Death Valley: Beautiful and Amazing and Not DEADLY at All!

After two days in Las Vegas we were ready to move on to our next area of exploration – (If you missed all the Vegas Fun CHECK THIS OUT)

We stopped first in Red Rock Canyon then on to Death Valley!

(Why Death Valley, you might ask?  Because it’s always been on my bucket list and why not….?)

But first a small detour to Area 51!

Didn’t see any aliens but chuckled over this t shirt in the gift shop – ha!

I also stopped to give my regards to the world’s largest cow….mooooo…..

Then we were back in good ole California….

After arriving in Death Valley we checked out the Badwater Basin which is the lowest point in North America – 282 feet below sea level.

Death Valley has over 3 million acres of designated wilderness. Hundreds of miles of trails extend in all directions and the terrain is as varied as it is extreme,

from vast sizzling desert and rocky canyons to historic sites and snow-capped peaks…

And let me tell you the very bottom of Death Valley is like walking on Mars!

Speaking of being on Mars, we passed this guy UNI-CYCLING through Death Valley….who knew that was a thing?  Well it IS and we found out he is unicycling AROUND THE WORLD to set

a world record.  HERE is his info if you want to check out his story.  (He’s already ridden across Europe and Asia and is now headed across North America!)

We checked out the fancy hotel in Death Valley (just a visit – we stayed at the lower price hotel…lol)

One of our favorite parts of the park was the Artist’s Drive.  

Artist’s Palette is an area on the face of the Black Mountains noted for a variety of rock colors.

These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (iron compounds produce red, pink and yellow,  mica produces green, and manganese produces purple).

I couldn’t get enough of this amazing place!

The Badwater Basin’s salt flat was amazing to explore.  We drove out a dirt trail for about 30 minutes and had the entire lake bed to ourselves.

The massive expanse of white is made up of almost pure table salt.  During rains some of the salt is dissolved, then is redeposited as clean, sparkling crystals when the water evaporates.

Everything crunches when you walk on it – sounds just like walking in the snow.

(This little baby arch was just a couple inches tall – here’s a different view below.   I had to lay down to capture that!)

This area is nicknamed “Devil’s Golf Course” and it’s easy to understand why….

Here’s me crunching around:

And in case you are interested,  Death Valley was given its forbidding name by a group of pioneers lost here in the winter of 1849-1850.

They all assumed that this valley would be their grave but they were rescued by two of their young men who walked out of the valley and then another 300 miles to get help.

As the party climbed out of the valley over the Panamint Mountains, one of the men turned, looked back, and said “goodbye, Death Valley.”

This name, and the story of The Lost ’49ers have become part of our western history.

We also visited a Borax Mining Camp and got to see the 20 Mule Team Wagon!  That was an amazing story TOO!

It was early in the year and the temperatures weren’t too high so salt creek had water in it.

(It was in the low 70’s when we were there and will get 120-130 degrees in the summer!)

We were so excited to see the Death Valley pupfish – they only exist in this one place on EARTH.

We spent a fun afternoon climing around the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

(These dunes have been used to film sand dune scenes for several movies including the Star Wars series!)

The largest dune is called Star Dune…The depth of the sand at its crest is 150 feet.

We watched the sun go down from Zabreski’s Overlook – and even though it was SUPER windy (I’m talking 35 mph – the kind of wind that you could barely walk in…)

The sunset was worth it!

We ventured out of our hotel that evening to see the stars (This is an International Dark Sky Community)

We didn’t feel like staying up late, so we captured this around 8:00pm – you can see just a bit of the sun’s color setting over the horizon….

And how cute is our hotel?

Our hotel was advertised as “Authentically western, rustic yet comfortable, with it’s own Death Valley restaurant and Western saloon, has been at the end of the trail for vacationers since 1926.”  And it was adorable.

And the next morning we enjoyed a fun hike in Mosaic Canyon where the walls have polished marble!

And I’ll just mention that our trip was so amazing because of an app called “Just Ahead” – the app is GPS guided and

narrated all the points of interest for us.  We listened along the 15 freeway (did you know there are Volcano Craters along the side of the 15fwy?  Or that you can see the Pacific Crest to Crest Trail?)

We also listened at all these points on the map inside Death Valley – so we knew what amazing things were around us every step of the way.

So next time you are on vacation – see if you can get an app to guide you!

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