Death Valley is the one place you really want to take a longer trip with a car, possibly with a camper. Death Valleys width is between 6 miles to 60 miles and is 140 miles long, all together 5 310 square miles. That’s a lot of desert!
We visited Death Valley in April and that is one of the most popular times to visit the place. The climate was pretty OK, as I said “only 98 degrees”. During summer times the temperature an be even 120 degrees.
One thing we noticed during the drive that we drank lots of water. Luckily we bought 36 bottles of water in the first day so it didn’t run out in the middle of the desert. What they say about that heat is true: The dry air wicks moisture from the body without causing a sweat. That is weird. I didn’t even notice it was that hot because I wasn’t sweating.
Last time hubby visited Death Valley with his friends, they were poorly prepared: no hat, no water, no sunscreen. Needless to say some of them had a sunstroke. After hearing the stories, I was prepared: I don’t usually wear hats, now I bought one for just this trip, I had sunglasses, clothes that I can easily add or take off and lots of sunscreen and after sun cream.
Even tough it’s “just a desert” and you would think that there’s nothing, there was still something fantastic just driving it trough. The possibility to catch a fantastic photo was great excitement.
Why an earth they need snow plows in the desert? I don’t know, but they were fun to spot in desert.
Mesquite flat sand dunes
First stop in Death Valley was Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. There were already plenty of people, but we still fitted in fine. The Dunes had some height and my choice of shoes, flip flops, were awful choice of shoes. The sand was so hot that it felt like it would cause blisters in to my toes. So sneakers are the correct choice of shoes to the Dunes. Reason for crowd is possibly the location of the dunes. It has easy access from the road. For that very same reason these dunes have been seen in several movies including the Star Wars series as Tatooine Desert. For example scene where R2D2 goes his separate way after he and C3P0 crash their escape pod on Tatooine, is filmed in Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
You can see Badwater Basin quite far while driving to the location. The white salt is really easy to see from brown background. In the area, most people don’t go very far from the parking area, the farther you walk, whiter the sand is and even little bit colder the wind is (which was really nice in the 98 degree desert).
Wikipedia offers us the following information about Badwater Basin: “Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, with an elevation of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of “bad water” next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail.”
I tried hard to find the snails, but I didn’t see them. Bummer.
Somewhere in that wall there is a sign that shows the sea level. Shame that it’s brown so it very well blends in the wall and makes it hard to see. And if you wonder, yes it tastes like salt. Not your typical table salt, nor sea salt. Perhaps that’s how the mountain salt tastes, not sure. And yes, we tasted it =D
After Badwater Basin, its really easy to make a little trip to see Artist’s Palette. Artist’s Drive is a 9-mile one-way route that passes Artist’s Palette. The reds, yellows, oranges, and greens come from minerals in the rocks and the earth. To be brutally honest, I was little bit disappointed. Well, mostly disappointed. I waited for something magnificent color bursts but, it was much more down to earth. At some points, there were more of really beautiful colors, but not all 9 miles. Perhaps I just had little bit too high expectations. But it’s still worth the drive.
Oh, and if you like little movie called “Star Wars”, you are perhaps interested to know that the Artists Palette is the place where R2D2 is abducted by Jawas and Artist’s Drive is the place where R2D2 is been carried up to by Jawas.
It was quite a climb in the heat to see the sights.
There is little bit light green to be seen.
There is a small peak of that Artist’s Palette.
Last sightseeing place for the Death Valley was Zabriskie Point. After a steep uphill walking another steep uphill was killing me, but I made it. View was one of a kind. I have seen mountains, I have seen valleys but I haven’t seen such a mountain. It looked like the mountain was paved with golden velvet. It was fantastic!
To have little bit facts in the table, Wikipedia tells us this: “Zabriskie Point is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which began forming approximately nine million years ago and dried up 5 million years ago—long before Death Valley came into existence. During several million years of the lake’s existence, sediments were collecting at the bottom in the form of saline muds, gravels from nearby mountains, and ashfalls from the then-active Black Mountain volcanic field. These sediments combined to form what we today call the Furnace Creek Formation. ” I didn’t know that mud could look so good.
One thing is sure about Death Valley: I want to go back. There were couple of things we missed. First of all, we missed the Racetrack with the moving stones: So want to see it! Racetrack wasn’t near our path so we had to skip it, but I really want to see it someday. Second, after our visit I heard that Badwater Basin is fantastically dramatic place to watch the sunrise. Have to see it!
If you want to relive you trip to Death Valley or have a sneak peak, you could watch these movies and see at times scenes from here!
Star Wars (1977)
Knight of cups (2015)
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Lampoons Vacation (1983)
The Tree of Life (2011)
Lost Highway (1997)
Sum of All Fears (2002)
The Doors (1991)
Valley of Love (2015)
Would you have any other tips that visitors should see in Death Valley? Please share in the comments!