Just a bit west of Panamint Springs, up a long, steep hill, is an observation point, officially known as “Father Crowley Point”, overlooking Rainbow Canyon. Informally, it’s known as “The Jedi Transition” or “Star Wars Canyon”
It’s named as such, because the area is an official military “low altitude flight training area”. The aircraft will come in low, over the higher elevation plateau, and dip into the canyon below.
It’s called the “Jedi Transition”, as the planes tip their wings one way, then another, to navigate between the canyon walls. The reddish mineralized canyon also looks like “Tatooine”, in Star Wars. (My photos don’t show the colors well.) One of the vantage points, a short walk from the parking area, attracts photographers from all over the world. It’s one of the only places where you can look down upon military aircraft, at close range. The spectators love it, and I suspect the pilots like showing-off (besides the realistic training for low-level radar-evading flight) We saw two F-18s and an awkwardly slow V-22 Osprey.
We took a hike to the upper end of the canyon. Below, is a circuit board from a few decades ago. My hiking buddy says it was part of a weather balloon, from his prior research. I Googled some numbers off the board, without success.
Tree hugger! The dead spines of the Joshua Tree are quite soft, but the live ones can puncture a car tire!
The very top of Rainbow Canyon, which starts with a steep ~300 foot drop, right next to that guy taking a selfie!
There was an old encampment, of some sort, we found on our hike. It included the outline of some rectangular stone foundations…too big for a cabin, but just right for a bunkhouse or dormitory. Based on the junk we found, we guessed it was a CCC camp, or roadbuilding crew from ~1930-1940.
Another shot of the upper canyon.
…and an occasional photogenic cactus, but not many…
That’s it! Bring a big lens, and be patient, if you like aviation photos. If not, “take a hike” and enjoy the photos that other people have posted on-line!