Death Valley Road Trip

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One of the most fascinating places in America would have to be Death Valley National Park.  Best seen by car, add Death Valley to your list of road trips you should make.  If you’re a lover of nature or love to photograph landscapes, some very excellent highways will take you to and through this stunning National Park.

What’s so fascinating about Death Valley is that it’s one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on earth.  It’s about 192 feet below sea level.  Desolate, isolated and surreal, it’s got to be one of the most interesting places in the U.S. to visit, whether you stay for a day or longer. Death Valley, named so because of its history of early explorers and pioneers, thirsty for gold, who attempted to cross it during the days of the California Gold Rush.  These early explorers met a sure death at the hands of nature from extreme heat exhaustion.  Death Valley is 3.4 million acres of desert and mountains in a desolate wilderness with temperatures around the 108 degrees Fahrenheit range.  Luckily today, the modern traveler has an air conditioned vehicle, paved roads and plenty of water.  Fear not, Death Valley also offers four very suitable places to either set up camp or stay in the luxury of a resort.  There’s also a Visitors Center which is full of useful tourist, geological and historical information of the Park, where to go and what to see.  And please, don’t leave your “footprint,” when you part.  Leave the desert as you found it, unspoiled and clean so that you grandchildren and their grandchildren will enjoy it in the years to come.

If you’re driving from Las Vegas as we did, you’ll drive northwest and enter Death Valley from the town of Shoshone. The closer you get to Death Valley, the landscape becomes more and more spectacular.  This desert is a landscape photographer’s dream location. If you’ve never been to a desert before, you are about to be amazed.

Tourist attractions in Death Valley?  There’s actually much to do in Death Valley especially for the nature lover, bird watcher and those that love to hike.  If you’re a photographer, it goes without saying, you have a lot of raw material here.  Photographing the barren landscapes of Death Valley at sunrise and sunset will reward you with some amazing photographs.  Driving along Hwy 190, the desert scenery of red colored desert mountain ranges, steam rising out of Furnace creek and sand dunes further beyond will give you an idea of what to expect.

East of Furnace Creek along Highway 190, do stop the car at Zabriskie’s Point, probably one of the most famous sites in Death Valley.  You can reach Zabriskie’s lookout point along Highway 190.  To reach the top of the lookout, it’s a short walk up the hill – not a steep hill, so most people can reach the top easily.  It’s windy at the top, hold onto your hats because the wind seems to blow every which way in high speed.   What you’ll see?  You’ll see ribbon like formations in the white rock of the mountain chain.  If you want to catch some great shots, best view Zabriskie’s Point at sunrise or sunset.

Don’t miss Dante’s View.  Drive up the very winding, narrow mountain road some 5,000 feet up to reach Dante’s View.  One of the most spectacular scenes you’ll find of  the mountains of the desert looming over Furnace Creek which stretches out to the horizon of Death Valley.

Where to Stay in Death Valley?

Furnace Creek Resort Inn overlooking Furnace Creek is a four diamond resort in the center of Death Valley open between October and May.  It’s a historic hotel with palm trees, swimming pools and a golf course, sitting in the middle of nowhere in the desert.  We drove around the bend in the highway and suddenly a slightly exotic hotel, (seemingly abandoned because it was closed when we were there) with palm trees swaying in the wind.  It was truly a surreal sight to behold with the steam rising out of Furnace Creek which is across the road.

Nice to note for seniors:  The Furnace Creek Resort offers discounts boasting “the more you stay, the less you pay,” policy for seniors over 60 years of age.

The Ranch at Furnace Creek offers cabins, standard and deluxe rooms as well as campgrounds.  The campgrounds also provide full hookups for RV parking.

Other lodging available in Death Valley National Park:  Stovepipe Wells Village concession with resort accommodation and some RV camping.  Last but not least, Panamint Springs Resort and campgrounds in Death Valley.

Sunsets in Death Valley are spectacular.  Occasionally there’s a powerful wind that whips up the sand of the sand dunes, accompanied by steam rising out of the mirage of the creek.  The sky takes on marvelous colors as the sun vanishes.  Death Valley, some 192 feet below sea level is worth a visit. Add it to your bucket list of road trips and campsites not to be missed.

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Looking down from Dante’s Point to Furnace Creek