Schoolbus Canyon is located in the Nightingale Mountains east of Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Unlike the rocky trails of the High Sierras, this is desert terrain with sandy washes and sagebrush. This would be my third trail ride in this area in recent years and was a great run to wind down the '06 season. Its a pretty easy trail that even stock Jeeps can do, but there are also some more difficult sections for those who dare. We were planning to travel up the canyon further than before and were very much looking forward to the new adventure.
The weather was as perfect as any of us could ask for in mid-October: crisp and cool in the morning with a bright sunny sky that warmed us as the day progressed. We left the pavement from SR447 right after exiting the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation and here we performed the ceremonial trail preparations (airing down and disconnecting).
Some people hate the desert, but for many people (myself included) the desert has a beauty of its own. This area in particular seems to have a lot of strange geographical features, from the shape of the landscape to the types of rock found here. The view ahead is the Nightingale Mountain Range.
The trail to the canyon is pretty much a 2wd road. We reached speeds of over 40mph in spots which felt similar to what we imagine JeepSpeed would be like. We just had to be on the lookout for sudden dips, washes, or unsuspecting holes that would appear now and then. It gave the suspension a good workout... At our first rest stop Cagle, driving the Red Unlimited realized he had broken a rear shock mount. His bumpstops weren't set properly and he bottomed out on his shocks.
There are dozens of mines located in the area that make for interesting side-trips. On an earlier trip we visited the Nightingale Mines. This time however, we only stopped at these remnants of a mill that was used as part of the MGL mine because it was right on the way to Schoolbus Canyon.
As we made our way along the trail, my son kept asking "So why is it called Schoolbus Canyon?". My reply each time was "You'll just have to wait and see!" so not to spoil his surprise. It soon became obvious...
This then begged the question of why these old buses are here? We figured they were probably lived in at one time, because both buses had a round hole in the side that looks like it was for a stove pipe. There's no seats left or any other furniture to offer any other clues except for an old bedspring. They were probably inhabited by hippies in the '60's... Thankfully there's not much trash left about (cleaned up by someone I'm sure). Even the engines and axles have been removed. I'm sure my son enjoyed seeing these buses since he gets to ride one to school everyday - just not one as old as these. And in case you are wondering, one is a GMC and one is a Ford.
Further on ahead is where the terrain becomes more interesting. Rain (often resulting in flash floods) create some pretty neat washes that you pass through in the canyon.
The first real obstacle is this waterfall section. Its still very doable for a stock XJ depending on which line you take.
Travis opts for one of the more fun lines.
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