The pass referred to in the mine site book was probably Mengle Pass, located a few miles from Anvil Canyon at the southwesterly end of Butte Valley, and the only means by which to cross the Panamint Mountain range for many miles. However , t is an extremely rugged route, only able to be traversed by 4WD vehicles and certainly not by the Plymouth Voyager.
Further investigation indicated the group had not stayed at the Furnace Creek Ranch or Inn, the Stovepipe Wells Resort or at the Furnace Creek Campground. Their whereabouts between being at the DVNP Visitor Center on July 22nd and signing the Warm Spring log book on July 23rd were unknown at the time. It is likely they decided to stay in the car, using the sleeping bags, as they appeared to be short of money.
On the morning of October 23rd a search effort was begun by the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group (CLMRG), trackers from the Indian Wells Valley Search and Rescue Group and eight mounted units from the Kern County Sheriff’s Mounted Search and Rescue. They focused on Anvil Canyon to its entrance at the Warm Spring Road.
Members of the CLMRG found a Bud Ice beer bottle stuck in the sand in Anvil Canyon next to a bush around 1.7 miles east from the people carrier's location. A ledge had been cleared in the dirt, and someone left a large seat print next to the bottle.
On Day two, the search area was expanded and SAR teams arrived from Nye County, Nevada and Inyo County and two helicopters were brought in. Areas searched this day included more of Anvil Canyon, portions of Warm Spring Road and Butte Valley, Mengle Pass, the area adjacent to Warm Spring Road between the canyon mouth and Westside Road and from the van location easterly to the head of Anvil Canyon at Willow Spring.
On October 25th a team from DVNP searched the area between the mouth of Anvil Canyon and the far side of the main valley at Badwater Road and a SAR team from Victorville searched the southeasterly perimeters of Butte Valley. A BLM ranger began a search of the route on the west side of Mengle Pass, between Ballarat and Barker Ranch. A team from Lake Mead NP searched from Anvil Canyon northerly, over the mountains and down into Butte Valley. The Indian Wells team did an intensive search around Willow Spring, at the head of Anvil Canyon. CLMRG started from the middle of Anvil Canyon, then went north, then westerly.
The fourth day, October 26th, was the final day of searching for the group in this hostile environment The DVNP team checked areas northerly of Warm Spring Canyon as well as mine areas a lost person might have sought shelter in. The Victorville team performed searching around Striped Butte in Butte Valley. The Lake Mead team also checked Striped Butte, as well as walking the Warm Spring Canyon Road. The BLM ranger on the west side of Mengle Pass continued searching that area, as well as other possible routes the party may have used if travelling westerly towards Ballarat. The Indian Wells team searched the vicinity of Warm Spring Road and Westside Road when some footprints had been found. A vehicle SAR team from Apple Valley, new to the search, searched areas along Westside Road from Warm Spring Canyon Road northerly, where a party may have sought shelter. Finally, aerial reconnaissance was made via two helicopters in all quadrants surrounding Anvil Canyon (including south), but was hampered by high winds.
At the end of the day, with no new clues found since the beer bottle on the first day, and no hope whatsoever that the party would be found alive, the search was called off. It was estimated by a DVNP spokesperson that at least 250 people were involved in the search. The areas searched were well reasoned and a high probability of success was expected. But no sign of the Germans was found.
Many additional searches were made over the years by search and rescue teams as well as by private groups (Emmett Harder and Dick Hasselman produced details reports, the former report called “Cauldron of Hell Fire”). CLMRG searched additional areas and examined mine shafts. Still no signs.
Emmett Harder had been granted access by the Inyo Sheriff’s Office to view the pictures recovered from the Germans’ camera. Due to his familiarity with the area, he recognised a sunset picture, looking easterly down into the main valley as having been taken in Hanaupah Canyon, located about 17 miles northerly of Warm Spring Canyon. Given the presence of the Germans at the DV Visitors Center on July 22, and their Warm Spring log book entry of July 23rd, this suggests the Germans made camp in the upper reaches of Hanaupah Canyon the night of July 22nd.
The Hasselman report indicated there was a story of an individual on an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) finding two “German canteens” in an area described as being the midpoint of a straight line drawn been Sugarloaf and Needle Peak. This would have been about 3-1/2 miles southeasterly of the people carrier's location. It also said that in the three month period between when the Germans went to Death Valley and their vehicle being discovered, a ranger on patrol about 18 miles to the south found a sleeping bag in the middle of a remote dirt road. Could it be the missing sleeping bag from the Plymouth Voyager? The sleeping bag was discarded as trash by the ranger. The road where the bag was found is very remote, ending at a microwave relay tower at the time owned by AT&T.