Welcome to Death Valley

Furnace Creek, CA

On Saturday, after spending a great month in Boulder City,  we headed west to visit Death Valley National Park.  The park has numerous campgrounds, but only one has full hook-ups.  We were able to get five nights there beginning on Sunday, so we spent Saturday night in a nearby park with no hook-ups.

On Sunday, after moving into the full service park, we drove south to visit a few nearby sights.  The first stop was at what is known as the Devil’s Golf Course, an immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires.  The spires are so serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.”

The Devil’s Golf Course

Eroded rock salt in the Devil’s Golf Course


Our next stop was a short hike to visit the Natural Bridge.  We drove a couple miles back a rough dirt road to get to the trailhead.

The bridge is only about a half mile up a dry wash.

Natural Bridge from the front

The bridge from the other side


The walls of the wash contain many dry waterfalls, where falling water has eroded into the side of the canyon.

Many walls of the canyon have areas covered with mud that dried as it drizzled down the side of the canyon.  It is commonly known as candle drippings.

The drive back out of the Natural Bridge area gave us a great view of Death Valley in the distance.

The next stop on this tour was to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.

Death Valley is the remains of an ancient lake that was over six hundred feet deep.  There are still a few small areas of water on the lake bed today and Badwater is one.  The legend is that it received its name when a mule refused to drink the salty water and the owner called it bad water.  The water comes from underground springs.

A ramp leads to a large area on the dry lake bed where the salt remaining from evaporation has been trampled down by visitors.

A few weeks ago, during a visit to Great Basin National Park, we parked the Jeep at a trailhead that was at 10,100 feet above sea level.  We’ve know dropped a bit in elevation since then, but it really hit us when we looked at a small sign on the hills overlooking Badwater.

The sign is a bit difficult to see, so we zoomed in on it.

Our final activity for the day was a scenic ride along Artist Drive, a one way paved loop road through an area filled with colorful rock formations.  The colors around us were very impressive as we drove the winding road through the rocks.

We’ll be in Death Valley for the next four days and a stop at the Visitor Center gave us information on some of the many hikes in the area, so the nimble hiker is busy planning new adventures.

More on that later . . .

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29 Responses to Welcome to Death Valley

  1. Great you made it to the fascinating Death Valley. Looking forward to all your hikes and explorations in one of my favorite national park. Mosaic Canyon and the Sand Dunes are quite a drive from you but it is worth going 🙂 Well most of the cool stuff are long drives but all worth visiting. Enjoy

  2. Lindsay says:

    Looks quieter than when we were there in April … and probably a little cooler. Enjoy xx
    Looking forward to some tips for our next visit as we were only there a couple of days 😦

    • placestheygo says:

      We definitely picked a great week to visit, Lindsay, with perfect temps. There are very few people here and we have only been to the most popular places so far. We did Mosaic Canyon today after your recommendation…beautiful!!!

  3. Jerry and Carlene Francis says:

    We think Death Valley is one of the most fascinating places we have ever visited. Hope we can get there this winter when we leave the frozen tundra of Ohio after the holidays.

    • placestheygo says:

      Maybe you need to leave Ohio right away! Sure doesn’t look very pleasant up there (unless you enjoy snow and cold). Death Valley has been a wonderful surprise with all the beauty and various physical features.

      • Jerry and Carlene Francis says:

        No, I do not enjoy the snow and cold!! But….Grandma says we are spending the holidays with our grandkids (which I enjoy also, but I don’t tell her).

  4. pmbweaver says:

    We had the best time in DV. When we explain DV to people, they just don’t get it. They think it is just some big flat land that has a ton of sand. Oh how wrong they are.

    We didn’t do any hiking when we were there. It was May and way too hot for hiking. We are looking ofre

    • placestheygo says:

      Marsha, we had the same idea of Death Valley until we saw your blog and several others. What a beautiful place! Every turn has something new to offer. We are having perfect weather for hiking. We delayed our arrival, waiting for the temps to cool down.

  5. Wayne Scott says:

    Another place for our ‘Bucket List’ Beninning to wonder if we will ever make it back East!! So many real cool things yet to see out here in the ‘wild west’.
    Thanks for the great info and Pics.

    • placestheygo says:

      We know exactly how you feel, Wayne. There is just so much out west that we don’t really need to ever go back east:)

      Yes, put Death Valley on your list! An unbelievable place of beauty:)

  6. cathy says:

    Try to check out “Scotty’s Castle.” It’s pretty interesting. Enjoy the hiking!

  7. Scott says:

    We are at the Xantera campground, today and leaving on Saturday. I thought I had my reservations at the state park, but i made a mistake. Titus canyon is an awesome drive. Marble canyon is our favorite hike. Let us know if you need any help finding some trails.

  8. Sherry says:

    Death Valley has been on my list forever and I’m really happy to see your great pictures. Love the sea level sign above your head and the beautiful candle drippings.. Really interesting terrain. You sure did a lot in one day.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Sherry! Our days will be really packed. Each area is quite a drive from other areas, so we need to so everything in that area when we are there. I could only get reservations for five nights so we have a lot to see and do each day:)

  9. Dave & Skruffy (GoingRvWay.com) says:

    What I remember of Death Valley, in a visit with my family as a child, was standing close to lowest elevation looking up at Mount Whitney which is the highest elevation in the 48 lower states. It really shows you just high a 14,500 foot mountain really is. Also remember just how HOT Death Valley can get in the summer…my next visit will be in the winter, that much is for sure. –Dave (GoingRvWay.com…..still staying out of the sinkholes here in Holiday Florida)

    • placestheygo says:

      Luckily for us, Dave, we chose a week with temps in the 70’s and very cool nights. I can’t imagine trying to visit this place in the summer…crazy!

      Glad that the sinkholes are staying clear of your place:)

  10. Erin says:

    Death Valley is so fascinating … I’ve read about visits made by others, but don’t recall any of them mentioning the devil’s golf course.

    • placestheygo says:

      This is such a wonderful place, Erin. You must get here one day. Not sure why others haven’t mentioned the “golf” course. It is on a route to see other places. It was quite interesting.

  11. Jodee Gravel says:

    Great pic of John at the bridge 🙂 I always forget there is so much variety there – my mother loved DV. What used to be the world’s tallest flag pole is in Calipatria, CA. It is 184 ft tall, and the top is Sea Level 🙂 It is strange to stand at its base and look up that far! But you’ve gotten even lower there – that sign on the hillside gives a great perspective. Love all the information and history from you explorations….enjoy!!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Jodee:) It is very strange to think just how low we are here in DV. Not to long ago we were commenting how we were more than two miles above sea level. I guess we like extremes:)

  12. Rick Doyle says:

    Thanks for the tour of Death Valley – it was interesting as we plan on stopping there on our way home from Palm Springs next year. Lots of great pics!

  13. Laurel says:

    We haven’t been to Death Valley in several years — you definitely have to choose the right time to visit, and it looks like you’re there at the perfect time! I notice you’re wearing a jacket, so the temps must be pleasant. We might get down there sometime in Jan/Feb, so I’m looking forward to your explorations. Lovely photos of Artist’s Drive.

  14. Nan & John says:

    Another super post! We loved the night sky and the stars at night.

  15. LuAnn says:

    Another part of this country where you and John will help to plan our itinerary for a future visit. 🙂

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