Unexpectedly spectacular! At 3.4 million acres Death Valley is the largest national park outside Alaska. The Park is known for its extremes - hottest, driest, and lowest. The Park contains the lowest elevation in all of North America - the Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level.
On May 12th we drove the Jeep 63 miles from the Wine Ridge RV Resort in Pahrump, Nevada to Death Valley's Furnace Creek Visitor Center in California. We picked out a magnet and then ventured out to spend the day in the park.
Our first stop was the trail head for the Golden Canyon and we chose the hike to the Red Cathedral. We were lucky, the temperature was only 90 degrees and the sky was overcast. The hike was 1.5 miles to reach the steep climb to the Red Cathedral.
Our second stop was at the Badwater Basin, the lowest point on the continent. We walked a mile out on the crunchy salt.
A few miles north of Badwater the valley floor gets even stranger. In the "Devil's Golfcourse" crystallized minerals reacting with groundwater have lifted themselves into tightly packed ridges and globules up to two feet high.
Next we drove on the "Artist's Drive", a one way scenic loop. My iPhone did not do justice to the minerals that shine in shades of teal, ocher, red, and tan.
We had a quick, over priced dinner and then drove to Zabriskie Point where the spectacular views are some of the most photographed in the park.
At almost sunset we took a 15 mile side road to Dante's Peak where the overlook stares nearly 6,000 feet straight down onto Badwater Basin.
After the sun went down we drove the Jeep the 63 plus extra 15 miles back to the RV. Luckily we didn't have to buy gas while in the national park.