The access point for Black Rock Mine Road is located on Highway 6 a few miles east of downtown Benton, California and this spot actually is easy to find in the dark before dawn. The reason why getting an early start is best to do will soon be apparent after cruising a few miles uphill on the smooth dirt road. The panoramic views are spectacular in these mountains and capturing a once in a lifetime sunrise image is easy to do. The sight of the rolling desert hills, hidden valleys and towering mountains glowing under the colorful early morning skies is good cause for turning off the ignition and just sitting for a spell. The sheer beauty of this California region certainly is well worth experiencing and this is reason enough to plot a pre-dawn dirt road excursion through the wide open spaces just to take it all in!
Plotting a travel route from Benton to Crowley Lake via Black Rock Mine Road is easy to do with a GPS system and those who have dead reckoning skills will have no problem going without a map. From Benton, Black Rock Mine Road connects with Chidago Canyon Road, which runs west through the open range to Benton Crossing Road. Benton Crossing Road is paved all the way to the end point at Highway 395 north of Bishop, California, so an average passenger car with ample ground clearance can do this entire trip. Best of all, this touring route goes by the Crowley Lake east access point and continues through the picturesque Benton Crossing wetlands on the way to Whitmore Hot Springs, so as can be imagined, there will be plenty of scenic eye candy to view along the way.
There are also a few alternate routes to choose from in Chidago Canyon that meander to other interesting points of interest in the hills, For example, The Chidago Canyon Loop is an alternate pathway that goes to Antelope Springs, which is a place that mainstream tourists tend to completely overlook. If you are in a hurry, the entire trek can be done in less than an hour, but going slow in order to enjoy the majestic scenery is the best way to go. There is plenty of wildlife to see during the morning hours, especially near Crowley Lake and doing some fishing at the east side access point is a worthy option too.
Benton Crossing certainly is a spectacular sight to lay eyes upon, especially during the autumn season when the morning air is ice cold. This is a geothermal area with dozens of percolating small hot springs spread out over a vast green meadow and the steam rising from the many streams certainly is mesmerizing to view. Hours can be spent taking in the sights and sounds at Benton Crossing and Whitmore Hot Springs is right next door. The road ends where the Sierra Nevada Mountains rise vertically to the sky, yet the adventure does not have to end there. Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite National Park and the ever so otherworldly Mono Basin are just a few miles down the highway, so be prepared to call the boss to request another few weeks of vacation time in order to experience it all!
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