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The long awaited Southern-California BDR (CABDR-South) is the ninth route developed by the BDR organization for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel.
Take a spectacular, yet challenging 840-mile ride across the south-eastern region of California. Rugged two-track and remote dirt roads lead riders through majestic canyons, rocky riverbeds, and sandy washes of California’s famous deserts and national preserves, including a dream ride in the Mojave Preserve and Death Valley National Park. This is the first BDR designed for winter-season riding.
The Butler Motorcycle Map and the film dvd are now available for sale in the BDR Store HERE
In the links on the right, you will also find an interactive map with section descriptions and the FAQ for the route.
CABDR-South – SECTION DESCRIPTIONS
Section 1: Yuma, AZ to Blythe, CA - 120 Miles
Section 1: Yuma, AZ to Blythe, CA – 120 Miles
The CABDR-S starts in Yuma, AZ along the Colorado River. Make sure you schedule a little extra time to visit the Territorial Prison State Historic Park and Museum, and old downtown has some great places to eat and stay.
The route heads north and can be very sandy near Picacho State Rec Area. There is an optional bypass available which remains on pavement to skip this are if you’re not up for sand right out the gate. Continuing on, beautiful primitive dirt roads take you north, including a portion of the Bradshaw Trail and into Blythe.
Section 2: Blythe, CA to Desert Oasis, CA - 122 miles
Section 2: Blythe, CA to Desert Oasis, CA – 122 miles
Traveling north from Blythe you will parallel the Colorado River which is the border of California and Arizona. Shortly after, you will leave the pavement and hit dirt at the fascinating Blythe Intaglios which were discovered in 1931. These giant pieces of art are similar to the Nazca Lines in Peru and the shapes are believed to have been formed prior to 900 AD. There is an optional Harder section hear that takes you into a short, but technical remote portion of the California desert. All riders can still stop and explore the intaglios just off the highway and not take the optional advanced section.
Traveling west, the route nestles at the foot of the Big Maria Mountain Wilderness before turning back toward the Colorado River. Once again, the route will take you on a two-track road that ribbons its way between two wilderness areas, so please make sure to stay on the road.
After traveling through this desolate area, you will hop onto Highway 62 where you will see structures of times long since past and the Shoe Tree “gas station” before getting onto Cadiz Road. Cadiz Road will connect you to the “Mother Road” or better known as Historic Route 66. Route 66 travels 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica and is a destination for motorcycle riders from all over the world.
The end of this section is unique and is the only final point in the entire BDR system that ends at a gas station, or should we say a “Desert Oasis”. However, this isn’t your typical gas station . . . you’ll just have to see it to believe it. Be warned, the gas isn’t cheap.
Section 3: Desert Oasis, CA to Primm, NV - 94.4 Miles
Section 3: Desert Oasis, CA to Primm, NV – 94.4 Miles
Section 3 will take you out of the low desert and into the Mojave National Preserve. When entering the Mojave you will see the Goffs Schoolhouse and Cultural Center. This unique place at one point housed 16,000 troops during WWII and has preserved old railroad and mining artifacts for you to visit.
Further on, you will enter the Granite Mountains. These granitic rocks have eroded into unusual rounded shapes that include spires, perched boulders and curved cliff faces.
The rocks in this area represent the roots of ancient continental-margin volcanic systems. Most are late Mesozoic in age (80 to 180 million years old) and were formed at a depth comparable to the Andes Mountain chain in South America.
Some of the sites along the route include the Government Holes, which were wells dug so people traveling across the Mojave would have access to water. The Death Valley Mine, Evening Star Mine and WWI Memorial will all be places you’ll want to stop and explore.
Riding the two tracks in the midst of the Joshua Trees will keep you on your toes and is an experience you can only get in the Mojave Desert. This section ends in the small gambling town of Primm, Nevada, which is also one of the stops for the NVBDR.
Section 4: Primm, NV to Shoshone, CA - 94.4 Miles
Section 3: Desert Oasis, CA to Primm, NV – 75.9 Miles
Fueled and full of supplies, you leave Primm and pass through the middle of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. This monstrosity is a 377 megawatt solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun atop power towers. The first big technical climb comes just after Ivanpah up to the Colosseum Mine. This rocky steep climb has gradually gotten less technical over the years but is still a challenging section.Travel along the Powerline Road to Excelsior Mine Road, which leads you into the Kingston Range. You can find several BLM camping areas along the road.
Take the optional track for Mesquite Valley for yet another advanced option. Nearing Tecopa, don’t miss the opportunity to stop at the China Ranch for one of their famous date shakes. The small town of Tecopa is the home to many unique hot springs to stay at, and the small bbq brew pub is the first real food destination on the route and should be on your itinerary.
Food, fuel and some lodging can be found in the town of Shoshone with more options in nearby Pahrump, NV.
Section 5: Shoshone, CA to Beatty, NV - 141 Miles
Section 5: Shoshone, CA to Beatty, NV – 141 Miles
The Ibex dunes will be your first taste of Death Valley. You will find a short stretch of dune-type sand to get your heart racing. Harry Wade Road will take you to the heart of Death Valley where you will travel the Westside Road. You can take a few detours and ride the Artists Palette Loop and Badwater Basin, the 8th lowest elevation on earth.
Passing by the Devil’s Golf Course will remind you that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells offer camping, lodging, food and fuel. If you plan to stay here, reservations ahead of time are suggested.
From here, take the optional Advanced track over Chloride Cliffs or remain on pavement to Beatty, NV.
Section 6: Beatty, NV to Lone Pine, CA- 153 Miles
Section 6: Beatty, NV to Lone Pine, CA- 153 Miles
Still deep in the heart of Death Valley there is plenty to explore off-route and we suggest you do. There is so much this area has to offer in the way of good adventure. The route takes you into Titus Canyon, which is a deep limestone-walled slot canyon and a must see. This road travels in a one-way direction past the ghost town of Leadfield, which boomed for less than a year in 1926. Before heading down into Titus Canyon, you must go into Beatty, NV and purchase fuel and any rations for the trip to the Racetrack and beyond. There are no services between Beatty and Lone Pine along the route.
The Ubehebe Crater is a stop not to be missed before the final 20 miles to the Racetrack. Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and half a mile across that exploded possibly as recently as 300 years ago.
When traveling the Racetrack road you will come to the famous Teakettle Junction. Just look for the sign covered in dozens of dangling kettles. People leave the kettles there as a kind of tribute, inscribing them with messages and hanging them all over the sign in a kind of ritualistic acknowledgment of the people willing to brave the desolate desert landscape.
At the junction you can decide to travel six more miles down to the Racetrack, then backtrack on the main route over Hunter Mtn. If you haven’t seen the Racetrack, the six mile trip is worth it just to see the ‘moving’ rocks on the Playa.
The optional advanced section of the route takes you down Lippincott Pass. Lippincott is for those who are not faint of heart. This steep, rocky and off-camber descent will get your attention and the views down into the Saline Valley floor are incredible.
At the junction of Saline Valley Road and White Mountain Talc Road the main route will continue as an advanced route only up to Cerro Gordo Mine. This road is a steady climb through a deep rock wash and finally a smooth two-track up 8,000 ft. There is an alternate route to this climb by going to Highway 190 and around to where the route comes down to Cerro Gordo. The climb from Highway 190 up to is worth it just to see the moving rocks on the Playa. Cerro Gordo Mine is easy and worth the effort to get there.
Lone Pine is a great destination for a motel if you haven’t had a good shower in a few days. If camping is your gig, then make sure you stay in the Alabama Hills for a night.
Section 7: Lone Pine, CA to Benton, CA- 133 Miles
Section 7: Lone Pine, CA to Benton, CA- 133 Miles
Traveling from Lone Pine out through the Alabama Hills is one of the highlights of the CABDR. These unique rock formations were chosen for the set of many old western movies. If you have time before leaving Lone Pine, stop into the Western Movie Museum and learn all about the movies filmed in the area.
Manzanar National Historic Site is the next stop on the route. In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese- American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were incarcerated during World War II. If you have the time, this is a well done museum and one not to miss.
Traveling through the Owens Valley floor, just off the route is the Reward Mine. The trail leading to the Reward Mine is steep and rocky with embedded boulders. You can ride into the mine for more than a quarter mile but do so at your own risk. There are several places to turn around. You may want to make sure your flashlight works just in case the bike stops.
The route splits at the mouth of Mazourka Canyon. The main route remains on the valley floor crisscrossing the valley and the foothills up to Bishop. The ALT Harder route takes you up Mazourka Canyon where you top off on Papoose Flats. There is a short descent into Wyman Canyon where you cross a creek several times to a lookout of the entire valley.
The Silver Canyon descent will test your steep downhill skills… make sure you take it easy and don’t cook your brakes before stopping in Bishop, another great town to stay in.
The final stretch of the CABDR is an easy road passing by a massive collection of Petroglyphs at the Fish Slough site. About 8,000 years ago this region was settled by the ancestors of the Bishop Paiute-Shoshone tribe. Take time to get off the bike and check out the collections, you will find hundreds hidden throughout the rocks.
Out of nowhere, Chidago Canyon appears and gives you a final taste of a slot canyon before coming to the final stretch. Plan to stay at the historic Benton Hot Springs. You may stay at the small B&B or at the campground where you have your own private hot springs pool camp-side. Reservations are a must for both. Food and fuel can be found in Benton, which is one of the oldest existing towns in Mono County and was originally used by Native Americans for the use of the hot springs.