Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Death Valley National Park - Thanksgiving Weekend 2012

On the way home from Lake Havasu, AZ, we stopped at Hoover Dam and Las Vegas before continuing through rural Nevada towards Death Valley National Park, California, the largest American national park outside of Alaska.

Someone in Nye County, Nevada clearly doesn't know how to spell "brother."

The aforementioned "brother," conveniently located at a gas station.

The gas station, which was indeed close to Area 51, as well as the Nevada Test Site.

After crossing into California, we headed north at Death Valley Junction into the national park.

This was the last of the 8 California national parks that I had yet to visit.  (CHECK) [Update = as of January, there are now NINE California national parks, thanks to Pinnacles]

Kudos to the man who thought to bring a boomerang to Death Valley.

Dante's View, a 5,000+ ft. lookout over Death Valley, accessed by a smooth 13 mile road.  This view was also featured in the original Star Wars, apparently.

Overlooking Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.

Dante's View trail.


Dante's View, looking south / west.

Badlands near Zabriskie Point, further into the park.

Tourists (and there were many of them) on their way up to Zabriskie Point.

Manly Beacon at Zabriskie Point.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

Manly Beacon and Zabriskie Point

The viewpoint is named for a certain Christian Zabriskie.

Yours truly at Zabriskie Point.

As we were about to turn south toward Badwater Basin, this sign got our attention.

The road descended downhill from there, about 17 miles.

Approaching Badwater Basin.

This sign was posted approximately 280 feet above us; Badwater Basin parking lot.

The same sign, on a hill.

Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.

Yes, there's actually water in Badwater.

A park ranger leads a talk at Badwater.

I didn't know this until I got home, but the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, is 1,388 feet below sea level.  By comparison, Badwater is small potatoes.

The salt "flats" of Badwater.

We didn't walk far out here (it was quite warm and we didn't have sunscreen), but apparently the texture of the ground changes underfoot.  We took their word for it.

If you click on this photo, the sea level sign is over my mom's (in red) right shoulder.

Mickey Mouse was here...

Salty ground at Badwater.

On the way back up Badwater Road, we stopped at Devils Golf Course.

It was aptly named.

Devils Golf Course

Devils Golf Course

Tourist at Devils Golf Course.

If you head out into Devils Golf Course, be very sure of your footing.  Twisted ankles are normal.
  
Finally on Badwater Road, we went down Artist Drive.

I'm a sucker for moon shots.

It was only 4pm-ish.

Tourists walking up the hill at Artist Drive.

Truth be told, there's nothing special at the top that you can't see from near the parking lot.  Good exercise, though.

Artist Drive viewpoint.

Rock stack, Artist Drive.

Mult-colored badlands at Artist Drive.

Contrary to popular belief, there is gasoline available inside the park... but at a price.

With nighttime approaching, the temperature was still a pleasant 78 degrees Fahreinheit at Furnace Creek, where the second hottest temperature ever was recorded (134 degrees in 1913).

An April Fool's Day advertisement from a 1907 mining camp newspaper, before Death Valley became a tourist mecca.


Sand dunes, on our way out of the park and on to Bakersfield for the night.

Although Death Valley's beauty is more of the "subtle" variety, we were all rather taken by the place and the experience.  My mother, in particular, ranted and raved about it (and this was after years of "no, not interested").  Definitely visit in the cooler months, although some people really want to experience the hottest temperatures outside of the Sahara.  Hey, whatever floats your boat...

Coming up - Christmas in Tennessee and environs.  Stay tuned.

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