Hot, dry and utterly amazing, Death Valley is the last spot you might consider for a vacation, but for a weekend trip in the Winter season, it was perfect!
Jordan and I had a few friends coming down from Washington State for a big annual trip to Yosemite National Park, but when a concerning storm hit the West Coast and subsequently knocked out the power to Yosemite’s lodge and surrounding residential areas, we were refunded our cost of the cabin rental and forced to change plans last minute.
After doing a little research- and not wanting to get stuck in any other storm- we decided to head inland, to California’s vast Death Valley.
We packed the car- very tightly!- and headed from Los Angeles to Death Valley for a total of 6 hours en route.
Did you know that Death Valley is:
- the lowest, hotest and driest place in Northern America at 282 Feet below sea level
- over 3 Million acres of land and is the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states
- has sand dunes but is also surrounded by snowy mountains
- the infamous ’49ers were the first non-native americans to inhabit the area, mining for borax (which is what our Pyrex cookware is made of!)
- filled with a LOT to see and do if you’re fond of the outdoors!
After a few pit stops between Red Rock Canyon National Park and the entrance to Death Valley, we headed back on the road for Furnace Creek Ranch- one of two hotels in Death Valley National park. After 6+ hours in the car, the 5 of us were very ready to unpack and do some sight-seeing.
Furnace Creek Ranch had great rooms adjacent to a golf course. The sky was beautiful at night and the ranch grounds were fairly quiet.
They also had very high gas prices- so make sure to fill up before entering Death Valley! Yikes!
We checked out Sidewinder Canyon and although it was difficult to find the trailhead, we made it through and found awesome trails through dolomite canyons. The trails were narrow at points; a bit more climbing than we expected- which was a nice surprise. We didn’t find many places to eat during our travels, but we did make great sandwiches at the top of the mountain! Mm!
The next stop was Badwater Salt Flat. The salt covered a thick layer of mud. The flats are surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains and long roads. The feel of the salt flat beneath your feet is definitely a unique feeling. Warning: trying to get it off your feet is nearly impossible without water.
We then made our way around to Artist’s Palette, just off of Arist’s drive, not knowing what we were going to see. Amazed by the pastel colors on the side of the mountains, we snapped a few pictures and drove through a pastel-lined canyon to Mosaic Canyon for some more hiking.
Mosaic Canyon was filled with great dolomite walls and even under the hot sun, the surface remained cool enough to lay back on and cool down.
Devil’s Golf Course was a quick pit stop before heading back to the ranch for dinner. The ground looks like it has ruptured from below, creating a chaotic look to an otherwise flatland.
Our last night in Death Valley, we ventured out to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes for a sunset photo shoot. The dunes, with a mountain range in the background was inspirational. Occasionally, you could see cars ripping up the road and leaving a dust trail against the sunset.
All of that and we only covered the lower Western region of the park! It’s amazing that there is so much to do. Death Valley definitely deserves a second visit. If you go when there’s a new moon in the summer, you can see the Milky Way galaxy clearly and it makes for great photos! I’m betting we’ll go back for our second trip to witness it.