After living it up for a few days in Vegas, it was time for our last major stop before we headed home. Our destination of choice? DEATH VALLEY!
As we drove up to Beatty where we were spending the night before entering the Valley, we noticed some funny looking planes in the sky. After stopping to see what they were, Barry declared they were unmanned drones! Well of course he pulled straight over, jumped out of the car and started snapping away. Meanwhile I was waiting for some official type dude to come running over and confiscate the camera!
A bit further down the road and we realised we were travelling alongside Area 51. Maybe the drones were actually some kind of alien spaceships? There was hardly anything along these roads; just miles, upon miles of desert land. But the places that were there, just had to milk the fact that they were near Area 51. Like the petrol garage we stopped at that claimed to be an official Area 51 Alien Center!
Once we reached our Motel 6 in Beatty, without being sucked into Area 51, or any loitering alien spaceships, we settled in for the night. The next morning we treated ourselves to some of Jed’s Jerky. There was a store next door to the hotel called the Nut & Candy co and inside they had a Subway and Jed’s Jerky. This was the real fresh jerky. Not like the packaged stuff you get in the supermarket. So in order to try something different we bought Buffalo, Boar and Venison. They made for some great snacks along the journey and all three tasted completely different.
As we made our way into Death Valley, we crossed back into California where we were able to capture our last state sign.
Death Valley is 3000 square feet and homes terrain ranging from the lowest elevation in North America to it’s highest peak of 11,043 feet. As the distances were so huge, we’d planned ourselves a driving tour so we could stop at all the must see sights. First stop was Zabriskie Point. It is a vista that overlooks Manly Beacon. The terrain here was like nothing we’d ever seen before. It looked like sand, but was rock solid. You could see where water had once woven its way through the landscape, creating all the peaks and troughs that we were met by today.
Next up was Badwater Basin. So named because when a farmer led his cattle to the water, they refused to drink from it. As a result he declared that it must be ‘bad water’. And so the name was born! At 282 feet below sea level, this is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. There was a sign highlighting where sea level is on the surrounding cliff. During heavy rainstorms, a temporary lake still forms in the basin, but when it’s dry it’s covered with salt flats. It looked like the Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, but here there were no dead birds lying in it and there was no horrendous smell making us heave!
We returned to the car and drove onto Natural Bridge. We had just a ½ mile walk from where we parked the car to the bridge. The walk was short, but it was uphill on a gravel track and took us through a narrow canyon with sides that towered above us. Once there, it was clear to see the sandstone arch that had formed. As we walked under it and looked up, we could see cracks running down the bridge. I wondered how long it would be before the cracks met and the bridge came tumbling down? After that thought, we didn’t stand under it for too much longer!
Back in the car and we continued on, passing by Devils Golf Course. It gets its name because the area the course is on is so serrated that only the devil could play golf on it, apparently. We headed on to Artist’s Drive. It is a 9-mile scenic loop through volcanic hills. All the minerals are different colours and so the hills look like an Artists Palette. The road was very narrow and was carved through the hills, but the painted rocks looked very pretty.
We just had two more sights to see; the first being the Salt Creek. Here we had to walk on a boardwalk over a trickling stream. It didn’t feel like we were in Death Valley anymore. There was so much greenery surrounding us made up of Pickleweed and the flowing water was unexpected.
After completing the boardwalk it was time for our last stop off. The sun was starting to set so we knew we didn’t have long before it would be dark. We drove through Devils Cornfield and just behind we could see the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. They were just peaks of pure sand in an otherwise flat area. The tallest of which was 100ft high. They weren’t as spectacular as the white sands in New Mexico, but with the sun setting around them, they were glowing a pale shade of orange.
We finally made it to our last stop. It may seem like we whizzed through Death Valley really quickly but the driving distances were massive and we’d driven about 100 miles through the park and spent over four hours exploring. We were now at Mosaic Canyon. It was another ½ mile walk from the car park to the Canyon. Once there, we were met with smooth marble rocks that created a narrow canyon. As we walked through, we could touch both sides with our arms outstretched it was so narrow.
With the light disappearing behind the mountains, we didn’t hang around for long before we made our journey out of Death Valley and onto Ridgecrest. We spent the night at a Econo Lodge and then took our final drive back to Los Angeles.