Larryboy had a rundown of road status on his DV thread for this year: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=815079
It's quite a long ways from FC to Saline Valley Road. PSR is more popular for hitting the western area.
Surprise canyon is a hike-in you know? It's 5.5 miles and quite a climb to Panamint City. A few backpackers do it every year. Can send links and info if interesed. A friend spent a couple of days up there this past spring, good pix.