On the second day of my journeys through the Caliente area - despite warning signs like these saying, "Road Damaged Ahead," and a few unscheduled side trips due to faulty navigation - I finally reached the Ella Mountain Lookout, which is on Ella Mountain. The lookout area has great views for miles around. As noted earlier, however, the skies were full of smoke from California fires.
The Ella Mountain Lookout is at the end of a very long, bladed, sometimes washboardy, sometimes rocky dirt road, about 25 miles from Caliente, NV. Across the last three miles, the road is barely scraped into poorly to moderately welded ash-flow tuff, which makes a poor roadbed that is somewhat impervious to blading, creating an effect that resembles set-in stone washboard. When you finally make it to Ella Mountain across this deceptively substandard roadbed, you will find - for your backroad convenience - two porta-potties, one picnic table, and ample parking.
Despite what the sign says, no one was home.
I took some pictures from the Ella Mountain Lookout upper area (I didn't try to enter the lookout itself), and from the lower picnic-parking area. Below are some photo pairs, with the first of each pair having been taken before noon, when the smoke was still thick (about 11:00 am), and the second of each pair having been taken after noon, after some clearing (about 2:00 pm). The later pictures still show some smoke, but viewing distance has increased considerably - from about 20 miles to more than 60 miles.
This first pair looks almost due east from slightly different angles, toward Stoke's Flat. Some jagged rocks in the middle ground, of possible volcanic affinity, are featured.
In the next two photos, we are looking almost due north toward Pioche, NV. The lower mountains in the foreground are part of the Clover Mountains south of Caliente; the mountain in the middle ground is Chief Mountain in the Highland Range north of Caliente; the mountain in the distance is Highland Peak in the Highland Range due east of Pioche.
This next pair looks southwest toward the Delamar Mountains, which can be seen in the center and right of both photos, forming a slightly arching shape behind the canyons and hills in the foreground. The way distant mountain on the left in the second photo is Hayford Peak in the Sheep Range; the low area in front of that is Kane Springs Wash heading toward Coyote Spring Valley at the base of the Sheep Range. The Meadow Valley Mountains are on the far left of both photos, dipping towards the left. The canyon in the foreground is a side drainage of Pennsylvania Canyon.
The next two photos look almost due south, with a second tower near Ella Mountain behind some rocks on the right. Pennsylvania Canyon - the site of some past escapades - is behind the foreground hill, toward the left. Low hills in the background of both photos, at the end of the V of Pennsylvania Canyon, are part of the Meadow Valley Mountains across Meadow Valley Wash north of Kyle and south of Elgin. The far distant mountains, plainly visible in the second photo, are the Mormon Mountains just south of Carp.
In the last two photos, we are looking slightly south of east toward Stokes Flat and Sheep Flat, with other flats such as Fife Flat and Rocky Canyon possibly visible. The hills and mountains are all part of the Clover Mountains. Utah may or may not be visible in the far distance. The road dropping down from the saddle in the foreground is the road into Pennsylvania Canyon.
I'll write more about Pennsylvania Canyon in a later post.
For more about fire lookout towers, read this excellent post at the BLDG BLOG.