossed flowing water which was quite a treat. The valley was as green as it gets and the scenery was stunning. Elliot jammed out front to post up for pictures and it did not disappoint.

As we dropped onto the valley floor there was a rocky slow few miles that us go fast guys tend to not enjoy. The radio banter came across "if this is what jeeping is about, count me out"

As the road opened up and the pace tripled the radio chatter became concise and helpful.
"checkup on the G out"
"flat out OK after the 3rd roller"

we were all spread out over 10 miles as we flew across the bottom of Saline Valley making lots of dust and the temps climbed to over 100*.
We stopped to regroup at the bottom of the Salt Tram but weather was too miserable to hang out long.

Recent rains had moved plenty of dirt at the bottom of the valley and I didn't recognize the turnoff for the warm springs. There was some confusion (my fault) but we were all having fun bombing around the nice roads and eventually all made the turn. The wind was brutal across the bottom of the valley and we were all feeling very crunchy when we finally made it to the warm springs. There were not too many people and we were all able to squeeze into the hot pools. The palm trees were some refuge from the wind. The boys got exposed to some PG nudity thanks to some hippies with no tan lines.

We spent a good 2 hours at the springs before we headed north up the valley.


Heading north the road climbs from 1000' to about 7500'.
We had a tail wind that made for zero air over our radiators so we had to stop a few times to cool down, but luckily some cloud cover rolled in.
About 2/3s the way to the top we found enough snow for a snowball fight and complete childish shenanigans ensued. It was a welcome temp change from the sand blasted 100* we had been in just 2 hours before. we also packed our ice chests with snow.
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I managed to stumble my way into a cabin I had been to once before, the location and details I'm not going to share.
We rolled in with perfect timing to start dinner and multiple fires.
The boys all took turns plinking the a Red RydertempImagexRH5HF.jpg
good weather and good late night campfire time.
Walker and I slept on the deck of the cabin and used the kitchen to make breakfast Saturday morning.

More boys being boys, 5 total at this point with Connor and Tiny joining into the fun.


Saturday AM we had a great drive back toward Big Pine, the weather was good and the views were stunning but somehow none of us grabbed a good pic looking west at the snow capped Sierra from 7000' east of big pine.

we all rolled into town for fuel and ice.
I completely emptied my cooler of the muddy snow, got fresh beer and ice and repacked my cooler. I felt like a new man with a re-packed cooler.

Only about 10 miles of pavement and we were back in the dirt east of 395.

The mouse got too big a gulp of water in a puddle and had to be pulled out by Kevin. we put the dripping air filter over Shanes tailpipe to blast the water out.

The W was still pretty gnarly. We had a lunch stop along the canal east of Bishop.
Kevin though he got water in his axle so he did a fluid change at lunch. he asked for a knife while I was cooking so this picture now exists.

We spent about 2 hours in the Laws Railroad museum on the east edge of bishop. Old man docent Jay fired up the hit/miss engine for us. we all had a great time.
The W refused to let up, we braved the Petroglyphs north of bishop in howling wind. we finally got a break when we dropped into Chidago canyon which is a cool "Subaru road" with really cool geology.

Wind still howling as we climbed altitude into the Casa Diablo Peak area. I planned to camp on the peak but the weather said no.
we stumbled around the south side of lake Crowley for an hour looking of a sheltered spot. it was 6PM and the snow started to fall and we made the decision to drop altitude and go down the grade.
We stopped for pictures on the dam near Toms Place
We were only on 395 for 1/4 mile before we dropped onto Lower Rock Creek Rd. Its a beautiful road that bypasses 395 all the way down to Rovana.

we got a little crossed up and lost before we all stumbled our way into Pleasant Valley campground north west of Bishop.

The W came back with a vengeance one last time and rain sent us all into panic as we were setting up tents but it turned into a beautiful night.

everyone emptied their coolers onto Ken's Blackstone grill and we had a nice meatfest.
Sunday we parted ways for the most part,
Ken, Shane, myself and Walker along with Spencer/Courtney and Kevin/Chelsea all had a sit down breakfast in Bishop.

830 miles round trip for me.
almost exactly 250 dirt miles.
no real mechanicals.
5 happy kids,
10 awesome adults.
fantastic trip

for more pics see the original planning thread.
trip pics start about page 8

lonely pinos 250 planning

@Endless Trails
@the bodj
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So I don’t know if Bats have any significance to Saline Valley. Maybe someone could chime in if they know. But this is super random. A co-worker saw my photos from the trip on Facebook and noticed the Bat pole art piece picture I posted that’s along the road before the hot springs. Come to find out he bought his house here in Visalia 5 years ago (about a half mile from my house) and this was attached to the shed in the backyard.


I wish I knew more. This could just be some weird tweaker shit but it would be cool to know if this is a piece of history from that area. I’m trying to get it from him but he won’t give it up lol


After doing a lot of research and making a couple phone calls (yes I was determined to find out lol) I finally came across some good info on the Bat significance in Saline Valley. The Bat pole art piece and all the Bat cut outs from that area were made by a guy named Lee Greenwell aka Lizard Lee, who apparently loved Bats. He was originally from Salt Lake City Utah and ended up moving to Saline Valley to work as the camp host for the warm springs where he worked for over 25 years. He lived out there in a trailer (gnarly) that was gifted to him by the National Parks Department. Since the DV headquarters was so far away from the springs they also gave Lee a big HAM radio and a Suzuki Samurai to cruise the area to patrol the Valley and watch for stranded motorist. The only info I couldn't find was where/how he actually cut all the metal pieces and if he was still alive.