Saline Valley, located at the western edge of Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite places in the world! It has all the amenities that I love, including amazing desert scenery, 40 miles of rough gravel and dirt roads that "filter out" the motorhome crowd, wonderful friendly campers, and comforting, clothing-optional hot tubs. If you love solitude, along with desert splendor, what's not to LOVE about Saline Valley?
As a disclaimer... Saline Valley is a "clothing optional" place... but who wears clothes in and around the hot tubs? Protocol and common courtesy dictates that you DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS of naked people without their explicit permission. As a lover of Saline Valley, I adhere to the aforementioned creed and guidelines, and any photos of naked people that I've published have been with their consent.
I enjoyed another great visit, from Monday, October 17th to Tuesday, October 25, 2022. Here are a few photos to recap the great time I enjoyed in this beautiful desert valley, in one of the most remote corners of the "lower 48 states..."
Photo: It's about 11:00 in the morning, Monday, October 17, 2022, and I've arrived at the turnoff to Saline Valley Road, off Death Valley Big Pine Road, and I take the quintessential photo of my truck heading into the wilderness.
From the pavement, it's a long 39.75 miles of rough gravel, dirt and sandy roads to Palm Springs, which - on a good day - won't require four wheel drive, but I wouldn't venture to Palm Springs without a truck that's equipped to deal with the mostly harsh conditions that Saline Valley has to offer.
Photo: North Pass, at elevation 7300 feet, is about 12 miles from the pavement, as you head south into Saline Valley. At this high elevation, it's always at least 30 degrees cooler than in the valley, and the pass is "enhanced" by snow and ice during the winter.
Photo: As you descend North Pass to around the 5000-foot level, you get a breathtaking view of Saline Valley, and you can look all the way south - something like 60 miles - to South pass. You can see that Saline Valley Road is a rough dirt/gravel road, and is actually a Inyo County road.
Saline Valley Road, for much of the way is the dividing line between Death Valley National Park, and Inyo National Forest of B.L.M. land... take your pick. Whatever the case, Saline Valley Road is a "county road," and is maintained by Inyo County of a sporadic basis.
Photo: To get to the hot springs, you turn off on the unmarked "Bat Pole Road," and after about three miles, you arrive at the "Bat Pole," which has been in place since the 1960's, and truly embraces the spirit of Saline Valley hot springs.
Look in the center of the photo and you'll see Lower Springs, which is about 3 miles in the distance, and Palm Springs, which is another three-quarters of a mile.
Allow plenty of time to drive to the hot springs after you get off Saline Valley Road, as this distance is only about 7.5 miles, but the road is rough, with lots of deep sand, and if you don't have four wheel drive... you are brave and courageous to attempt the drive.
Photo: It's around 16:00 in the afternoon on Monday, October 17, 2022, and I've set up my camp at Palm Springs - also known as Middle Springs - in Saline Valley, and I'm ready to enjoy the next week in a desert camping experience.
Photo: Later in the afternoon, as the sun set over the Inyo Mountains, I was rewarded with amazing light, which made for a great photo of my camp.
Photo: Sunrise on the Inyo Mountains is simply breathtaking, as it reveals shadows, and all of the amazing scenery of the mountains. Quite a view from my camp!
Photo: A camp fire every evening is a ritual every time I camp in Saline Valley, and on this Wednesday evening, October 19, 2022, I'm rewarded with a cheery campfire and an amazing sunset over the Inyo Mountains, to the west.
Surprisingly, on this October visit to Saline Valley, of the eight days I spent, I was rewarded with 6-1/2 days without wind, which was a blessing.
Photo: When I camp in Saline Valley, gourmet food is always part of the equation. I use a wok, made from a plough disc as my main cooking tool. It's heated over a propane burner, but if I run out of propane, the wok can be used over a fire, as it's similar to cast iron.
My plough disc wok is also seasoned, similar to a Dutch Oven, and is used the same way. It's an amazing camp cooking tool, any way you look at it.
Note the small stainless steel coffee pot, as coffee and a coffee pot is a ESSENTIAL when you camp in Saline Valley.
Photo: Breakfast Thursday morning, October 20, 2022 cooking over my wok: Sausage, bacon, eggs and corn tortilla chips. I use olive oil for cooking, and the only seasoning I use is salt and pepper, as nothing more is needed to enhance breakfast in Saline Valley.
Photo: My Thursday morning breakfast was made better after I added chili beans, and scrambled the eggs with fried corn tortilla pieces. Such a great breakfast when you're camping in the desert!
Photo: Saturday morning, October 22, 2022, and I'm cooking breakfast using my "plow disc wok," thanks to my friend Dan Weir, over a propane burner. All of this makes for a great breakfast in the desert in Saline Valley.
Photo: Bacon, beans, eggs, buttered and fried toast... What could be better for breakfast on a Saturday morning in Saline Valley?
Photo: Coyotes are a mainstay in Saline Valley, and if you love to hear the "quintessential western" howl of the coyotes, you'll be treated to it every night in Saline Valley. Along with the coyotes, you'll enjoy the company of burros, ravens and MILLIONS of flies.
Photo: At both Lower Springs and Palm Springs - a.k.a. "Middle Springs" - it's a "clothing option" thing, but few people wear clothes. Nudity is the "norm" at both Lower and Palm Springs, but any kind of lewd behavior does not happen, and is not tolerated by the community.
Photo: Saline Valley has become famous with naturalists, thanks to the web, and despite the 40+ miles of dirt and gravel road from the nearest pavement, people come from all over the world to enjoy the beauty, and the hospitality of fellow Saline Valley "citizens."
This couple were visiting from Germany, and they were truly nice people to enjoy as comrades.
Photo: At Palm Springs, there are two hot tubs, both of them are maintained by volunteers. Although Saline Hot Springs is located within Death Valley National Park, as of this posting, it's sort of an "enclave," thanks to the current Superintendant of the Park, Mr. Mike Reynolds, who is a truly nice guy, and wants to preserve the "status quo" for the past 60 years... shall we say.
Volcano pool is amazing, as it offers great soaking, especially in the mid or late afternoon, as it's mostly shaded from the sun, which can be brutal, even in mid October.
Photo: Sunday morning, October 23, 2022, and my camp is simply spectacular, thanks to the morning sunlight, and the background of the Inyo Mountains.
Photo: Sunday dinner... how about menudo?
Photo: Dinner, Sunday, October 23, 2022: Menudo, enhanced by leftover sausage, bacon, jalapeņo pepper, onion and corn tortillas. All of this goodness was fried/grilled using my plow disc wok.
Photo: Good Sunday evening, as a couple of my neighbors are preparing to enjoy good times in the hot tub.
Photo: Chili verde, refried beans and salsa make for a great dinner on Sunday, October 23, 2022.
Photo: Good Monday morning, on Monday, October 24, 2022, as I enjoy a breakfast of two fried eggs, chili beans, sausage, sardines, and corn tortillas. Breakfast doesn't get any better!
Photo: On the way home, I enjoyed an amazing cheeseburger at Tom's Place Cafe, located at beautiful Crowley Lake, CA. Not only was the burger delicious, by the attention of my friendly server Maryanna made the burger even better! Check out the complete article I posted by clicking on the image, or the link.
Saline Valley isn't for the "feint" of heart, and if you're up to a 3-hour trip on rough gravel and dirt roads, lack of services, and a "go it on your own" mindset, Saline Valley is simply a paradise!
Saline Valley Hot Springs
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