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. 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!
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.
My first night’s accommodations at the very funky cool Longstreet Inn in Amargosa Valley on the Nevada-California state line.
Rhyolite Ghost Town
… 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…
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.
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…
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…
Did you know that brothels are perfectly legal in many counties in Nevada?
Traffic jams are never a problem here, although the roads can be washed out by flash floods.
Neglecting to check your gas gauge can be a costly mistake.
Paying my respects to the honorable and feisty Panamint Annie
… to …
The Devil’s Cornfield
Just before sunrise…
A relatively cool day at Furnace Creek (the all-time high temperature =134 degrees F!)
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!
The Artist’s Palette
Salt flat at Badwater Basin, lowest point in North America at 280 feet below sea level.
Ruins at the Eureka Gold Mine
Sunset at Mesquite Dunes
Believe it or not, some animals do survive here!
View from Father Crowley Point
View from Zabriskie Point… Panning from Left…
Hammer out some ragtime on this battle-hardened beauty at Stovepipe Wells Saloon!
Sunrise at Mesquite Dunes
Looking West from Ubehebe Crater
Charcoal Kilns at Wildrose
Cloudless skies and absence of light pollution make Death Valley a prime location for stargazing.