Preserved as a 205,000-acre wilderness adjacent to Death Valley National Park, the Inyo Mountains rank among the most formidable and majestic mountains in the California desert. Forming the western backdrop of Saline Valley, they rise in just a few miles from an elevation of a little over 1,000 feet at the valley floor to above 11,000 feet. Very few places in the desert are this steep over such distances. From Saline Valley, this abrupt wall appears to be impassable - and it is nearly that. The few roads that make ingress into this sheer wilderness of stone are short but spectacular, while its canyons offer some of the most tremendous hiking anywhere in the desert.
With a description like that, I knew that our next trip needed to Death Valley would technically be to the Inyos. And so, over a three-day period, we reveled in the majesty of these mountains near the north end of Saline Valley - exploring mines of lead, silver and talc, climbing waterfalls cascading through narrow canyons, and enjoying views seldom seen by modern man.
Through it all, we never saw another soul. And it was wonderful.