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Travel Thursday – Death Valley

Death Valley National Park – Desolate Vast Neverending Panaromic views

There is beauty everywhere – this holds perfectly true when you see Death
Valley – there is beauty there in the utter and startling stillness; in the
canyons, the salt flats, the sand dunes, and the mountain peaks; in life in its
many forms in Death Valley.

Here, you can reach out to the night sky and touch the stars, get lost in
the surreal sunrises and sunsets, feast on mountains of chocolate fudge covered vanilla ice cream that does not melt in the sun, play in the largest sandbox you will ever see, and stand below sea level without a snorkel and eat some salt while there!

Vanilla and fudge!

Water in the saltwater flats is three times saltier than sea-water. The origin of the name Badwater –the earliest prospectors who landed there thought they were lucky on seeing water, marked it as bad water on the map after taking one sip and the name stuck.

Just like the name Death Valley itself given to it by rescued 49ers who left there with a ‘Goodbye Death Valley’ when they were finally found after being stranded there for over two months with little food and water. You will also found many other landmarks of Death Valley with similar names – Furnace Creek, Dante’s View, and the Devil’s Golf Course. 

Taking lessons from these early explorers, if you go prepared with enough water, food, and supplies for changing conditions, you can enjoy Death Valley to the fullest and find the paradise within. Remember to fuel up as there are very few service areas in and around the park (fuel is pricey but ..). Death Valley is the largest national park outside Alaska covering 3.3 million square miles. With lots of things to do and places to see which all
require driving and/or hiking (and many a times, preferably a 4×4), you should plan to give yourselves a couple of days or more. Sunsets and sunrises at Zabrieski point are a must (and we heard that the Mesquite sand dunes are a good place to view sunrise as well).  


Places to See at Death Valley

  • The salt flats at Badwater Basin – this is just amazing; miles and miles of white salt for you to see and walk on (and even have a taste, if you wish, like I did!). This is the lowest point in N.America at 282 ft below sea level. Interesting fact: the place where they have placed the sign
    282 ft is not the exact spot but placed there since people want a photo op and the actual spot is sometimes not accessible. The Death Valley pupfish is found here and is unique only to Death Valley.
Death Valley
Badwater salt flats
  • Zabriskie point – beautiful, spectacular! And an easy drive (about 4 miles from Furnace Creek Ranch) with a short walk up to the viewpoint. 
  • Mesquite Sand dunes – tons of fun for the kids and for us too. Sliding down massive sand dunes, rolling in the sand, what is not to like?
Death Valley
  • Artists palette drive – scenic one way drive of about 9 miles between Furnace Creek area and Badwater – you can see that the desert is multicolored and not just varied shades of browns. 
  • Devils Golf course – A slightly rough ride out to this golfcourse but is fascinating.
  • Father Crowley Point – this is on 190 enroute to Stovepipe Walls – nice views – you can actually hear the wind whistling from this point.
View from Father Crowley point
 
  • Borax Museum – a good place to visit with kids and to learn about the history of the museum, the Borax works industry and Death Valley itself. The ranger in the museum was very helpful and informative.
  • Golden Canyon – easy hike and you can walk as much as time permits interesting and nice views.


What we missed and will surely see the next time: 
  • Racetrack – we had planned to go here this time but did not realize the sheer distances involved and that we would need a jeep/four-wheel-drive for this trip out to the Racetrack. 
  • Scotty’s Castle – again, sheer distances and lack of time forced us to cut
    this from our trip this time but it is a must-do for next time. 
  • Ubehebe & Little Hebe Craters
  • Titus Canyon
  • Ghost towns
  • Charcoal Kilns – it looks very cool
  • Salt Creek trail
  • Darwin Falls
  • Mosaic Canyon
  • Dante’s Point
  • Natural Bridge
  • 20 Mule Team Canyon
  • Harmony Borax works – we drove past but did not stop this time around so will do it the next time.
  • and more

Places to Stay at Death Valley

  • Furnace Creek Ranch – we stayed here and it was a comfortable stay. The staff were helpful when we had questions. There is a wonderful warm, spring-fed pool here – not heated, note, but naturally warm
    (chlorine free!) where the kids enjoyed a nice swim in the morning
The spring fed pool
 
  • Furnace Creek Inn – this looks like it sprung out of nowhere – is one of those places you always see in movies and travel magazines! We did
    not actually go in there for lack of time but was beautiful to look at from the distance. Is pricier than the ranch.

Places to eat:

  • There are a few good eats in both the ranch and the inn. You could always pick up a cold sandwich and a drink at the general store for a quick eat. We ordered a four cheese pizza at the and stepped outside with it to eat at one of the quaint tables with a fireplace in the centre and were the cynosure of two busloads of hungry tourists who had just landed and stared at us for a good five minutes (awkward, I know) before one of them got the courage to ask us where we got the
    pizza!

Tips: 

  • If you enter the park via Towne Pass on 190 E via the west side to Stovepipe Walls, please note that there are lots of high gradient
    sections on the road (varying between 6% and 9%).
  • Fuel up when you can.
  • Remember to take water, food, sunscreen, hats, flashlight, and of course, a camera (and binoculars).

My view

It is a place that is worth many visits and one of the places which makes me feel lucky I live in California.

Some other useful sites:

Other Thursday Memes

August 2020 update: All memes below (Theme Thursday, Alphabe Thursday and Theme Thursdays) are no longer active memes; for the first one – Theme Thursday – the website is no longer there; as for the other two – their host blogs are still there but no new posts for a few years now on each of them.

Theme Thursday – View – the awesome view from Zabriskie point

(Photo – taken by me – December 2011)

Alphabe Thursday – H – Harmony Borax Works

(Public domain. Photo from National Park Service)

Note: All images taken by me except where noted as public domain (the image for Harmony Borax works)

Theme Thursdays at Reading Between Pages: Theme is Know

“And you want to know why! Well, sir, I can assure you that not only do
I not know why I do these things, but I did not even know I did them.”

Wells, H. G. (Herbert George) (2004-10-20). The First Men in the Moon (p. 7). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition. 

13 thoughts on “Travel Thursday – Death Valley

  1. Fascinating and packed with information. I've never visited this part of the country, but now I feel a little bit like I have. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  2. Oh what a fascinating place. I have never been … but i did spend quite a while googling some of those spots, and reading all about the pupfish!

  3. It is so funny how when you live in CA and growing up visiting so many places that we just think of it as home. I think that one could spend a lifetime trying to visit everywhere in this state. There is so much to see and it is so nice when others share what they have seen. It makes you want to visit it again.

    Thanks for sharing this place and the views for this weeks Theme Thursday.

    God bless.

  4. I hope that when I retire in a few years that I will be able to visit more of our nation's natural treasures. Your post makes me think I should include Death Valley in my travels.

  5. Our country has so much to offer vacationers! We have always loved the west, and the southwest in particular. That's why we moved here! Your photos and facts are wonderful!

  6. Thank you ALL again for the wonderful comments.. Death Valley is definitely on my to-visit again list since I could not do justice to it this time.. Being in California definitely has its advantages with all this beauty around

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