This may not be the destination your looking for if complete seclusion is high on your list. However, the trip up Echo canyon is quite beautiful and it won’t tear up your average SUV. The road starts just a few miles southeast of Furnace Creek on highway 190. It is marked by a sign that is easily missed, so keep your eyes open. If you get to Zabriskie Point, you have gone WAY too far!
Once you start heading up the road, you’ll drive up the gravel that has washed out of the Funeral mountains over the eons. No real problem here, I have seen all kinds of vehicles make it to the entrance of Echo canyon. Just prior to getting to the good stuff, there is a small bedrock outcropping that can either be no big deal, or slightly challenging. Any SUV should be able to handle the outcrop if you just take your time. I have also been up the canyon and found the outcrop buried in gravel. Once you enter the canyon, you’ll be rewarded with many excellent places to camp. Most of the best places are tucked into little side canyons and drainages. Many are also already taken!
A short distance inside Echo canyon, you’ll come across the Eye of the Needle. It is possible to climb up to the eye, but I don’t have the guts to do it!
After the Eye, the road is quite tame. You may experience deep gravel, but not so deep that you need to put it in four wheel drive.
From here you will have no more obstacles to hinder your trip. A nice leisurely drive awaits! This is part of the reason why you are likely to encounter several other people out and about in Echo canyon. Just prior to arriving at the Inyo mine camp, you’ll see a turnoff to the left. This road will take you past the site of Schwab, and out to Amargosa valley via a horrendous road that only the most skilled drivers in short wheel-base vehicles should attempt. For the rest of us mere mortals, go straight and arrive at the Inyo mine camp.
Many buildings are falling apart, many are still standing. You can spend a whole day wandering around. I always love a visit and even during Easter break, few people drive all the way in to the mine camp. There are several open mines in the area, so keep your eyes open and be safe.
There are two ore bins still standing and lots of various mining aparatus lying around. The trip to the Inyo mine has something for everyone: mining history, geology, and a nice place to get away from (most) of the crowds during Death Valley’s busier seasons. Watch out for all the denizens of Echo canyon, it is their turf after all!