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Bradshaw Trail - 2022 Trip Report & Photos

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Well well well - another EPIC trip on the books with a great group of folks this side of the Mississippi. In fact, I'd have to say they're "totally tubular!"


This trip took us down the storied and historic, famous, stupendous Bradshaw Trail in southern California in the Colorado/Sonoran Desert. Along the way we visited Roosevelt Mine, the Chocolate Mountains, the Chuckwalla Mountains, Chuckwalla Well and Stage Coach Stop, the Eagle Mountain Railroad Trestle, some abandoned yachts in the middle of the desert, areas throughout the legendary General Patton's Desert Training Center, and the gorgeous sandstone of Red Canyon.


If you're a Club Member, you can read up on the full trip planning thread over here


We rode about 80% of the Bradshaw Trail's length as it exists today - meeting up in Blythe, a short ride on tarmac across the CA border to Ehrenberg and then traveling a whopping 85 miles on dirt to end our trip at Chiriaco Summit, CA.



A nice bootyshot at the air down point just outside of Ehrenberg, California. Note the terrible, god-awful, no good weather.



Of note was the sheer amount of trash in the desert as we aired up. We found all sorts of crazy stuff - but primarily old tin cans from the last 160 years of travel along the road. We even found some old GLASS Gatorade bottles, which I didn't even know was a thing.


Allow me to digress - Gatorade originally started out in plastic, but switched to glass to appeal to the snobby crowd from 1984 to 1998. I did learn that you can sell those on Ebay for around $11-$24 per bottle for a good specimen..... so you know - there's opportunity there for someone with some time that happens to be in the area.


Back on track - we figured that folks traveling East out of California and into Arizona for the gold fields in La Paz were dumping their undesirables shortly before boarding William Bradshaw's lucrative ferry service that would take them across the Colorado River.


Interestingly - this was really the ONLY trash we encountered out there. By and large, the entire area we explored was surprisingly pristine with few signs of the typical garbage you might encounter out there (like entire boats). I don't know if this is thanks to efforts by clubs and individuals or the State of California - but it was something that was glaringly obvious to me.




Another shot of the lineup



We made camp just outside of the Roosevelt and Rainbow Mines only about 40minutes into the trail on a nice spur to the north. We have views for literal MILES to the East, West, and South. 




The ground was rocky, but largely flat. Suprisingly no wind, but temperatures did dip down to about 39 that night.


The stars at night over the red light district.



That's not the sun - we had a nearly fully moon that really lit up the landscape for us.




Sunrise the next day





The next morning we awoke and took a short 30sec drive over to see the remains of the Roosevelt and Rainbow Mines. Not much left in terms of junk - the area was surprisingly well cleaned. However there were heavy-duty gates over all of the shafts and adits in the side of the mountain. The shafts were fairly large - a possible glimpse into the size of this gold mining operation.










Back on the trail. Dust was the name of the game on this trip.




Pausing for a quick photo of the Mule Mountains rec area. This area reportedly turns into a small city of RVs in season. I can see the appeal.




Quick photo of myself and @theksmith courtesy of @johnpa






INn the foreground of this image you'll notice some parallel lines. They were all over the entire area and long a good chunk of the trail. These are the tracks left from General Patton's maneuvers at the Desert Training Center which operated a series of training camps for the Army during WWII. They were using the area to train for tank warfare in north Africa and beyond. The tracks were primarily made by M3 Lee and M5 Stuart light tanks.


Ironically - when the Desert Training Center was in operation - the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion described the Desert Training Center in their official journal as “18,000 square miles of nothing, in a desert designed for hell”. 


Of course - times are different today and we have a totally different perspective on the beauty and rich history of the area!









Back on the trail




A goofy thing you'll find out in the middle of the trail.... boats! There are several known, abandoned boats all throughout the area. Curious!




We stopped for lunch at Chuckwalla Well, an old stage coach stop along the Bradshaw Trail.





Back on the trail again - headed towards our Night #2 camping spot in Red Canyon!





The entrance to Red Canyon - a glorious sedimentary formation that is showing signs of rapid erosion.




Setting up camp - tons of space for everyone!









The next morning we made our way down to check out the Eagle Mountain Railroad trail trestle.  We had an incoming winter storm in the background coming up and over the Santa Rosa mountains. 






We doubled-back on the Bradshaw Trail and headed back toward Red Canyon where we then took the Red Canyon Jeep Trail, a rollercoaster of a ride that rode the ridged above the canyons and surrounding mountains. Our ultimate destination was north to Chiriaco Summit, CA.




Looking East over Red Canyon, the Santa Rosa's obscured by the coming storm.





A good look down into the canyon and wash from the trail above.








Film Noir Gadget






The beginning of "Bootyshaker Road" - a hyper-washboarded section of the trail caused by our SxS friends. Note the gentle slope of the perpendicular hillside to the right - a hint as to how high the peaks around here once were and the flow of the rain over millions of years.





We ultimately ended up in Chiraco Summit, home to fuel, some food, but most importantly - the General George S. Patton Memorial Museum, which documents a vast reaching history of the entire area and Patton's legacy.






Edited by 4x4tographer
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WOW! This looks awesome~ Thank you for sharing the report and always taking amazing photos!  

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Forgot to post this pic of George saluting the Flag on top of the Trestle.


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We had a great time. Link to our photos is here 

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Was able to piece together this short film from the drone footage we grabbed during the trip. Enjoy!



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I agree!  Your videos are awesome Ryan!  And I am thankful they didn't catch me behind a bush or rock!  Always good!

smiles, ladybug

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