Death Valley National Park is an incredibly vast and isolated landscape of extremes, famous for being the lowest and driest place in North America… and the hottest place on earth. But the valley is so much more than just a remote and forbidding oddity. A visit here will immerse you in a fascinating diversity of experiences that are bound to excite all of your senses and to inspire the explorer, biologist, geologist, anthropologist, astronomer, and historian in you.
By the way, simply getting there is quite the adventure in itself. The recommended trajectory is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada then drive the remaining 150 miles or so to California. Let’s go!
Just enough of Vegas to get a selfie at the iconic sign. Getting to Death Valley is a mini adventure in itself. The most convenient way to get to there is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada then drive the remaining 150 miles or so to California. Being of sound mind, I quickly put the Vegas Strip in my rear view mirror! It would be a gross understatement to say that Death Valley is in the middle of nowhere. Seemingly endless mountain ranges separated by enormous arid valleys are typical of the surrounding landscape in the Nevada and California desert. Did you know that brothels are perfectly legal in many counties in Nevada? Neglecting to check your gas gauge can be a costly mistake. My first night’s accommodations at the very funky cool Longstreet Inn in Amargosa Valley on the Nevada-California state line. While not located in Death Valley proper, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is an absolutely fascinating side trip. On the road into the refuge, the barren terrain suggests the total impossibility that anything can survive in such an apparent wasteland. … it is also home to the loveable pupfish. Barely more than an inch long, these amazing creatures have survived for thousands of years in the midst of one of the hottest and driest places on earth, clinging to a mere sliver of habitat in the top few feet of fresh water where the aquifer breaks through the surface and meets the air and sun. Spring fed from a vast aquifer… Yet, in the midst of the Mojave Desert, you will be delighted to discover a rich oasis that is home to flowers, butterflies, ducks, bighorn sheep, and more… Rhyolite Ghost Town is well-worth a hour-long detour Paying my respects to the honorable and feisty Panamint Annie Dante’s View, a muted earth tone panorama from 5800 feet above the valley floor. A few samples of the desolate, but starkly beautiful terrain… Traffic jams are never a problem here, although the roads can be washed out by flash floods. View from Zabriskie Point… Panning from Left… … to.. … Right. A relatively cool day at Furnace Creek (the all-time high temperature =134 degrees F!) The Devil’s Cornfield Just before sunrise… Peeking through the arch while hiking in Natural Bridge Canyon (the sky really looked THAT blue!) A flight test from one of the nearby military bases… The fastest thing I have ever seen! Ruins at the Eureka Gold Mine Eureka Mine The Artist’s Palette Salt flat at Badwater Basin, lowest point in North America at 280 feet below sea level. Sunset at Mesquite Dunes Believe it or not, some animals do survive here! View from Father Crowley Point 282 feet below sea level! Hammer out some ragtime on this battle-hardened beauty at Stovepipe Wells Saloon! Sunrise at Mesquite Dunes Wild Burros Looking West from Ubehebe Crater Charcoal Kilns at Wildrose Cloudless skies and absence of light pollution!