It’s the driest place in the USA, the lowest point in North America and one of the hottest places on earth. But between mid October and mid May, Death Valley is one of the USA is most life affirming road trips.
Death Valley straddles the California and Nevada border, just a four and a half hour drive from Los Angeles, or a two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas. Many parts of Death Valley are designated wilderness areas and are under the care of the National Park Service. Despite its rugged appearance, death valleys ecological geological and historical gems are fragile.
Tread lightly so future generations can experience the wilderness value of this national treasure.
If you’re approaching from Nevada, the adventure begins just outside the park in the freewheelin town of VT the gateway to Death Valley.
In the early 1900s, BD service nearby mining towns such as rhyolite, which during its short life, featured a train station three newspapers and 53 saloons.
After the mining boom, the hills around BD called out to artists and free thinkers. Stopped by the goodwill open air museum, home to the Venus of Nevada, the ghostwriter and other works inspired by the wind swept Mojave desert the Mojave has long drawn spiritual seekers to if you’re entering the park from the California side, stretch your legs at father Crowley overlook dedicated to the man they called the desert Padre.
Just a 10 mile drive further into the park, take the turnoff to Darwin false. A reminder that despite the parks for boating name, Death Valley supports a surprising abundance of life.
After Darwin falls shake off the dust at Panamint springs. Whether you’re staying for the night or just wetting your whistle, remember to top up on fuel and water before venturing into the back roads because this is no place for the ill prepared follow the gravel road south to the Wild Rose kilns which once produced the charcoal needed to smelt lumps of Death Valley or into silver stopped by the Eureka mind where fortune seeker Peter agar berry devoted his life to swinging a pic.
The Frenchman never did hit the mother lode, but instead discovered one of death Valley’s greatest treasures, Serenity when visitors began exploring Death Valley and their newfangled motorcars and the 1930s, the ever affable are very guided them to the place he called the Great view. Take the climb to his beloved out lo and behold the spectacle of the Panamint mountains cascading into the valley floor. 6000 feet below
After exploring the back roads of the Panamint range, head deeper into the park sunbae tart at stovepipe wells. It was here where a party of last 40 Niners burnt their wagons ate their oxen and staggered out on foot from the place they christened Death Valley.
Death valleys landscapes may be harsh, but they are rarely monotonous. Each twist on these desert roads reveals yet another VISTA with its own geological voice, its own story to tell.
Just a short drive east of stovepipe wells are the shifting sands of the mesquite dunes, the easiest to access of all the parks dune fields.
Further east take a walk along the salt Creek Trail, we’re playful pup fish splash in the wetland remnants of a lake which once covered much of the valley
to the south, lace up your hiking boots and discover the slot canyons marble Narrows and galleries of fragmented rock in mosaic Canyon.
Once you’ve explored the trails around stovepipe wells continue self into the valley floor where as the road descends, the temperature climbs pulling to the aptly named furnace Creek, the holder of the world’s highest recorded temperature.
Despite the heat, the resorts here make furnace Creek a cool place to kick back after a long day on the trails. In the late 1800s, this outpost was the home of the Pacific Coast borax company whose 20 mule wagon teens hold borax from the valley floor and into the laundries and cosmetics counters of the USA learn more about death Valley’s gritty past at the furnace Creek visitor center run by the National Park Service and our here will deepen your appreciation of the parks incredible history, ecosystems and geology.
Furnace Creek is close to some of death Valley’s most popular sites. And as always, no two are quite the same. Just a five mile drive south of furnace Creek is Zabriskie Point.
A mud rock Badlands that has long inspired filmmakers, musicians and mystics.
A few miles south take the turn off onto artists drive a scenic road which takes in an eye popping oxidized palette of hillside colors.
Nearby at the devil’s golf course, stand at the edge of the jagged salt plane that stopped the wagons of those last 40 Niners dead in their tracks. Just 10 miles down the road in Badwater, imagine the heartbreak of those last overlanders who splashed these waters to their cracked and swollen lips, only to taste water twice as salty as the sea after exploring the parks lowest point, take the road up coffin peak to Dante’s view here from a height of five and a half 1000 feet, Southern Death Valley stretches out with all the ferocity of hell, and all the beauty of heaven, nature’s very own Divine Comedy
after coming back to Earth, head north and follow 27 miles of serpentine bends through Titus Canyon to lead field. In 1925, false advertising lured hundreds of hopeful miners to these barren hills. Three years later, led field was just another Death Valley ghost town. One miner who did strike it lucky was Bert Chifley cornering his runaway burrow and a remote Canyon. The exasperated miner picked up a rock to hurl at that stubborn beast glinting in the sun.
That rock was never thrown, and the last borough mine went on to produce gold for decades.
Just over the hill from births mine is the race track, whose mysterious sliding rocks were long thought to be the work of playful spirits and bored extra terrestrials.
Alas, sigh science says recently discovered more logical culprits, high winds, and winter ice.
from the Race Track head through teakettle junction to a section of the park formed by steam drive to the rim of UB Hebei crater formed in one explosive instant when rising magma hit cool groundwater.
Some geologists estimate the crater was formed only 300 years ago. A reminder that despite appearances, Death Valley is very much alive and forever changing.
Welcome traveler to a destination where the rusting iron and mine shafts of old timers tell tales of endurance and hope. Were epic landscapes terrify mystify and delight, where the wind scours the skin in one moment, and in the next whispers all the world’s secrets. Death Valley is the stuff of life