Death Valley

Spent New Years week wandering Death Valley National Park. Was surprised to realize just how large and diverse the park is. Ranging from -287 ft below sea level at Badwater to over 11,000 ft at Telescope Peak.  We drove through Vegas, past the beautiful Red Rock Canyon area to Death Valley on a Saturday. We camped the first few nights at Furnace Creek – which in retrospect was a bit of a mistake, given the crowds. The location did allow us easy access to some of the more prominent attractions including Dante’s View, Badwater and Gold Canyon – where we enjoyed some great hiking.

After leaving Furnace Creek we worked north to Scotty’s Castle to do the tours and hear the entertaining stories about the history of the mansion. We then moved on to the Racetrack Playa – one of the most talked about features of the park, including the famous ‘moving’ rocks. The ride down the road wasn’t nearly as difficult as advertised, though very washboarded. The playa was stunning, the ‘grandstand’ (a huge island of basalt rock in the middle of the playa) is just amazing. We enjoyed some great company at the campsite just south of the playa that night. Being the middle of winter, the road up to Eureka Dunes was marked closed and we opted not challenge it, given we were on our own.

We moved down to Stovepipe Wells (a terrible campsite – more of a parking lot) to enjoy some hiking on the Dunes and up through Mosaic Canyon. Really pretty attractions – just a bummer the campsite was so boring.

Also took a quick trip up to the Charcoal Ovens just below Telescope Peak and then worked over to Darwin Falls. Was pretty weird seeing a running waterfall surrounded by desolate desert.

A nice trip though if we go again it will be to spend time in the more remote areas of the park we weren’t able to get to this trip.

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