Well, we made it to California. Death Valley is up to 282 feet below sea level. The temperatures vary throughout the park today we had 70s in the mountains and 109 in the valley floor.
I made crazy creatures in the visitors center.
We camped at a place called Stovepipe Wells RV Park. It is a private company in the park but they had full hook-ups so that was a good fit for us. We didn’t want to be stuck with no AC in the heat.
We hiked a lot of trails. Some of my favorites were Natural Bridges, Salt Creek and Mosaic Canyon.
Natural Bridges had a huge natural bridge. In high water times the water rushed below the bridge carving out the canyon.
Salt Creek was full of an endangered fish called the Pupfish. We saw hundreds of them swimming in little spring fed streams. The water is over 90F and very high in salt but the fish have adapted.
We visited the salt flats that sometimes form a lake. Death Valley was formed with a plate slipped and moved away from another. The mountains on the west are high and don’t allow the remnants of the storms passing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to reach the canyon. In the evening it is toasty hot but windy and dry.
We drove this crazy 26 mile road , Titus Canyon, that was only for 4x4s. I fully protested the drive as it was VERY bumpy. Mom distracted me with a pack of Tic-Tacs and it camped me down. It started out just bumpy but then got crazy twisty with lots of rough switchbacks. The truck handled it well. Dad was an excellent driver. After many miles and about 2 hours of driving we entered the Titus Canyon Narrows. The narrows were very cool and the truck barely fit through some of the spaces. We really wished we had the jeep for that trail but the truck did well.
Artisits Palate was very colorful!
We even saw wild coyote!
We spent the evenings the pool cooling off after out hot hikes. I was swimming all over. I really enjoyed the sunsets, they were so colorful.
We saw something called the Devil’s Golf Course. “Only the devil himself would have a golf course this bad”. The roughness is actually salt crystals that have formed.
There was another place called Devil’s Cornfield that was very cool.
We hiked in Mosaic Canyon. It was cool in the shade but super hot in the sun. We drank lots of water as we hiked the several mile trail. We had to climb over giant boulders to keep going up the trail. Eventually we came to one we didn’t want to climb. This was one of my favorites!
We also visited Scotty’s Castle, former sort of home of Death Valley Scotty, a swindler and storyteller. We toured the house/castle/ranch and learned all about how he tricked investors into thinking he had a gold mine.
Up early one day and we visited the Mesquite Sand Dunes. We had a great time playing in the sand and running up and rolling down the dunes. We tracked animals. This is a sidewinder snake and a lizard. Part of Star Wars was filmed on the dunes. I guess the scene where C3PO and R2D2 were wandering the desert.
Our last hike was to Darwin Falls. It is a spring fed falls in the middle of the desert. It was a beautiful hike because the weather stayed around 75F and was even a bit humid! After we climbed rocks, over rivers and around trees we got to the waterfall. On the way out we saw lots of lizards and even a BAT!
We earned a special hiking sticker for completing 4 points of hikes on our visit.
We called it a day and returned to the camper to organize, journal and relax. There was a Kyle Petty fundraising motorcycle ride happening at the Stovepipe Gas Station next door so we saw LOTS of motorcycles! The rumble went away, eventually.
We played at the sand dunes the last night at sunset and moonrise. There was a full moon so there was plenty of light to see critters in the sand!
After showers I sorted my M&Ms and took more selfies on Mom’s phone.
Off to Uncle Matt’s in California next for some adventuring!