By: Steve Smith
Vehicle use of the seven mile 4-wheel drive road going up Tuber Canyon on the west side of the Panamint Range between Wildrose and Jai1 canyons has become controversial. The first four miles of road is on BLM land and the upper three miles extends up to 7,000' into Death Valley NM. There are three riparian areas on the BLM road segment and possible vehicle damage occurring to the riparian habitat is causing some people to question whether or not the road should remain open for vehicle use.
Along with coworkers Dave Nash, Andy Tenney, and Jules Pallette, we decided to traverse the entire canyon to inventory resources and evaluate possible damage from visitor use. Doing a vehicle shuttle, we left a vehicle at the south of Tuber Canyon and then drove up to Mahogany Flat. We hiked up the Telescope Peak trail for three miles to Arcane Meadow at 9,100' where we left the trail. We headed directly down Tuber canyon and reached the old Skidoo water pipeline at 7.200'. This 6 water pipeline was built in 1906 and numerous remnants of the hand riveted pipeline extended across the canyon. After exploring the pipeline we proceeded to the end of the Tuber road at 7,000' and camped. A storm blew in and a couple of inches of snow fell on us during the night.
Next day, we followed the road for seven miles on down to the mouth of Tuber at 2,800'. The first three miles of road in DVNM was in good shape but there were several difficult 4WD pitches on the lower four miles of road on BLM. The road passed through three riparian zones with the road running through flowing water for about one-quarter mile at the bottom zone 3,000'. There was a profusion of blooming desert plants including numerous Panamint daisy's in the lower canyon. Tuber is a very scenic canyon and the 4-WD road provides a good alternate hiking/backpacking route for reaching the higher elevations in the Panamint range.
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