Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Forshay Pass Rd up to the Vulcan Mine and a nice campsite!

Last night I was finishing up my reading of the Fall 2009 bicycle camping trip to the Mojave
National Preserve by a San Jose, California man who has made several trips to the area, and I
came across this page:

Readers who have followed this blog know that I posted about this site a few days ago. Anyway after
working long hours over the last few days, I couldn't decide what to post about and now I do!
This road he talks about is about 1 1/2 miles south of Kelso Depot on Kelbaker Rd., the only sign
is a yellow one warning that it is not maintained by the county, as you are driving south it will come up on the left.

This is an old road dating back I'd guess to the 1940's or earlier, heading up to the old closed Vulcan mine,
where they dug up the iron ore which was smelted down at the Kaiser steelmill in Fontana, California and
ended up as the steel used to make merchant marine ships in WW2. The road continues past the Vulcan Mine
and through Forshay Pass in the Providence Mountains and down the other side and running into the road
going down to Goffs where Dennis Casebier has restored the old schoolhouse.

The first time I drove up this road in a low-slung Ford Thunderbird with no problems, that was in 2004 I
believe, when these photos were taken. This road runs across the alluvial fan below the mountains and
the last time I drove it a couple of years ago it had washed out in places and I had to turn around. I recommend taking a high clearance vehicle, or check with the rangers and staff at Kelso Depot before
you leave for the road condition.

This is a very scenic ride as these photos attest with the real chance that you will encounter wildlife up the road aways. In 2004 I rode up with my brother, Andy, and we spotted a big bobcat within a mile or so of the mine! This photo is looking back at Kelso Depot off in the distance.

This is looking east toward the Providence Mountains.
The view looking uphill. I don't remember what grade this is, I just know it's pretty much uphill
all the way to the mine and it's nearby campsite which I wrote about in a previous post. I will
re-post a couple of those photos in this article below.
Here's another view uphill.
Another one looking back toward the road. That was my 1991 Ford Thunderbird which
still is my all-time favorite car that I've owned!
Here are a couple of the campsite photos including what really is an awesome view of the
Kelso Dunes in the distance.

This campsite does get some visitors, we saw where someone left charcoal fluid for the next
campers and that spot is big enough to park a small rv on the concrete pad. It was an old mine
building site probably. I believe the mine was actually over a big tailing pile to the left of that
concrete pad. Below is a google earth screen capture, I'm wrong. We weren't even near to the
mine. The mine is to the far right, the campsite is the tiny square on the left side.

Now in 2004 the rangers said they didn't recommend people camping by mines, but as you
can see this is not close to the Vulcan Mine after all. Car camping is allowed in the back-country
in the Mojave National Preserve as long as the area was historically used for it and is not too
close to a spring or natural water supply. The exact details can be found out by visiting the
park headquarters at Kelso Depot or online at http://www.nps.gov/moja/index.htm

By the way, Kelso Depot is an absolutely "must see" and will be a future photographic
topic here on the backporch if I can find out where I put the cd with the many photos I took
there!

As always, vaya con dios my friends. Remember you're always welcome out here on the
backporch, especially your comments! I am really interested in finding out if any of my readers
have ever driven up and over the Forshay Pass Road down to the Goffs Road.

Take care,
Morongobill

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