There are very few dry lakes left in Southern California.
After record setting rain fall in December, the most in 1.2 centuries, most of the dry lake beds in the western Mojave are still full of water. Putting this into perspective is the fact that it's been over a month since the storms ended and has been very warm and sunny since. I had been doing some satellite recon and had a long list of places I wanted to search, so I decided that today would be a good day to pick one of them - hopefully one that was not under water. I decided to head out to Tyler Valley, a small playa north of Lucerne Valley.
En route to Tyler Valley highway 18 crosses Rabbit Dry Lake. I spent an afternoon here last November. Compare the picture below to this one, taken in the same area. There's probably a couple feet of standing water.
The wind was howling across Lucerne Valley Dry Lake. Not a good day to hunt this location!
Tyler Valley is located in the heart of the Ord Mountains. It is completely surrounded by West Ord Mountain, Ord Mountain, and East Ord Mountain (very creative names) and is not visible until you are right on top of the valley. In fact the only way to see the valley is to be within the valley.
The Ord range is very photogenic. Here is where the BLM road enters the Ord Mountains.
The Ord Mountains, looking north.
You are not likely to find Tyler Valley by accident. To reach the valley you have to navigate more than 10 miles of unsigned, criss-crossing desert trails. A good GPS is your best friend, as even the most recent BLM maps do not show all of the desert highways and byways.
An interesting sandstone landslide creates a desert sculpture.
As you skirt around the south side of West Ord Mountain the valley comes into view, framed nicely on all sides by 1800' mountains. Ord Mountain is the peak to the left, and East Ord Mountain is visible in the sun in the back. The area is easily searched by one person in an afternoon.
The perspective from the playa is cool; you are totally surrounded by a thousand feet of solid rock.
There's a constant wind here, evidence of ripples caught frozen in the dried mud.
There are also signs of "sailing stones". These tracks were perfectly oriented to the direction of the wind. Just a little water on the surface makes the dried mud super slick.
Unfortunately that North American planetary was not waiting for me in Tyler Valley, but it is still a neat place to visit.