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2020 - Trip Report - Backroad Discovery Route Update

Backroad Discovery Route Update

By Bob Jacoby

In the past we have talked briefly about the Backroad Discovery Route (BDR) program. BDR is actually a non-profit volunteer organization whose primary purpose is to create off highway routes and networks. The primary focus is on motorcycle travel, but 4x4 folks are welcome also. Indeed, most of the trails and routes they have researched are suitable and appropriate for 4x4 activities.

At this time ten routes have been developed and documented. These routes are not only in the West but in other parts of the country as well. Most of the routes are several hundred miles in length and incorporate existing roads and trails. These routes include the following: Northeast U.S (New England), Mid-Atlantic, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Washington, and Southern California. In addition, trails covering Wyoming, Northern California, Montana, and the Southeast are currently under development.

The BDR works with government agencies and local officials to keep these roads open. In many cases, the existence of these trails has generated significant visitation and has provided a boost for small towns along the routes.

The Southern California Route which was just recently established is a good example of what to expect on all the BDR Trails. The 817 mile route has been divided into eight sections as follows:

  • Section 1 – Yuma to Blythe (120 miles). This section heads north out of the Yuma area and passes through Picacho State Park. It then follows Indian Pass Road followed by a portion of the Bradshaw Trail, ending up in Blyth. Most of this route is pretty easy although Indian Pass Road has its moments. This stretch gets the route off to a good start.
  • Section 2 – Blythe to Cadiz Area (127 miles). This route is pretty familiar to us and ends up on Route 66 no less. Based on what I can remember in this area, the trip should be reasonably easy with perhaps a bit of sand to deal with.
  • Section 3 – Cadiz to Primm, Nevada (94 miles) This is a pretty familiar area to everyone and provides an opportunity to stop at Goffs.
  • Section 4 – Primm to Furnace Creek-Death Valley (168 miles). Once again, the roads chosen are pretty familiar to most of us and include visits to the Ivanpah site and the Colosseum Mine area. The route also includes the Excelsior Mine Road thru the Kingston Range and a visit to Tecopa and Shoshone before it follows the Henry Wade Road into Death Valley and Furnace Creek. 
  • Section 5 – Furnace Creek to Racetrack (111 miles). This section is entirely within Death Valley and includes a stop at Ubahebe Crater and the Racetrack. This makes for a reasonably short and easy fun day.
  • Section 6 – Racetrack to Lone Pine (66 miles). There are two ways to do this section. You can either backtrack to Highway 190 and proceed to Lone Pine OR you can take the legendary Lippincott Mine Road. Only the most courageous and adventurous should attempt the Lippincott Mine Road. It changes from time to time, but can be extremely challenging.
  • Section 7- Lone Pine to Bishop (91 miles). This can either be done mainly on 395 or via a challenging excursion into the Inyo Mountains. The latter route can be difficult and even impassable so careful planning needs to happen regarding road conditions. Nevertheless the Inyo Mountains are beautiful and you can come down Silver Pass. That is always a blast going downhill!
  • Section 8 – Bishop to Benton (40 miles). This is a pretty easy section but it includes access to some fantastic petroglyphs. Anyone who is into glyphs can spend awhile at the Fish Slough Site.

If you really enjoy extended trips, as I do, and are into a wide variety of scenery and road conditions, this is an enticing tour which could take as long as a week to make all the stops. You can download GPS coordinates and much other useful information from the BDR website (ridebdr.com). As for me, I want to do all 10 of the trips they have put together. Driving dirt road in New England really sounds unique!  ~ Bob

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