My trip to Death Valley....
Death Valley Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
My trip to Death Valley National Park, CA started on Thursday, Thanxgiving (Nov 27, 08). Waking up at ~ 5 am felt kinda tough but I was very much excited about getting my ass out of chilly Philly and leaving everything else behind me for several days. Waiting for a train when the temperature was in the 30’s (Fahrenheit, ~0 C) caused a significant shrinkage problem ‘downstairs’, so not feeling like a macho man anymore I hopped on the train heading to PHL (Philadelphia International Airport), US Airways terminal.
US Airways experience: I can only say ‘God bless US Airways and.... the service they provide’ (sarcastic). My flight from Philly to Las Vegas was delayed because of some mechanical issue which was fixed within ~ 1 h, so many people were very ‘happy’ about it. The flight back from Vegas to Philly was also delayed, but this time only for….2 hours and again some kinda engine failure. As one guy sitting right next to me put it’ I ain’t flying with no engine, better just wait for 2 hours’, yeah, all of us have a sense of humor….some dudes/dudettes decided to kill their time/remaining money on the slots in the airport. Yeah, wanna add that this time we had attractive stewardesses with a nice…posture, so I was glad that I got the C-seats (aisle). I don’t buy the food on the plane since it doesn’t taste right to me, but if you wanna get a box (I mean the food), it costs $7 on the domestic flights nowadays.
After you land in McCarran International Airport (Welcome to Las Vegas!), take the free shuttle bus to one huge car rental building where you can rent any vehicle you feel like….probably even a limo, if you think it’s cool to drive it in the desert/canyons. My choice was a 4-door Suzuki Forenza (small car, fuel-efficient and cheapest), though I didn’t really like the vehicle. I headed to Beatty, NV, a small town located 120 miles NW of Las Vegas and ~10 miles from Death Valley (entrance, CA/NV border), following my portable GPS and, obviously, listening to my CDs for ~2 h, otherwise I would’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel since it was dark outside. At night there’s nothing to see on the road EXCEPT the MOST AMAZING STARRY SKY!!! (no Moon and clouds- perfect) => the star atlas was just right above my head, I tried to take a couple of pix but they turned out to be the ‘Black Square’ painting by Malevich.
I stayed at Club Exchange motel in Beatty, the room price per night was ~ half the amount you would pay at Furnace Creek or Stovepipe Wells areas located in the center of Death Valley. The room was spacious, quite clean, 3 mirrors, 2 were big enough to see all of you (for those who like to expose themselves after taking shower), the furniture was simple and old-looking/fashioned. It’s just a typical motel in that area, so if you want to spend your honeymoon with your…friend’s girl/boyfriend then it’s not the place to be. The only ‘food’ place aka Mexican restaurant in Beatty was ‘Ensenada Grill’, the food was between you’ve got no choice and you have to eat something, it was alright….. and if you are a fan of Mexican cuisine, you’ll be just fine. That place got crowded very much in the evenings since many people traveled through and stayed in Beatty on the Thanxgiving break, also I saw some local old cowboys and sheriff there.
Over the next 3 days I traveled to every point of interest I was excited about in Death Valley, in other words, was all over the place and checked most of the restrooms. Once you pay a $ 20 entrance fee per vehicle and get a red sticker you can explore DV for 7 days. The speed limit is 70 mph on a straight road which means everyone is gonna make 80 at least. At the visitor center located in Furnace Creek you should get a map of Death Valley- very, very helpful!!!
I drove to the most places shown on the map except Panamint Springs. My favorites were Zabriskie point (late afternoon), Dante’s view (the whole valley is seen from 5475 feet (1.67 km) above sea level), Mesquite Sand Dunes (don’t forget to walk to the highest dune!), Scotty’s Castle (take a tour just for fun) and I would say Ubehebe Crater (an extinct volcano, you can take a walk down). Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the U.S. where everyone takes a picture in front of the sign (see the photo), Artist’s Drive, Natural Bridge (Arc) and the other places were alright. Also visited a ghost town Rhyolite, a former gold-digging place which didn’t have as much gold as everyone expected at some point (1900’s) and later was abandoned.
It’s the best time to hike since the daily average temperature was around 70’s, a bit windy and no need to carry much water. I hiked Golden Canyon Trail, Natural Bridge Canyon, Salt Creek Trail, Mosaic Canyon, Dante’s Ridge, a bit of Titus Canyon. All walks were around 2-3 miles round-trip.
If you are into hiking, driving in the desert/mountains/canyons (which could be rough if you have a small vehicle and you’ll feel every bump of an unpaved road), camping and exploring that type of landscape, then you will definitely have a great time!
The pictures are just the still images and can’t really describe what I felt when I was in Death Valley, though they’ll always remind me of my Death Valley experience….