After the rally we headed north to Las Vegas. We ended up staying there for two nights so Marc could do some work and he needed to do some repairs to our trailer breaks. Then we headed on to Death Valley. This is a place Marcus had on his list of “want to visit places.” I wasn’t actually sure what to expect. As we descended into the valley the temperatures went up. When we reached the Furnace Creek Visitor Center the thermometer read 104 degrees.
We watched a film on Death Valley and visited the museum at the visitor center to learn about the area. We picked up Junior Ranger Programs for Marcus and Caroline to complete. We visited Zabriskie Point to take in some unique views.
We decided to spend the night at Sunset Campground which was across the street from the visitor center. In the evening we attended a ranger program to learn about the trains used in Death Valley. We also learned about the borax that was mined here and about the beautiful flowers that can be found. The stars here were amazing because of the lack of light pollution. Marcus and I spent some time learning about star location with a guide they had given us at the visitor center. Since we had no hookups it was a warm night without air conditioning. We were up and ready to go by 7AM. Our first stop was Badwater Basin. The lowest point in the continential US. It is 282′ below sea level. Water flows off the mountains dissolving minerals and salts as it flows down. The water evaporates and the salt is left.
Our next stop was Natural Bridge. We hiked a mile into the canyon. Along the way the formations that had been created by sedimentation, fault movement and erosion awed us.
Next we followed Artist’s Drive. It’s a nine miles one way trip through multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills.
Then we drove to the Gold Canyon Trail and hiked about a mile to the Red Cathederal. The views as we walked through the canyon were spectacular, but it was starting to get hotter.
Before heading back to the visitor center we stopped at the Harmony Borax Mine. We learned how borax was surface mined. Then boiled with carbonated water and the sediments sunk to the bottom. Then metal rods collected the refined borax. This couldn’t be done in the heat of the summer because this process could not take place in temperatures over 120 degrees. Twenty mule teams were used to carry the borax to market.
Marcus and Caroline completed there Junior Ranger Programs and turned them in before we picked up the camper and moved on.
We drove past the Stovepipe Wells area of the park. The drive out of Death Valley was teadious for Marc. There were several steep climbs and equally steep descents. I am so glad I wasn’t driving. When we reached Town Pass we stopped to admire the flowers.
Death Valley was definitely more than I had expected. The rock formations are so diverse. The colors and the shapes each gave me a different feeling. I am thankful we were able to experience this natural miracle.