Friday, May 6, 2016

Death Valley Day - Daytrip

Gerry and I have a bucket list and a trip to Death Valley has been high on it for a long time.  We decided to make the 300 mile round trip drive on Thursday and lucked out with the weather.  It was relatively cool with a brisk wind and that helped keep down the temperature.   

We left late morning after filling up the gas tank for the drive.  I knew enough to leave on a full tank for the trip.  There was a geocache a few miles out of Las Vegas and I wanted to pick up our 1,500th cache.  After a short look for the cache Gerry spotted it and I climbed up on a sign to retrieve it. 

1500th geocache
 Shortly thereafter we were on our way to Pahrump and then on to Death Valley.  We did run into an odd situation while driving down an almost deserted road when we saw a street sign indicating a 25mph speed limit due to "construction".  We drove for miles and miles but never saw any construction or workers.  Finally, after about 15 miles of this, we came upon a small group of workers putting down some asphalt on the road.  More 25mph speeds and finally we were in California and the limit was back to 65mph.  What a joke having a speed limit that low for no good reason.

Finally we came upon a nice sign welcoming us to:

There was a kiosk sitting in the middle of nowhere where you had to pay your $20 to enter the park.  No attendants, just a machine where you could pay with a credit card.  Since I have the Golden Age Pass, we didn't have to pay to enter.

Many years ago the Borax corporation used the 20 mule team in their commercials.  We came upon this sign and decided to take the short drive through the canyon.  It was doable by car and was interesting to see.  It did get a lot rougher later in the Canyon a few miles into the trip.

 It was lunch time and we decided to stop at Furnace Creek to pick up some literature and have lunch.  We had thought about packing a lunch and should have gone with that plan.  Chicken fingers, a hot dog and two beers ran us $40.  To make matters worse the hotdog bun was stale.  Take you own lunch if you go to Furnace Creek.  

There were a number of geocaches in the area and two of them were at the Borax Museum with the train below being part of one cache.  

There were a number of these palm trees around the area and it looked like an oasis in the desert.  Mixed in among them were cabins, rv parks and a golf course.  It would have been nice to bring the motorhome and stay a few days, but it isn't in the cards this year.

Next up was a drive down to Badwater Basin where the salt flats are at the lowest point in the US at -282ft below sea level.  There is a small briny pond left that is four times saltier than the ocean.  A walking path to the salt flats made for a nice hike, but it started raining just as we arrived there.  No hiking for us in the rain so we headed to Artists Drive.

Sea level sign on side of the mountain.
   The rain let up and we had a nice drive through the Artists Drive.  It was quite beautiful there with all the color on the surrounding mountain side.  Artist's Palette portion of the drive is a dipping, diving, curving, one-way road that weaves through striking ravines and colorful rock formations.

 The highlight of the nine-mile loop occurs at the Artist's Palette where sea green, lemon yellow, periwinkle blue and salmon pink mineral deposits are splashed across the barren background like brilliant dabs of paint from a giant's brush.

Luckily, we arrived there as evening was coming up and the colors were brilliant.  If you are ever in Death Valley, make sure you take this drive in the afternoon.  It's worth it.

We could have spent 3-4 days touring Death Valley to see it all.  One site we wanted to see was Scotty's Castle, however recent floods have taken out the road, water treatment facility and caused significant other damage in the area, so it was closed until further notice.

It was a lot of driving but it was well worth it and we hope to make the drive another time if we are in the area.  The drive back was much faster since we didn't sightsee on the way back.  I drove the speed limit and had a car following me for 10 miles and when it finally passed, I saw it was a police car.  It wasn't long before it was out of sight.

That was our day, how was yours?


  1. The pictures of the rocks were beautiful an to see them in person must have been awesome. Maybe we can go there as were are here for good. have a wonderful time.

  2. Death Valley is one of my favorite places but not in the summer. I think it is so beautiful. Thanks for all the puctures.