The leaves are starting to change colors and there is a chill in the early morning air – a time of year described by the Coalition of Chambers of Commerce as “perfect” for touring the back roads and out-of-the-way byways of Inyo County by vehicle.
For almost the 10th year, the Coalition is celebrating October as Motor Touring Month in Inyo, and encouraging both residents and visitors to buckle up and do some responsible, on-road exploring.
The Coalition also has just the resource for those curious about where to go and what to see: the guidebook “Motor Touring in the Eastern Sierra including Death Valley,” available at all Inyo County chamber visitor centers, the Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine and the White Mountain Ranger District in Bishop.
“The guide has proven to be extremely popular,” said the Coalition. “It highlights another great activity visitors to the area can do to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful natural landscapes of Inyo County.”
The guide offers 18 touring routes to explore in Inyo County, from the desolate to the famous.
For each of the routes, an introduction describing the tour is included, along with a write-up on the natural and cultural history travelers will encounter along the way.
Trips highlighted range from short jaunts through backyard hills to all-day adventures that take visitors to some of the most remote places in the county.
One of the shorter routes, for example, is Route 2 out of Lone Pine: Alabama Hills and Movie Flat Road.
“Bizarrely-shaped boulders and pinnacles of stone; behind them the snow-capped peaks of the High Sierra. No wonder the Alabama Hills have been the setting for hundreds of films – depicting deserts of the Old West, the Far East, and even Distant Galaxies.”
A more serious outing, Route 18 from Big Pine to Furnace Creek, is described as “especially unique.
“This long, rarely-traveled, adventurous route is the ‘Northwest Passage’ into Death Valley National Park, crossing two mountain ranges and linking two great North American Deserts. Within the park it brings you to the colorful geology of Ubehebe Crater and the equally colorful history of Scotty’s Castle.”
Each of the routes starts from one of the small communities of the Eastern Sierra or Death Valley. Some of these adventures take participants far from civilization so it is suggested travelers fill up on gas before going out and consider putting together a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way. And, be sure to check road conditions by calling Caltrans at (800) 427-7623, or contacting the local Bureau of Land Management of Forest Service Ranger Station. Weather can affect road conditions year-round, from winter snows to summer monsoons and flash floods.