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Schmidt Tunnel Adventure

10/9/2022 @745am

We’re getting up early on a Sunday and off-roading our way across the desert on a ride through history with a featured stop at the famed Burro Schmidt Tunnel in the El Paso Mountains of the northern Mojave Desert.…one of the darnedest things you’ll ever experience out in the middle of nowhere. 

Long story short, this crazy dude hacked a 0.5 mile tunnel through a solid granite bedrock mountain all by himself using only a pick, a shovel, a four-pound hammer and dynamite with notoriously short fuses. He started in 1900 and finished in 1938. The fact that a road was built in 1920 making his tunnel obsolete before he finished it didn’t stop him. Crazy. 

Anyway, its still there but you can only get there off-roading. Once there, you can hike to an amazing view on the other side. First you have to brave a tunnel that is about six feet tall and 10 feet wide in total darkness for half a mile, then do it again on the way back after enjoying the rewarding vista for a bit. Bring a headlamp. Seriously, bring a headlamp. If you try this with a cell phone light, you will bang your head on low hanging granite. We promise. 


Since we are out there, we’ll also plan to make stops at abandoned locations of a time past including Holly Ash and Dutch Cleanser mines, and Bonaza Trail Post Office, Bickel Camp. We are also going to stop by the big scary hill that leads down into Last Chance Canyon. There we will pause for some optional fun that is also fun to watch as the bravest of the built rigs run up and down the hill. The final itinerary will be confirmed after the SCORCH Scouts map out the route during the prior weekend.


We are managing our RSVPs on Meetup.  Come on out! Read on for more info.

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Besides the optional stuff at the Last Chance Canyon gateway and any other optional challenges the Scouts track down, we expect that the entire route will be family friendly and easily navigable by any stock 4WD vehicle. We’d say even the SCORCH Subarus can tackle this one.


We'll know for sure after we pre-run it the prior weekend so check back here on 9/3 for a trail report


Since this is a Sunday event, the plan is to get in early and have you back on the road by 4pm the latest but hopefully even earlier than that. To pull that off, we need you all aired-down and ready for a driver’s meeting at 8am sharp so we can be rolling by 8:15am. We’ll have a long hangout at the tunnel so that everyone has a chance to grab a bite and take the hike if they want.

We’re meeting at the entrance to Dove Springs OHV. Its right across the road from where we start. Just type ‘Dove Springs Entrance’ in Google/Waze and you're there. Last reasonably priced gas is in Mojave 30 miles before Dove Springs.

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Here are some recommended items to bring along.  We get a little kickback from Bezos if you buy any with our links.  You can also visit our store for more gear suggestions.

  • Lunch

  • VHF Radio ( good one / better one )

  • Sunblock

  • A Camp Chair for Chilling (Need one? )

  • Lots of drinks

  • A headlamp (here's one)

  • A mask (for tunnel dust)

  • A jacket (its cool deep in the mountain)





The event starts early on Sunday so you might be thinking about camping out Saturday night.


Dove Springs has lots of dispersed camping and the Dove Springs Staging Area has vault toilets. Ricardo Campground is also nearby on a first come basis.

SCORCH is not officially hosting a campsite but you can use the event chat on Meetup to coordinate with other SCORCHers who might be forming a camp.

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We ran the trails on October 2nd and can report that just about any 4x4 including the SCORCH Subarus can handle this run.  The optional challenge when we hangout at Graduation Hill is the only challenge you will find.  There are some areas littered with jagged fist sized rocks but are totally passable if you go slow. 


We ran into more fences than we expected but we managed to map a trail to all the POIs except for one of the mines. On the other hand, we encountered far more mining-era relics that we expected, which is pretty cool.


In all probability, we should be able to get back on the road by 3pm if we have no major breakdowns. We barely ran into anyone, so we will have the desert to ourselves. 


It's going to be a fun and beautiful day.


CLICK HERE to see photos from our 2017 visit to Schmidt Tunnel on meetup.

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The organizers of SCORCH meetups are not responsible for any damage done to your person or vehicle at the events, getting to the events, or after the events. We are a group of adults meeting up for an activity that takes a high degree of personal responsibility. All participants must do so at their own risk.


If you act like an asshat, douche, idiot, jerk, or in any way behave or operate your vehicle in a manner that is a risk or annoyance to others or does not respect the rules of the land we are on, you will be asked to leave the ride and be possibly ejected from SCORCH.






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