Scotty's Lower Vine Ranch tour had been near the top of my priority list for Death Valley ever since tours started a couple of years ago. The reason that it took me so long to take the tour, was that my trip dates never seemed to match up with the dates when tours were given. The tours of Scotty's Lower Vine Ranch are not given year round. They are generally given one or two days per week for only a few months out of the year. Thus, Daria and I were really looking forward to going on the tour of Lower Vine Ranch, and it did not disappoint. For starters, the two rangers who conducted our tour did an extremely nice job of talking with us about Lower Vine Ranch, Scotty, and his life there. We saw pictures which we had never seen before and learned new things which gave us a different perspective of Scotty. At the same time, they kept everybody in line and made sure that people were respecting the area in which they were visiting. So, I can't thank the park service enough for making these tours available, as there is no other way in which to see this area. To help interest others in this exclusive tour, I decided to put together a Trip Reports page on our visit. We were allowed to take pictures during the tour and encouraged to share them with others, so I am happy to do that here. As you go through my pictures, you will see that I will not be explaining them in great detail, but rather raising questions. The questions which I raise will be answered for you on the tour, so hopefully that will help motivate you to try it. Just a note that on extremely hot days, I would actually encourage you to bring an umbrella with you to protect yourself from the sun. Either that, or lots of sunscreen and water. I know that might sound like a strange idea, but you'll understand why later.
Parking area for the Scotty's Lower Vine Ranch Tour. There's no need for me to state where this is, because nobody is allowed to visit the Lower Vine Ranch unless they are on a guided tour with the park service:
Walking up the service road being guided by a park ranger:
Our first view of Lower Vine Ranch over the fence. Just to emphasize, all areas enclosed by the fence are off limits:
We will start here with the first of my 8 questions. Remember, all of the questions which I raise will be answered for you if you go on the tour. Q1- What is the significance of the circled letters "S" and "J", and why are there variations of this on different fence posts?
Q2- Why did Albert Johnson have this water collector built and what purpose did it serve?
We have now passed through the locked gate and are continuing up towards Lower Vine Ranch. Notice that a stream has appeared in the middle of the dirt road we are walking on:
Regarding the next two pictures, Q3- What special bond did Scotty share with his mules?
The next two questions are regarding this stop on the tour. Q4- Why is there a bathtub sitting out in the middle of the Lower Vine Ranch grounds? And Q5- Regarding the natural rock formation behind the bathtub, what special use did Scotty find for it that defied conventional wisdom?
Not much was said regarding the area shown in the next two photos, but I'm assuming it was used for the horses and mules:
Scotty's garage is located to the left of his house:
First view of Scotty's house at Lower Vine Ranch:
Q6- Why did Albert Johnson personally ask Scotty to move down to Lower Vine Ranch and what benefit did it serve?
Close-up of the window shutters of Scotty's house:
Daria outside of Scotty's house at Lower Vine Ranch:
A look at the construction inside of Scotty's house. Notice the roof framing and supports:
And a close-up of the floor in Scotty's house:
View out of the left bedroom window into the front yard:
Q7- Who did a kind gesture and had Scotty's bathroom remodeled when he was away for a short time?
Looking inside the right bedroom of the house:
View from the right bedroom out into the backyard area:
The kitchen and dining room area of the house:
Q8- What makes this stove unique and what exception did Scotty make in regard to it?
Three more views of the stove in the kitchen of Scotty's house:
The front door leading into Scotty's house:
Steve outside of Scotty's house at Lower Vine Ranch:
One final view of the house before walking back to our vehicles at the end of a nice tour: