Saturday, April 14, 2012

Death Valley: Mother Nature’s Oasis

When you hear "Death Valley", what’s the first thing you think of?

For Deb; she could only image sitting in a hot desert just waiting to see "rocks" move.   Oh how that all changed when we arrived....

Date Palm Grove Garden

There is so much to see, but before showing you the scenery, let us give you a little history about Death Valley.

Back-Country Driving


Death Valley and the desert ranges surrounding it were set aside as Death Valley National Monument by President Herbert Hoover on February 11, 1933.  Some 60 years later, on October 31, 1994, after a quarter of a century of visionary grassroots efforts to save the California desert, the monument was given national park status and enlarged to 5,264 square miles, an increase of about 63% over its former size.  Nearly 93% of its huge land area is officially designated as wilderness.   

Scotty's Castle

Death Valley is hydrologically divided in two parts.  The northern part is mostly a dry, sandy, and bushed-covered.  Northward, it gradually tapers down and gains elevation, form just below sea level to about 4,000 feet.   

Salt Flats @ -282 feet elevation

 The southern valley is very different.  A sizable portion of it, about 500 square miles, lies below sea level.  Its lowest point is at -282 feet, which is the lowest land elevation in the western hemisphere.  The "heart" of the park.

 The weather can range from a mere 39 degrees in the winter months, to a blistering 115 degrees in the summer.  The official weather station at Furnace Creek Ranch reported 15 degrees as a low back on January 1913 with the record high being 134 degrees on July 1913.  We fell right into the average temps for April – 62/90, however there were some strong winds for a couple of days, as a storm pushes thru ~ snow in the mountains with possible rain below.  

Death Valley has something for everyone – mountains, canyons, dunes, open valley, water, crater, castle, ranch, ghost towns and even a golf course or two.

The Devil's Golf Course

 With its fields of jagged pinnacles stretching out as far as the eye can see, Barren salt flat known as “The Devil’s Golf Course” is one of the most unusual landscapes around.  Up to 2 feet high, the pinnacles are made of silty halite.  What got them started is not fully understood, but what keeps them going is ground water that comes up through them by capillary action and leaves behind a little salt upon evaporation.  Rain and wind prevent the pinnacles from growing too tall, trimming their tips to razor-sharp points.

Artist Drive Area


 The Badwater Basin is the bottom of Death Valley ~ 200 feet below sea level – a blinding and barren desert of chemicals and mud left behind by a dying lake.  It is an intriguing and magnetic place, and one of the weirdest hiking grounds anywhere.  

 Furnace Creek Inn opened for business on February 1, 1927 and still open today. 

20 Mule Team Wagon Train ~ 1885   Used in hauling borax from Death Valley to Mojave, 165 miles - 10 days.  the borax weighed 24 tons.  The entire weight totaled 36 1/2 tons.


There is so much to see and explore – it could take you months or years to see it all.  So lace up the hiking boots, put on your cycle gear, or fuel up the vehicle (highly recommend- high clearance and 4WD-rental are available) and get out and enjoy this stunning oasis Mother Nature has to offer. 

We love to get off the beaten path and go enjoy the back-country

And when you do...get ready.... 

Yes, get ready....  it's going to cost you dearly....




"You only going to live once, so go have yourself some fun".

Retreat to Nature; all those indescribable effects wrought by color, shadow, sunlight, green hedges, and songs of birds – just open the mind and let the spirit come in.
For us; it’s time to give our feet a break, let the gas budget level out, and head to our next great adventure! (A little more on that later) =)

Oh wait...guess we have a little  maintenance issue to take care of first...  

Glad Jerry found this before loading the "toy" onto the trailer.  Last thing we need is to have a blow out, so Deb got to drive the "toy" to Tonopah,NV - 130 miles, while Jerry drives the rig.   

                             FUN TIMES.... 
although we didn't get to see rocks move, we enjoyed our visit, look forward returning one day!!

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