Having traveled so far, you have to make a trip to get right to the lowest point of Death Valley, the lowest and hottest dry land in America.
It isn't really anything amazing to see, as there really isn't much to see, unless your a biologist or geologist, but the feeling that your right in the spot you have heard about.
The area in and around Death Valley, is quite stunning, and as the sun moves across the sky, it appears that everywhere you look, the surroundings change colour, and it's quite beautiful.
We all have used Borax at some point, and I still have a big tub of 20 Mule Team Borax safe in my shed, that I use when I find ants nests in my garden. Warm water and sugar with a 1:20 mix, 1 teaspoon of Borax to 20 teaspoons of sugar. But the mix in a jar, pop a few tiny bug sized holes in the jar lid, and the ants take the Borax back to the nest, eat it, and die. Sad but true. I only do this if the ants have got too close to the house and/or causing problems. Otherwise I don't mind them, they do no harm otherwise.
Anyway, and sorry about going off track a little, it's just that I was interested to know where my 20 Mule Team Borax came from and how it got it's name.
Harmony Borax Works, which was active from 1883 to 1888 was an early mining operation, and they actually used a team of 20 mules to transport the partially refined Borax they mined.
Borax is sodium tetraborate and is created by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. Not much to see here at the mine sites, but the site makes for great pics.
This is another of the most famous locations to visit within Death Valley National Park. It is the lowest point in the valley, in the US and world above land. This low salty pool is i believe the most visited, it was evident in the number of people there and statistics of visitors to the park annually.
Like the dead sea is the lowest point in water, death Valley is the lowest point on land. It is so surreal, but I would not advise touching or walking in the water. the information I gathered is that in the rainy season, it does fill up a bit, but dries out quickly due to the ensuing heat.
This is a very dramatic point in Death Valley. Driving to it along the highway, one can not see the unusual landscape, but once you stop at the view point and make it up the incline to the post, it is the most exciting landscape you will see. The color of the landscape is a variation of peach, red, green and coral.
It is surrounded by eroded, colorful badlands, giving it a spectacular form. It is one of the park's most famous view. There were a few visitors when we arrived, but for the 10 minutes we were there, 5 other cars arrived. We only stayed a little while because the heat had picked up to deadly temperatures by 10:00 am. 10 minutes felt like we had been there more than half an hour. We literally run back to the car which was a few feet away in the parking area.
We made a stop at the tawny sand dunes, which were a surprise to us. The sand dunes rise almost 100 ft high and create such a beautiful scenery as one approaches them. The mid morning sunlight accented the ripples in the sand and reminded me of the sand dunes in Dubai.
We walked a little further than we wanted too because our little boy got so excited about playing in the sand. Meanwhile, I was concerned about snakes and any other dangerous sand animals that might have come out to get some sand. Luckily nothing was in view. There were quite a few other visitors that joined us while we ere there. Definitely something to see.
After a visit of Scotty’s castle, we walked to his grave. He died in 1954 and was buried on a hill close to the castle. Take out a few minutes to get there. In commemoration, there is a copper (or is it bronze?) plaque with his portrait. His nose was polished and shining. I guess it brings good luck to rub it.
In his comment a VT member asked to add some activities here.
Now that I definitely had not in mind traveling through this hot desert. But OK, for the young and intrepid tourists here is a website about e.g. hiking in Death Valley.
And on another website I see, that there is so much to do in Death Valley!
This is what they suggest: Auto Touring, Backpacking, Biking, Bird Watching, Camping, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Interpretive Programs, Nature Walks, Stargazing, Swimming, Wilderness Area, Wildlife Viewing.
hot hot hot.
except the stargazing perhaps :)
One of my favorite things to do is meet the locals and/or my fellow travelers. I enjoyed talking to these two girls from Belgium, and Ranger Abby. Ranger Debbie, dressed for the period for the "living history museum" Scotty's Castle gave an informative tour and was a lot of fun.
In 1849, several wagon trains full of eager prospectors heading to the gold mines of California cut a path through death valley seeking a shortcut. Very few wagons make it back out. Reportedly, after the death of a member of one wagon train, another member turned to look back at the valley after they made it through and said “Goodbye Death Valley”. The name stuck. This is where the 49ers passed through the valley.
Just 3 miles south of the orginal site is the village that has California Historical Marker No.441 site of Burned Wagons Point. In 1849 some Jayhawkers miners while trying to establish a shorter route, stopped here and burned what wagons they could spare to dry out some oxen meat to survive. They contiued on with what surviving animals they had. Stovepipe Wells Village has many amenities.
Stovepipe Wells Village
Death Valley, California 92328
Death Valley National Park is huge ... REALLY huge! Approximately 5,219 square miles, or 3.4 million acres, define this western swath of primal countryside, located in southwest America's Mojave Desert. Mining history from the 1800s and early 1900s makes it a location of extreme interest for the history buff. So, what to do here?
DVNP is pretty much a self-directed destination rather one where you will be entertained. This is a rugged primordial locale, with a few paved roads, hundreds of dirt roads, many scattered ghost towns, and incredible geologic formations. You come here to explore all these things. Visitors here are first and foremost adventurous explorers. Don't come here to be pampered.
You can get a pretty good idea of what DVNP is all about by visiting the standard tourist attractions that are located in a few key areas (Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Scotty's Castle), but getting off the beaten track in a high clearance 4x4 vehicle is the real key to learning what makes this place tick. There are many awesome hikes, both marked and cross country. A lifetime can be spent learning all there is to know here. For substantially more background info, visit www.WildDeathValley.com
- For tips about desert hikes, weather etc.
- If you didn't buy an entrance fee at the automates for instance in Badwater, you can buy
- Interesting museum about the history of the fortyniners (the gold diggers of 1849) with old implements
- A 12 minute long introductory slide program about the history of Death Valley, the fauna and
flora (rather dull).
- Exhibition about geology, animals of the desert, Indian culture...
- Gift shop.
Furnace Creek has some historic displays of wagons and equipment used in the mining days. Included are a twenty-mule wagon rig as well as an early steam tractor and its wagons. These were used to haul borax out of Death Valley to the railroad.
I heard the 49ers were leaving San Francisco, but I didn't know they were coming clear out here...oh, wrong 49ers.
This monument stands where Hwy 190 from the south hits sea level. The plaque reads:
"DEATH VALLEY 49ERS GATEWAY
Through this natural gateway the Death Valley Forty-Niners, more than one hundred emigrants from the Middle West, seeking a shortcut to gold fields of central California, entered Death Valley December, 1849. All suffered from thirst and starvation. Two contingents passed southward here, the others proceeded northward seeking to escape from the region.
STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 442
Dedicated December 3, 1849"
Yes, the drive through Death Valley is a scenic drive through the dry lake bed, sand dunes, abandoned mines, tiny towns, and other scenery. The drive through the park is about 100 miles, so plan for several hours, and the gas is very expensive here at $3.43 a gallon when I drove through (nearby Las Vegas had gas as low as $2.80 the day before).
The fee to enter the park is $20 per vehicle, but there is no booth at the entrance, so you could probably pass through safely without paying. I have an annual National Parks Pass, so I was covered, but no one ever asked to see it.
If you have no trailer there are motels/inns located at Stovepipe Wells Village and two at Furnace...more
Stayed at stovepipe wells, Death Valley in march 2012. It was amazing. After a long drive through...more
There are campgrounds near Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. There are also camping areas in...more