18-Mar-2008 -- My 16-year-old wanted to go to Death Valley National Park for Spring Break. We thought that doing a confluence would be fun too, and while there is a confluence within the Park (36N, 117W), it requires about 10 miles of off-roading to reach. My Toyota Prius is not built for that, so we settled on the one a degree south of that.
This trip had 2 other goals. First was to visit an abandoned mine in Death Valley. The second was driver training. In California, new drivers under 18 are required to complete 50 hours behind the wheel with an adult in the car before getting their license. I thought what better place than Death Valley? Flat, straight roads, not much traffic, and nothing to hit.
So off we went. We left our home in San Diego and headed north on boring but fast Interstate I-15, reaching Barstow at lunchtime. There are several interesting things here, and on the way to the confluence you pass the Western America Railroad Museum and the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum, both of which are in an old Fred Harvey Railroad Depot. The Mojave River Valley Museum is also in Barstow. We left town by driving on a curving bridge that goes over a very large railroad classification yard.
The confluence is about 8 miles north of Barstow. We parked the car on Fossil Bed Road and walked northeast about 1 mile (1.6 km) on a flat dirt road that follows some power lines. From there it is a 0.2 mile (300 m) walk in the desert to the point. We’d had a wet spring, and the Joshua trees were in bloom all around the confluence. We looked around a bit, got the pictures and returned to the car, taking I-15 north again to Baker, where we took more interesting roads to the National Park, arriving at dinner time.
The next day we found an abandoned mine and saw many beautiful wild flowers. A great trip and I didn’t have to do all the driving.