Death Valley, the name doesn’t sound very inviting. When mentioning a vacation to this park, some people might reply with an incredulous “why?!?” My husband and I visited ten years ago for our anniversary. Needless to say, we received a lot of teasing about our choice of an anniversary getaway. However, it truly is a majestic place, with canyons, dunes, vistas, craters and so much more to see.
Death Valley is located in Eastern California in the northern part of the Mojave Dessert. It 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 interesting and challenging 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. It is a bit dicey getting across the narrow path along 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 stones. 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 mountain.
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 interesting place to visit. The beautiful colors in the rocks are 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 an interesting site to visit and has been used in the filming of Star Wars.
There are many other interesting places within the park to visit including Scotty’s Castle, Panamint Springs and Twenty Mule Teams. These teams of mules hauled borax from Harmony Borax Works.
You’ll find a wide variety of choices when it comes to accommodations in the park, including camping, modest hotels and a fancy resort.
I highly recommend a visit to 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!
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Wishing you grand adventures,