Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has the largest area of designated national park wilderness in the contiguous United States at 3,102,456 acres. It is the driest place in the US with the lowest average rainfall of less than 2 inches per year. Some years it has received none. Badwater Basin (in Death Valley) is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. (Our GPS did show lower.) Death Valley is officially the hottest place on Earth with an official air temperature of 134 degrees. The hottest months are July and August with highs of 116/115 and lows of 88/86. Coldest months are December and January with highs of 68/67 and lows of 38/40.

On October 4, 2015, a flash flood damaged roads and trapped visitors at Furnace Creek for several hours. (That’s where we’re at as I’m writing this.) Then on October 18th 3.5 inches of rain fell in Grapevine Canyon - more than the average rainfall for the entire year! A massive flood swept through the Death Valley Scotty’s Historic District, leaving behind mud and debris and destroying the roads that lead to Scotty’s Castle. That road, and others, are still closed due to flood damage.


On our way in to the park we saw three coyotes. They were by the side of the road, watching cars. They would cross the road back and forth, probably waiting to be fed. No fear.

11/22: The first night we stayed at Stovepipe Wells National Park Service Campground. You can read my separate post on that here.  There was no Verizon cell service.

Mosaic Canyon is a narrow, polished marble-walled canyon. “Mosaics” of fragments of rocks cemented together can be seen in canyon walls. It is prettier than my pictures show.

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes is right off the highway. We stopped to see the information boards there, but didn’t climb the dunes.

11/23: We went on to Furnace Creek Visitor Center. There are a couple of campgrounds there. The first one we stopped at was Furnace Creek NPS campground. It is $18 night, no hookups, or $30 with hookups. This campground takes reservations and it was going to be full this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. He told us about Sunset and Texas Spring NPS campgrounds, both $12. They both have tent and RV sites. Sunset allows generators, Texas Spring does not. This page lists the National Park Service campgrounds. There are also some private campgrounds and motels. You can read my post for Sunset Campground here.  We had some Verizon cell service here, but couldn’t connect to the internet. There were people that brought their computers to the visitor center. Most of the areas in the park don’t have cell service.

We spent the day driving around and hiking -

Mustard CanyonC&SL

Old Harmony Borax WorksC&SL

Badwater BasinC&SL

Natural Bridge       

Devil’s Golf CourseC&SL

Artist’s PaletteC&SLC&SL

11/24: Yesterday afternoon’s light was much better than today’s morning light. It’s hazy, or dusty, and even with a clear sky some of the pics just don’t work right. I wanted to go back to Artist’s Palette since the sun was setting yesterday when we were there, but today’s pics weren’t as bright. We did hike into the canyon today though. C&SL
Alien rock?

Golden CanyonC&SL

Dante’s View - our GPS showed 5478 feet altitude. C&SL

It was real windy at Dante’s View, but we found out when we got back down that it was windy everywhere. We put our slides in when we got back to the coach. The weather forecast was up to 45 mph gusts and it was really dusty/sandy. This lasted almost all night. Neither one of us got much sleep with the noise and rocking. C&SL

11/25: We went to the village area which has a general store, restaurant and saloon. There’s cabins and a golf course. The Death Valley Post Office is beside that and The Borax Museum. There’s also an Inn about a mile away.

The Borax Museum has displays inside and out, and it’s free! The outside equipment is numbered, ask inside for a guide.C&SL

I saw the weather forecast at the Visitor Center and it is suppose to be 85/60 for the next two days in the valley, but with 50 mph wind gusts again tomorrow. So we decided to take off. We stopped at Zabriskie Point  on our way out of the park. C&SL


Click here for lots more pictures, including brochures.  I have to go back through them again and get rid of more.

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