This valley is located on the east, between the border of California & Nevada and is the hottest, driest and lowest elevation in Northern California. Death Valley is one of the few places we had, on our "To be completed" list. With extreme temperatures in summer, we found that December, January and February are the comfortable months to visit. We visited Death valley in February over the long weekend. The temperatures were between 75-85 and it was still hot !! So, if you have 2 days to spare, read on.. you will find yourself buried in a world of extreme temperatures, salt flats, sand dunes and some amazing landscapes.
View Death Valley- Las Vegas roadtrip in a larger map
We left on a Friday evening, stayed at Bakersfield for the night. Since we had already travelled via CA 178 to US 395 earlier, we changed our route a bit and took CA 58, CA 14, US 395 and CA 190 E. CA 14 is a long uninteresting route and a bit boring I think. ( if you have already travelled on US 395 earlier ) The scenery is so much more appealing to the eyes for US 395 via CA 178 to US 395 than coming on CA14 and US 395. The last gas station before you hit CA 190E is just before Fall road, 5 mins before the right turn to Death valley. Make sure you fill up here as there is nothing till Stovepipe Wells! You may not see / pass by anyone for miles if you run out of gas..
For accomodation in the park, we found StovePipe Wells and Furnace Creek to be more populated, lots of stores, gas stations, camp grounds, golf courses and restaurants to satisfy your hunger after a long day. During the busy long weekends and the winter months, accomodations can be pretty tough to get. Do plan your trip in advance to avoid disappointment. It is better to stay in the park rather than to stay in nearby towns 2-3 hours away. http://www.escapetodeathvalley.com/ and http://www.furnacecreekresort.com/ are the two websites that you can refer to.
I found the following facts from NPS.Gov very informative.
- The highest mountain in Death Valley National Park is 11,049 foot Telescope Peak. The vertical drop from the peak to the Badwater Basin is twice the depth of Grand Canyon.
-Rainfall in Death Valley averages less than 2 inches a year. There have been some years of no recorded rainfall at all!
-In July of 1913, Death Valley recorded five consecutive days of 129 degrees or above. On July the 10th, a reading of 134 degrees Fahrenheit was taken. This world record was held for nine years.
-The salt pan on the floor of Death Valley covers more than 200 square miles. It is 40 miles long and more than 5 miles wide.
Some places to enjoy Sunrise: Dante's View, Zabriskie Point, Sand Dunes, Devils Cornfield, Badwater & Furnace Creek.
Some places to enjoy Sunset: Artists Drive, Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point &Badwater Salt Flats.
( Be there an hour after sunrise & an hour before sunset )
In general, just driving in Death Valley is an expereince in itself with its very unqiue and distinctive vistas. However, the following are the "Not to miss" areas that we can recommend:
- Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes:
|Mesquite Sand Dunes|
- Furnace Creek Golf Course:
- Artist's Drive:
- Devil's Golf Course:
|Devils Golf Course|
|Salt crystal spires|
- Badwater Basin:
- Zabriskie Point:
- Dante's View:
- Racetrack Playa:
There are hikes and other activities that you can do. Please visit http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/places-to-go.htm for more details.
( A word of caution.. Since cell phone service is limited, it is always advisable to carry maps, know your GPS. I always use quickest route on my journeys, as the shortest route has many times taken me on some unknown, unfamiliar path which may be dangerous. If you think you are on the wrong path, turn around. Sometimes its best to trust your instincts especially if you see yourself driving off-path, than rely on the GPS .. you will be thankful you did.
I have read a couple of instances where there have been deaths because of incorrect decisions in the Death Valley. Always have someone know your whereabouts and the location where you are going. And stay safe.
|CA 190 towards Death Valley from US 395|