Burning in Death Valley
Quite easily one of my favorite weekend trips, Death Valley has it all- especially if you’re looking to get off the grid and spend some time in what appears to be a totally different world.
A deathly desert menagerie from the months of April-December, there are few times when this place is acceptable to venture. Unless you want to melt- literally (this is one of the hottest places on earth with temperatures reaching highs of 120 degrees), go between January-March. Otherwise, you’re toast!
With little time to explore this massive park, we were (surprisingly) able to hit many points of interest. Yes, we did get sidetracked in Titus Canyon- a pleasant, yet terrifying detour that could have ended in our demise. Don’t let that dissuade you, Titus Canyon is one of the best attractions in the park.
Trust me when I say this: Death Valley is a doable weekend trip- even if you miss a flight and arrive the next day.
Some of the sights we hit:
Upon our arrival, Pantamint Springs appeared to be merely a campground/lodging for visitors to the park. To our dismay, all we discovered here beyond our initial observations, was $4.55/gallon gas and $6 milkshakes at the general store.
Though not one of our most exciting stops, it’s likely you will pass through this area to get to other attractions such as Darwin Falls, Wildrose Charcoal Kins, and Telescope Peak. Note: many of these places can only be reached by driving through unpaved roads, so plan accordingly.
Devil’s Golf Course
Devil’s Golf Course is a strange attraction requiring extra precaution. Seemingly a bunch of rocks strewn randomly for as long as the naked eye can see, be aware that a majority of these rocks have jagged edges and uneven surfaces and are slick. When walking over them, don’t do what my friend or I did and fall- there’s a high likelihood of twisting an ankle or having a deep cut that may require stitches. Luckily when we fell, we caught ourselves just right. My friend came out unscathed and I merely had a few surface level puncture wounds in my hand, which only required water and a paper towel wrap.
The name says it all.
Don’t confuse this with Artist’s Palette- there is an overlook with quite a stunning view, but the color variety is not there. It’s worth stopping by on your way to Artist’s Palette.
The picture below is from of our journey from Artist’s Drive to Artist’s Palette. It’s a very narrow one way road and is also one of the most scenic drives. We went very slowly, admiring the beautiful landscapes surrounding us.
See blog post on Titus Canyon.
Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America, but other than the sign denoting the depth and a simple, but supple boardwalk, it’s a somewhat overrated attraction. If you’re pressed for time, rest assured skipping out on Badwater Basin will not ruin your life.
The second attraction on our way in the park, Zabriskie Point looks like something out of the Star Wars movies and if I remember correctly a few scenes were actually filmed here. The wind is unforgiving, but the views are some of the best in the whole park.
Ubehebe Crater is a stunning crater located next to Scotty’s Castle, an enigmatic point of interest as it has been closed off for some time now. Ubehebe is also near Titus Canyon, so if you’re unconcerned about the possibility of dying, then it would make the most sense to continue on to the crater after. There are trails surrounding the crater, allowing you to spend as much time or as little time as you would like exploring.
Harmony Borax Works
A quick stop, but worth checking out, )Harmony Borax Works is something reminiscent of the Oregon Trail days. A bit of background on the historical site- a Harmony plant, which processed ore was built years ago (based on my psychic knowledge, I would say anywhere in the range of 1850s to 1940s). Though the operation only last 5 years and was not always homed in Death Valley, it is now on the list of national historical places.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Sand dunes in the middle of a national park? Have you ever heard of anything like that? Me either. Though one of the most crowded attractions, the sand dunes still make for a fun walk, especially at sunset. Do watch out for the scorpions.
Dante’s View is likely the first attraction you will see after passing the Death Valley National park sign. It wasn’t open when I was there, but that didn’t stop me from taking selfies and checking out the colorful mountains that lined this area. It’s worth taking a peak as the different hues of the mountains make for a good photo shoot.
Get your motor runnin’, Head out on the highway, Lookin’ for adventure, And whatever comes our way, Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen, Take the world in a love embrace, Fire all of your guns at once, And explode into space, Like a true nature’s child, We were born, born to be wild, We can climb so high, I never wanna die. – Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf