(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month. Check out my last posts about Rocky Mountain, Arches, Joshua Tree, and up next is Death Valley National Park…)
Our Death Valley trip was un-planned. Back in January, we were on our way to Mt. Whitney and just driving along. Not knowing how far our drive would take us on day one, we were looking for a place to camp for the night that wasn’t far from where we were (some where outside Vegas) and free. We searched the map and decided, what the heck, lets spend the night in Death Valley!
Our first view of the National Park were, well, dark (see picture above). We arrived well after sundown and had no idea was around us, with only the road illuminated by our headlamps. When we woke up, we were floored. It was amazing!
We didn’t have a whole lot of time to waste, we were on our way to Mt. Whitney, but we couldn’t resist the urge to explore this wonder.
When you pull up the website, the first thing you read is this is the hottest, driest and lowest national park. My favorite sign was the one that indicated we were BELOW sea level.
We pretty much explored the whole middle section of the park, leaving a few gems to come back to in the future.
First up , the Mesquite flat sand dunes that we had a blast running up and rolling down. (we’re still finding sand in places).
Then we drove around the Artist’s Drive to see Artist’s Palatte, a uniquely colored rock and sand formation.
Lastly, before exiting the park, we ran (literally) to Darwin Falls, a beautiful oasis with waterfall amid the dry desert.
Next time we visit, we really want to go up to Scotty’s Castle.
- Can get there through Nevada off of HW 95
- Or from California via HW 395 or HW 127
- Park website.
- I highly suggest going anytime BUT the summer. We had a friend that visited in July and said it was unbearably hot, obviously.
- Allow 2-3 days to see the WHOLE park.
- Free camping! Yep, there’s a few, first-come-first-serve, free campsites in Death Valley. We snagged one!
- Bring a lot of water, even during the “winter” months. It may not be hot, but it is surely very dry.