Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall Break: Death Valley Day 1

On Thursday we left Joshua Tree National Park and headed Noth West to Death Valley National Park. The drive was supposed to take four hours; but after a lunch and emergency bathroom stop we ended up getting into the park at around 2 pm local time. 

In order to get the most out of our visit, we decided to drop off the trailer at camp and then take off to do some sightseeing. 

Death Valley is a huge park. It takes a lot of driving to reach the different points of interest in the park. There were several we chose not to visit simply because of how many hours or would take for us to reach them. Many of them are also on narrow dirt roads which make them slow to travel.

On Thursday we visited three spots. The first was Badwater, the lowest point on the western hemisphere.
Badwater is 282 feet below sea level.  It is a dried up lake bed where sediments like salt mud have accumulated. As we walked to.the lowest point we stepped on the salt mud that made the ground look a white-grey color and felt gravely, yet pliable. There were several man-made holes made in the ground along the way by people who wondered how far below the surface was the water. Some of them were several inches deep and contained water in them.

Badwater got its name from a prospector who discovered this area where there was still water in the lake. He attempted to make his mule we drink the water but the animal refused because of the the high salt concentration. So the prospector called the lake Badwater and the name stuck.

After being in the car for several hours the kids were eager to stretch their legs. They took off down the boardwalk and ran across the end of the Badwater and back to the parking lot.

Our second stop was the Devil's Golf course. An area covered by salt crystals grouped in jagged and very sharp rock formations. 

The sign warned visitors of the dangers of hiking in this area. One of the kids in our group tripped and scraped her knee really bad. She was really sad.

It was named after a line on the original 1934 guidebook which stated "only the devil could play golf' on its surface, due to the rough texture of the formations.

Afterwards we drove through Artist Drive. It is a paved road through an alluvial (river) fan carved ravine. The side walls are thick sedimentary rock up to 4,000 feet tall. Artist Drive is very colorful because of the minerals deposited. They were orange, yellow, green and purple.

By the time we reached the drive the sun had set and it had started to get dark. So we took pictures from the truck without getting out. 

It was the perfect time to see bats fluttering across the road. There were quite a few of them.

It was really nice to visit these sights in cooler temperatures. As soon as the sun went down the temperature dropped by 10 degrees form the 90's  to low 80's. 

We enjoyed exploring in cooler weather and decided to do the same the next day.