TRONA WILDROSE RD. / PANAMINT VALLEY RD.
Central EastDate reviewed - 3/04
Fun . . . . . . . . 5
Difficulty . . . . .Medium
Traffic . . . . . . None to Light
Driveways . . . .None
Condition . . . . Poor to Fair
Length . . . . . .67 miles
This road was surprisingly fun, on the map it looks like a forgotten by-way but when the other alternative for heading north was Highway 395 I decided to give Trona Rd. a try. Heading east out of Ridgecrest on Hwy. 178 sends you through a short, narrow canyon that is quite fun itself, but quickly the highway straightens out again and you soon find yourself passing through the "town" of Trona. I've read that in the past this town was quite prosperous, but the salt industry appears to have moved on because not it is not much more than a ghost town. Still, there are cross streets, driveways, and other vehicles around so wait until passing through town before having too much fun.
Once past Trona there is no signs of civilization all the way until the road ends at Hwy. 190, more than 50-miles from the point where Hwy. 178 becomes Trona Wildrose Rd. One of the reasons I enjoyed this road so much is that, being so isolated and not a travel-route, I was able to have some fun at higher speeds. Use caution near the midpoint of the road however, as there are some fairly tight switchbacks as you climb up and over a small ridge and back down into another valley.
The scenery out here is another plus to this drive; to the east are the mountains that border Death Valley. I was paying more attention to my driving, however, as the road condition is not all that great. Like all desert roads, care should be taken to watch for sand or gravel that may have been washed onto the roadway by any recent storms; and flash floods are a possibility in the winter months.
On the map to the right is a note about an intersection, Trona Wildrose Rd. continues north and turns slightly east towards Death Valley. On the map this road will take you all the way to Panamint Springs, but it quickly degrades into a 4x4 only trail. I was headed north and actually passed the intersection before I realized my mistake and decided to continue on and see where the road went. It didn't take too long before the Jeeps coming the other and severely washed out road convinced me to turn around. If you are headed south, Panamint Valley Rd. ends at Trona in a "T" intersection, so pay attention to the signs.- Back to Region
Nobody out here but salt peddlers and Navy test pilots out of China Lake.
Switchbacks in orange; ono the map Nadeau Rd. (cyan) runs up the entire valley parallel to Trona/Panamint and meets Highway 190 but pavement condition is unknown.
A great place to live, if you like salt.
Looking north up the valley with the switchbacks in the foreground.