Well, I’ve finished my second cup of coffee this morning (or is it my third?) and the pipes are still frozen (delaying my long hot shower) so I thought I’d keep plowing through my Death Valley NP pictures and memories.
We were on day 3, and still our list of of “things to see” was pretty long! We’d moved to a different campground the night before so our focus was more on the southern end of the park.
We started at Zabriskie Point –
How beautiful! The colors of these mountains just continued to amaze me!
Our God is an AMAZING artist!
That’s Gary, waiting patiently for me to finish taking pictures. He’s learned a lot about patience this trip!
After a quick drive through the Twenty Mule Team Canyon
we drove to Dantes View, over 5000 thousand feet above the lowest spot in North America, the salt flats of Badwater Basin.
(the snow capped mountains? That’s Telescope Peak – 11,049 ft.!)
See that big stretch of white down there? That’s where we were headed next!
First, though, we stopped at “Devil’s Golf Course” – “an immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. So incredibly serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.”
We walked out for a little bit, but not too far. Not with my sense of balance anyway!
But what was truly spectacluar was Badwater Basin– elevation of 282ft. below sea level.
We walked out past the crowd –
but since it was 5 miles to the other side, we didn’t make it all the way across!
That’s Gary again, way far ahead of me. I’m back trying to find the “perfect” shot. Again.
Our final stop that day was the Natural Bridge – a good dirt road,
and then a short hike to the bridge.
It was pretty impressive, but I confess that we found it almost ho-hum after the beauty of the Mosaic Canyon.
And that about wraps up the different places that we experienced while in Death Valley. But I don’t think it really describes the amazing colors and designs of the mountains-
or the wonderful vistas as we drove through the park.
Oh, and the wildflowers were just coming into full bloom!
Such a wonderful mini-vacation in a truly specatularly beautiful place. If you can, GO THERE.
But let me say this – come in with a full tank of gas –
More pictures can be found HERE – if you have the time and the inclination!
Better get this day going – Gary is getting ready to be on the road. Next stop – Prescott, AZ and our April project at Prescott Pines Camp. It’s back to work for us!
But first, let’s see how that hot water situation is coming!
OK, dinner’s over – back to the memories.
I forgot to mention one other stop that we made on our first day –
The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
We didn’t actually get out and climb those big ol’ dunes, but there were others who did –
They were pretty amazing!
But, back to Day Two –
Remember how this is the largest park in the lower 48? Well, we were camped close to the middle of the park, and we still had a forty mile drive to our first stop –
We splurged and did a “combo tour”, so we got to enjoy both an Inside Tour (along with lots of stories about the castle and its builders), and the Underground Tour, which included details on the mechanics of the castle, which was quite an engineering feat.
As you can see, it is pretty remote and in the desert after all, but it did have access to an underground spring that produced 300 gallons of water per minute, so they had that going for them. Can you see the big hole in the ground in the front of castle?
Here are some close-ups –
That was going to be the swimming pool!!!! Check out the viewing windows in the deep end – how crazy was that?
I was standing on that center bridge when I took the pictures of the deep and shallow ends. I can’t imagine how over-the-top this pool would have been (not to mention how quickly the water would have been evaporating there in the desert) had not the owner run out of money. It was a facinating tour – and I took lots of pictures. Here are just a couple –
and plenty more HERE!
Next Stop -(down a 20 mile dirt road) – The Racetrack, home of the mysterious moving rocks.
The Racetrack is a large dry lake bed called a playa. It was pretty facinating just to look at-
from a distance
and close up –
and very close up –
But what really draws people to this remote spot are these rocks
that move across the lakebed
leaving trails behind them.
I haven’t a clue how this actually happens, but I’m glad we got to see them. Quite an interesting phenomenon, don’t you think?
After the Racetrack (and back that 20 miles of dirt road), we took a quick stop at the Ubehebe Crater –
and then we were on our way back to Lizzie,
and a beautiful sunset.
Another good day in the valley!
Death Valley National Park
The highest temperature recorded in the USA was in Death Valley (134 degrees)
The same year the highest temperature recorded (1913), the lowest temperature (for Death Valley) was also recorded – 15 degrees above zero.
Death Valley National Park is the largest National Park in the lower 48 – 3 million acres of wilderness.
The lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere (282 ft. below sea level) is found at Badwater in Death Valley?
The highest point in the lower 48 (Mt. Whitney at 14,491 ft) is just 100 miles from that lowest point.
It wasn’t even on my “bucket list” of things I needed to do while on the West Coast. So when Gary said we were going there before we headed to Arizona, I wondered what there was to do there. I mean, with a name like Death Valley – sure didn’t seem like a very interesting place to me. Well, four jam packed days (and 700+ pictures) later, let me tell you, there is LOTS to see and do in Death Valley.
Did you know
Enough of statistics! I was expecting to see desert and desert-y thing. What I wasn’t expecting were mountains of unbelieveable colors, volcanic craters, a castle, moving rocks, and lakes of salt. I’ve pared down my pictures, and tried to be at least a little organized, so here we go – the highlights of Death Valley National Park, Conrad-style!
Now there are two ways to see Titus Canyon. One is to drive to the canyon head (about 1/2 mile) and then hike up the extraordinary canyon. OR, you can drive all the way out of the park and approach it from the other side, driving along a “high clearance, 4×4 vehicle recommended” road for about 25 miles. Can you guess which one we chose?
The road was one way (which I LOVED) and never really got too “technical”, but we did encounter something that we had rarely come across before –
And while we tried to stay back (mostly so we wouldn’t be choaking on their dust),
We did finally end up in a traffic JAM!
Looking back while we waited for folks to start moving again….
We eventually got around the crowd (they all stopped at various POI’s along the way), and made our way into the canyon –
and after an amazing drive through the canyon,
we made it out the other side! It was a great drive – and if you’d like to see a couple more pictures of the drive and canyon, Here you go! –
Since the drive took a little longer than we expected (you know, the traffic!), we decided to take in some of the areas that were close to our campsite.
Like the Harmony Borax Works –
And the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail –
The Salt Creek is home to the Devil’s Hole pupfish – an endangered species found only (so I’m told) here in the Death Valley region.
Our final stop for the day was Mosaic Canyon – Amazing!
A couple more Mosaic Canyon pictures are HERE
And that was Day One. I think I’ll split this up into a couple of posts, so you don’t get into picture overload (like that would ever happen on one of MY posts!) 🙂
Take a break – I’m going to make us some dinner!
Back in November we made our first foray into Joshua Tree National Park. It was a great day, and we knew we wanted to return. Today we finally made it back to check out a couple more sections of this fascinating park.
The Keys Ranch – or Desert Queen Ranch – Tour
The ranger-guided tour of the ranch includes the colorful story of the 60 years Bill and Frances spent working together to make a life and raise their five children in this remote location. The ranch house, school house, store, and workshop still stand; the orchard has been replanted; and the grounds are full of the cars, trucks, mining equipment, and spare parts that are a part of the Desert Queen Ranch story.Ok – that’s the official summary. Here’s the reality –
We didn’t have a long walk to get to the ranch from our parking spot, but to say the ranch was “remote” was quite the understatement.
Thanks to the recent rain (this area got over 4 inches – quite a deluge for them), there was actually water flowing in the stream. Our ranger/guide said it was the first time he didn’t have to say “imagine water running here….”
Here’s the first view of the ranch –
The actual ranch house –
Windmill and well –
Here’s that stream again –
These folks never threw anything away, and made their living any way they could think of. When the area became a national park, they opened a small store and even had a couple of cabins available for hardy travelers.
Here’s one of the cabins –
It was a very interesting tour – and it made me realize how very hardy and innovative the Keys family was. Someone lived at this ranch until 1969 and it’s a real testimony to the American Spirit.
Barker Dam Trail
From the Ranch we took a short drive over to the Barker Dam trailhead. William Keys helped with this dam in the early 1900’s with other area ranchers. I don’t know if there is always water in this reservoir, but again thanks to last week’s rain, we were treated to some lovely water views. It was a great short hike – really just perfect for our little group of 6.
(I loved the color on this one.)
And finally the reservoir –
Here we all are for the official “group shot” –
We had a really fun day – learned a little history, marveled at the ingenuity of man and the Masters’ creation around us, and finished it off with great lunch at the Crossroads Café in the town of Joshua Tree.
We still have about half of Joshua Tree National Park to explore, so I hope we’ll get a chance to do at least more excursion!