We began our road trip on Tuesday, October 22, 1996, from Mountain View, CA. It takes us seven hours to go there. By the time we got close to Death Valley, it was dark outside. Instead of attempting to wrestle with putting up our tent in blackness, we decided to stay in a historic hotel in Lone Pine, with a spectacular view of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States.
Wensday morning we drove east into Death Valley, the lowest point in the U.S. We found a campsite in Furnace Creek and set up camp,
then drove south to explore some hiking trails. The first one we encountered was the Artist's Palette Scenic Drive, where we saw colorful rock formations caused by chemical weathering. Our next stop was Badwater. We were 290 feet below sea level. This is lowest point in the National park. After walking on salt and other leached minerals, we took the Natural Bridge Canyon trail. We hiked 1.3 miles up into the river bed to see a natural bridge formed by selective erosion. It was dark very early. We returned to our tent around 20 and went to bed.
Thursday began with the hike in Golden Canyon to Zabriskie Point. It is a 5.3 mile journey (each-way) through mud dunes and a dried up river bed. Zabriskie Point is an overlook with Telescope Peak (13,200 feet), where we gazed into Badwater. We decided to drive north to Scotty's Castle, after our long hike. This is very nice the Spanish-styled castle. We enjoyed the tour, given by members of the National Park.
They dressed in clothes from that period. We finished off the day by viewing the sunset at Ubehebe Crater and Little Hebe Crater. Then, we went back to our tent at Mesquite Campground in the northern end of the park.
Friday, the 25th, we drove west out of Death Valley, stopping at the Mosaic Canyon and Darwin Falls hiking trails before we left the park. Mosaic Canyon is named after its walls of colorful rocks, resembling mosaic tiling. The trail is very beautiful. It leads through a river bed and dried waterfalls.
Darwin Falls was an amazing hike through a lush river bed. It has a large waterfall at the end. This is the middle of a desert! The cool, fresh water falling all around us was great. Unfortunately, we have to leave the park and head home.
There are at least a lot of hiking trails that we would like to explore sometime soon. Perhaps this fall...