Death Valley National Park

Death Valley, the name doesn’t sound very inviting. In fact, an immediate response to a suggested vacation there might receive an incredulous “why?!?” My husband and I visited a few years ago for our anniversary. Needless to say, we received a lot of teasing for our choice of our anniversary getaway location. However, it truly is a majestic place, with canyons, dunes, vistas, craters and so much more to see.

Death Valley, located in Eastern California in the northern part of the Mojave Dessert, received its national park designation in 1994, so it is one of the newer national parks. It boasts some other designations as well, including being the lowest point in North America, and being one of the hottest places on the planet. On July 10, 1913 it was a scorching 134 degrees, making winter a great time to visit.

A highlight of our visit was a hike in Golden Canyon. This beautiful hike starts off through a narrow canyon, with many smaller canyons on either side of the trail.

After about one mile, you will see a large, steep hill where the path cuts right into the side of the rock wall.

Photos above taken by theTravelsketcher.

It is a bit dicey getting across the hillside, with the rock wall on one side, and a drop off on the other, so keep your eyes focused on your footing. The trail twists down through some steep, rocky ledges and opens up onto what looks like an old, dry riverbed filled with large, loose gravel. It took about 45 minutes to work our way out of the riverbed. Then we came to some hairpin turns through more narrow canyons. At several points we had to navigate down some steep, stone walls, keeping a watchful eye out for scorpions as we used the rocks for balance. Once out of the canyons, the trail opens up at the base of the mountains.

It was about another mile to get back to the trailhead. This hike isn’t for everyone, but it was one of the more memorable ones we have taken. As we left the trailhead, we were ushered out by this critter:

Coyotes are abundant in the park, be careful not to get too close.

Artists’ Drive is another beautiful place to visit.

The beautiful colors in the rocks were caused by oxidation of metals.

I found the plants to be interesting as well, since they grow right out of the rocks.

Dante’s View is another point of interest in the park.

Photo above courtesy of theTravelsketcher.

Badwater Basin, pictured below is the lowest point in North America. It sits at 282 feet below sea level.

Photos below, courtesy of theTravelsketcher.

There are many other interesting places within the park to visit including Scotty’s Castle, Furnace Creek, Panamint Springs and Twenty Mule Teams. These teams of mules hauled borax from Harmony Borax Works. Note that Scotty’s Castle is closed until 2020 due to storm damage. There are many other things to do and see in the park as well, so do some research before you go.

I highly recommend visiting Death Valley, it’s an interesting and historical place to see. I prefer visiting in the winter, because the weather is cooler and I am not too keen on seeing snakes. Scorpions are active all year long in the area, and we were given guidelines on avoiding encounters with them when we checked into our hotel. But, hey, that’s all part of the adventure!

Wishing you happy and adventurous travels,