Death Valley was an amazing place. Supposedly it is the hottest place on earth (whilst we were there the temperature reached 116, which I calculated as 46.7 for us metric-ites), it also contains both the lowest and highest point in the US.
We stayed at Stovepipe Wells, one of just four lodges within the park. Rooms were quite adequate and the place had a general store, a restaurant, a bar and a gift shop.
I had no phone reception in all of Death Valley (some people claim to get some in certain parts, but I couldn’t find any) and the internet didn’t work. Yes, I spent 2.5 days without phone or internet.
5 highlights of my time there:
1. Dante’s View, which yielded this amazing sunset.
2. The salt flats of Badwater. This is the lowest point in the US at 85 meters below sea level.
Every year there is a race that goes from the lowest point in Death Valley (Badwater 182 feet below) and travels 135 miles to Whitney Portal (the highest point in the US), taking in three mountain ranges on its route. This takes place in July, which is the hottest month of the year.
3. Zabriskie Point, also good for sunsets but we did it in the day.
Zabriskie Point was also featured in the movie of the same name from 1970. A somewhat baffling film it featured a great soundtrack and a plot that involved two hippies climbing up Zabriskie’s Point to have sex (ok there was a bit more to it than that, with some student uprisings and a guy who may or may not have shot a cop. I haven’t seen it in years, and I read there’s a resurgence of interest in the film. Maybe it was ahead of its time after all).
4. The ghost town of Rhyolite.
This former gold-mining boomtown consisted of a school for 250 children, a hotel, bars and everything a thriving town needed. The town was deserted in 1916, five years after the mine closed down.
5. Sand dunes next to Stovepipe wells.
I always thought dunes are what sand does when it gets together in a desert. Apparently not. To get a sand dune you need a lot of sand and very little vegetation, an ‘obstacle’ such as a tree or rock and finally some wind to blow it into a dune. I saw a video about it. Half an hour in a room with AC; believe me I would have watched anything to get in that room.