‘’How could rocks and sand and silence make us afraid and yet be so wonderful?’’ Edna Brush Perkins
What is Death Valley like you ask? What is there to do?
Death Valley is a land of superlatives. It is the bottom of the continent, the furthest extent of heat and drought, and the outer edge of life
HOT – Death Valley is officially the hottest place on earth. It holds the worlds record for hottest air temperature, 134’F (57degrees)
DRY – Death Valley is the driest place in the United States. It gets that distinction by having the lowest average rainfall of any place in the country – less than two inches per year. Some years, there is no rain here at all.
LOW – Badwater Basin, in the heart of Death Valley, is 282 feet below sea level. It’s the lowest point in North America.
We are on our way to Vegas after having just spent 5 days hiking in Yosemite, followed by an awesome Eastern Sierra Road Trip and then we hit Death Valley. We realised pretty quick why it’s called Death Valley. It’s SOOOOO hot, how could anything survive here?
Here are our recommendations of what to see and do in 1 day driving through this remarkable landscape:
8 Things To Do/See In Death Valley National Park:
We started at the West Entrance near lone pine and drove east towards Vegas stopping at various points along the way.
Father Crowley Point
This point is near the west entrance of the park. It has a paved parking lot but there is an additional dirt road that goes out to the point. Most tourists walk out along the dirt road to down to the point to see a beautiful view overlooking Death Valley.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
The most visible (but not the largest) sand dunes in Death Valley National Park are the Mesquite Flat Dunes. A small parking lot located off Highway 190 three miles south of Stove Pipe Wells offers a great starting point for a trek out to the dunes.
There is no formal trail to follow, just strike out for the high sands. The highest dune rises 100 feet above the desert floor. There are some dead trees, which are fitting for the photos.
Not really anything to do with corn but an imaginatively named spot for the Arrowweed. This desert survivor has adapted to challenging conditions of blowing sand and soil erosion by growing in clumps. Its worth a quick stop for a photo-op.
Located at the south end of Death Valley National Park is Badwater, the lowest point of land in the western hemisphere at 277ft/85m below sea level. This area is very hot, apparently even in the winter. Badwater is a shallow lake surrounded by mountains and rimmed with salt. There is a parking area here and boardwalks that allow you to walk out into the flood plain.
Devil’s Golf Course
Devil’s Golf Course is a flat expanse of sharp salt crystals that seem to go on endlessly. It has the appearance of a field of jagged boulders made of salt along the valley floor. There is a pull out area and small parking lot.
Probably my favourite spot in Death Valley is Artist’s Drive. A one-way road that leads past dramatic rock formations. One area on this road is known as Painter’s Palette because of the array of colours that can be seen in the rocks. This is a great sight in Death Valley which is easy to see from the comfort of your car and don’t require hiking which we’d already done a fair bit of.
There is a fantastic view of the western part of Death Valley and the Panamint Mountains. Here you are surrounded by gold-coloured rocks; in the foreground is Manly Bacon Peak.
Furnace Creek Visitor Centre:
Make sure you stop off here to see the interesting Death Valley Museum, speak to a ranger, and pick up souvenirs, maps and water before continuing on.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife in death valley, we stumbled upon a couple of Coyotes just wandering in the desert.
Also make sure you take plenty of water and don’t use the air-con so as to not over-heat the car.
Driving through Death Valley is a real experience, although it’s extremely hot, its worth it to experience otherworldly landscapes, desert wildlife and beautiful mountains in multitudes of colours.