Death Valley National Park, Pahrump, and Las Vegas
Death Valley Travel Blog› entry 48 of 77 › view all entries
We got up, packed up, and headed off into the desert! It was over 100 degrees when we reached the Death Valley general store and gas station. (gas here was actually cheaper than places before the park...some places over $4 a gallon, the highest we saw all trip! I think they play on peoples fear of running out of gas inside this large, hot park...miles from anywhere. The general store was about .50 cents cheaper that the stations in the last town) You should definately top off your tank regardless of price, though. If you run out of gas and water here...you could die! Inside the park, we walked a trail to the remains of an old borax mining operation, which was once the main industry around here.
They used to use 20-mule teams to haul the borax to market. We stopped at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, and learned a lot about the park. They had several displays featuring the early mining operations, borax samples, etc. There was also a post office there, we took the opportunity to send out a few more post cards. We had a nice (but expensive) lunch in the complex, then went exploring. The ancient dried up lake bed left great salt flats, known as the "Devil's Golf Course". The road leading up to it is very bumpy and uneven...4 wheel drive is a recommended. When the old lake that was here dried up, it left all these uneven, crystallized salt deposits. Tyler pried up a small triangle of salt crystal to keep as a souviner.
We continued on to Badwater Basin, which at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest spot in the continental United States. It is also one of the hottest! The temperature here today reached 113 degrees, just a couple degrees shy of the 115 it was in the Badlands. ( the Badlands, though, was an anomoly and a record...that temperature around here is normal!) There was a boardwalk and some water in Badwater Basin ( so named because of the high salt content, early traveler's horses would not drink here, because of "bad water") A sign high up on the cliff indicates where sea level is.
We drove on through the desert into Nevada, passing through the town of Pahrump. Dawn was happy about that, because that was the hometown of her favorite radio personality, Art Bell. We drove down into Las Vegas, and actually found a KOA RV park, right on the Las Vegas Strip! I thought that was cool, but Dawn was mortified that we were the only tent campers there. It was right behind the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. Tyler and I went in the pool/ hot tub complex for about an hour, then Tyler and Dawn went to bed. I was more hungry than tired, so I went to the casino and got something to eat. Couldn't resist playing a little roulette. Was fortunate to break even!