Good News! According to eyewitness accounts, most of the flow has returned to the lower springs. I've been in touch with two travelers (Steve Tracy and Wm Leler) who were in Saline Valley during March, 2007, and they say things are coming back. These reports indicate flows of up to 75% of what it was before the recent slow-down, with enough water for either the Crystal or Sunrise pool (apparently not enough for both to be hot enough for soaking at the same time), shower, and dishwashing area. The small bathtub pool is still dry, and there isn't much runoff for the goldfish pond. For more recent information, check out the Death Valley Talk message board.

"It just ain't right I tell ya." That sums up the reaction of Saline Valley regulars on finding that the lower springs pretty much quit flowing around August of 2005. Right or not, that's the way it remains at this writing, following a pilgrimage to the (formerly) healing waters over President's Day weekend 2006. What little flow there is trickles into the Sunrise pool, taking over a day to fill, and not nearly as hot as it used to be. The Crystal pool, dishwashing area, and shower/tub are dry.

The Wizard pool at the upper springs remains hot and with ample flow. The Volcano pool is flowing, but slower and cooler than Wizard. I made the mistake of climbing in on a windy night, making for a very miserable exit. With essentially only one soaking pool in good order, there really isn't enough hot water for everyone, particularly when the partyers get going and hang out in the pool for many hours. Sorry to sound like I'm grumbling, but that's how it was. I hope the sharing spirit becomes even stronger now that there is a bit less to go around.
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Turnoff to the North Pass Turnoff to the North Pass
Just west of Big Pine on Hwy 168, this turnoff takes you up 14 miles of paved road to the intersection with Saline Valley Road, which is where the dirt road starts and the fun begins.
Saline Valley Road Saline Valley Road
This view greets you after coming down off the North Pass and exiting the canyon. Saline Valley is in the far distance.
Lower springs camp Lower springs camp
This camp area at the lower springs would be crowded if the water hadn't quit. Inyo Mountains in the distance.
Lonely outhouse Lonely outhouse
There is no waiting at this lower springs outhouse, an official NPS structure. Inyo Mountains in the distance.
Sunrise Pool Sunrise Pool
Sunrise pool at the lower springs is the only one still flowing. Water volume is greatly reduced, as is the temperature.
The Source The Source
Source spring for the lower pools looks about the same, with the addition of a few signs.
The Source The Source
Source spring water level and temperature have both dropped. Pray (or whatever you do) for a return to the wonderful conditions of yore.
Crystal Pool Crystal Pool
Water no longer fills the Crystal pool. New benches surround the campfire area in the background.
The Lawn The Lawn
The lawn at the lower springs is still in great shape. Despite the spring problem, everyone still keeps the area neat and clean.
Bathing Area Bathing Area
The shower and tub at the lower spring no longer provide a soothing place to wash off the desert dust.
Inyo Mountains Inyo Mountains
A February storm piled clouds on the Inyos, but the rain shadow effect kept it from creeping over into Saline Valley.
At the Sunrise Pool At the Sunrise Pool
A group gathers to watch the slow filling of the Sunrise pool, rather than enjoying a soak as was done in former times.
On the road On the road
This chap and his rig are negotiating the road between the upper and lower springs.
Palm Springs camp Palm Springs camp
This campsite is one of many around Palm Springs springs. Most campers have migrated up here since the lower springs petered out.
Wizard Pool Wizard Pool
The Wizard Pool is as inviting and warm as ever, but there are now too many bodies for the available hot water.
Wizard Pool Wizard Pool
With the lower springs defunct, soakers now crowd the Wizard pool, making it a bit tough to get a spot.
Volcano Pool Volcano Pool
At the Palm Springs area, the Volcano pool still works. The temperature is cooler than Wizard, making soaking pretty much a daytime affair.
Inyo clouds Inyo clouds
Low clouds over the Inyo Mountains make for beautiful shafts of sunlight in the afternoon.
Peace Mountain Peace Mountain
This red cinder cone stands out from the surrounding brown mountains. Personally, I wish people hadn't marred it with the symbol.
Inyo Mountains Inyo Mountains
Swirling clouds and shafts of sunlight give the Inyo Mountains a dramatic and mystical air.
Hiker with a view Hiker with a view
Hiking up the old lava flows north of the springs area yields spectacular views across Saline Valley.
Desert holly Desert holly
You've got to be mighty hungry, but you can eat this shrub. Desert holly's spring green tinge turns to pure white later in the season.
Chicken Strip Chicken Strip
Be sure you are damn good before trying to land on the Chicken Strip, just NW of the springs. You only get one try, and it isn't exactly smooth concrete.
My rig My rig
My truck/camper combo is perfect for desert travel. Even so, it's still possible to get stuck in Saline Valley when the weather goes bad and it snows on the passes. This trip, it did snow, but not enough to extend our trip.

Copyright© Stan White Photography
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