As mentioned in the previous article titled Titus Canyon Road To Leadfield Ghost Town, this 26 mile dirt road is a one way street, which is important to keep in mind. The starting point is a few miles west of Beatty, Nevada and while in this neighborhood, touring Rhyolite Ghost Town prior to taking on the 4x4 trail to Leadfield is highly recommended since it is practically right next door. The reason why these destinations are lined up in a row going west is because Titus Canyon Road used to be the only way to get to Death Valley way back in the early days of westward expansion. The native people knew this pathway well too and there are heritage sites along this trail that date back thousands of years.
Death Valley actually used to be a gigantic lake about 2,000 years ago, so this environment was not as forbidding as it is now in modern times. Where there is water in the desert there is life and evidence of ancient civilizations exist throughout this entire region. Consecutive periods of severe drought have plagued the entire southwest during the last thousand years and just like the name suggests, Death Valley is now one of the most unforgiving places on earth. The only way to survive is to know where the hidden fresh water springs are located, but drinking the alkaline ground water in this region will make a person absolutely sick. Fortunately ingenuity abounds and the local tribes in this desert were experts at distilling the bitter water to make it palatable.
Titus Canyon Road is a very popular touring route during the spring wildflower bloom season, but this really only applies to the first half of the journey to Leadfield. West of Leadfield the road enters a deep dry wash canyon that becomes narrower the further one goes. Just before entering the Titus Canyon Narrows, there is a lush green oasis with a small seepage spring on the side of the road. Cattail reeds and flowering plants mark the spot and right next to the spring is an ancient newspaper rock. The rock art caricatures mostly depict the food resources in this region, which are interesting to see. During my visit a Death Valley tour guide showed up and started reciting the long history of this spring and to my surprise, he pointed to a spot way up top on the cliff where evidence of an ancient village can be found. The added insight confirms that this tiny freshwater spring has a very long history, so be sure to check it out when taking on the Titus Canyon 4x4 tour!
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