This not what we expected
Death Valley to look like.
     ...or is it the HOTEST COOL PLACE IN NORTH AMERICA?  Whatever!  Death Valley National Park is OUTSTANDING!!!  When we first entered Death Valley we were expecting a brown, dry, rocky, desert dirt with a few shrubs all mixed together in a giant furnace.  We were partly right, but we were mostly wrong.  The park featured expansive salt flats, colorful mountains, sand dunes, volcano cones, desert springs and creeks, and tons of canyons through a variety of geologic formations.  This fantastic place is the largest park in the lower 48 as well as the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America.  For those who love heat without humidity, try a July visit were the average high temperature is 115 degrees with a record high of 134!
A coyote gave us a visit one day.
Looking into Ubehebe Crater.
"Salt Creek" is teeming with "pupfish" who can survive in this
super salty environment.  All the water in Death Valley is loaded with
salt to toxic levels.
     This amazing park features the most complete artist's palette of colors in the surrounding landscape that I have ever seen.  In fact, one of the scenic drives is called Artist's Palette.

Scenes from the "Artist Palette" drive.
     "Contrast" is the best description of this place.  Where else can one stand on a salt flat at 282 feet below sea-level in 90 degrees and look up at the surrounding snow-capped mountain range with peaks as high as 11,049 feet and below freezing temperatures.  It is kind of weird driving around this park and, depending upon elevation, passing through 20+ degree temperature swings in seemingly short periods of time.  Although temperatures got up to 90, it was good that we carried sweatshirts wherever we traveled.
Standing in "Badwater" at 282' below sea-level and gazing across
the salt flat to Telescope Peak at 11,049' above sea-level.
Patterns created by the salt and dust
in the salt flat at "Badwater."
     Speaking of contrast, we were there for a rare Death Valley rain storm.  This was a weird experience as the storm, which dropped 0.1-0.2 inches of precipitation, was preceded by hours of steady 30 mph winds and 50 mph gusts.  Unfortunately, the wind was so persistent that we experienced a dust storm.  Although it was sort of cool to watch, RV's are not that air-tight and by the end of the storm every surface inside the rig was covered with desert dust and the floor had dust drifts.  Needless to say, the next day involved an all-day cleaning adventure.
The view from Zabriskie Point.
Looking into some of the upper
canyons of the "Golden Canyon" area.
Nancy surveying Death Valley from "Dante's View."
Although it was in the upper 80's on the valley floor, at "Dante's View"
at 5,475' it was in the low 50's. 
      We were really fortunate to have arrived before the end of the "super-bloom."  Apparently, in October the park experienced the heaviest rain in over 10 years.  I think it rained over 3" in 5 hours in an area which averages only 2" of rain annually. The rain resulted in massive flooding and the destruction of "Scotty's Castle," one of the park highlights.  This heavy fall rainstorm caused the spring "super-bloom."  The primary bloomer was the desert marigold which filled the broad, sweeping desert plains with fields of yellow.  I met one couple who insisted they found over 60 varieties of blooming flowers.
The Desert Marigold.
This flower seems to be the most common in the park.
Notice the little bug trying to stick its head out from
under the stamens in the Desert Five-Spot. 

The "Super-Bloom" fills the valley floor.
     AND the park is the home of Tatooine, the home planet of Luke Skywalker.  Thats right; many scenes of STAR WARS were filmed here.  In fact, a ranger on one hike pointed out the location of several film locations, as well as where the "Jawas" where hanging out spying on R2-D2 and C-3PO. There are several locations around the park which attract people from all over the world to be photographed next to a rock or canyon which appeared in the films.  The park rangers call it "Tatooining."  I guess you can tell that I'm a huge fan, but I really didn't get into "Tatooining."
Views from the valley floor.
     The park is a day hikers paradise.  Although there were many short trails ranging from 2-5 miles, they only serve as a starting place for exploration into the thousands of side canyons which branch out all over.  One day in "Golden Canyon" (a STAR WARS location), I only hiked 2 miles on the trail, but I actually hiked approximately 10 miles as I found so many side canyons. These side canyons where real highlights as they contained arches and tight slot canyons where I had to squeeze and scramble before reaching canyon's end.  The canyons seemed to go forever.
Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon
     OK all you geezers.  Who remembers "Twenty-Mule-Team Borax?"  Death Valley is the home of Borax, a cleaning agent (among other things), as it was mined here and then was hauled out of the valley using a 20-mule team.  The poor beasts had to haul 2 large wagons of Borax as well as sufficient water to quench their thirst along their 160 mile journey out of the valley.  The total weight of this haul was approximately 36 tons. Holy Hee-Haw!
This is the wagon train hauled by the "Twenty-Mule-Team."
The 1st 2 wagons contain "Borax" and the last tank
contains drinking water.


     To view a map of our 2016 travels, open the link below:


  1. Absolutely stunning landscape shots and the beautiful details of flowers and desert floor too- but... old geezers? I still use borax for cleaning!

  2. A great blog and splendid photos! It brings back some wonderful memories. We agree with all your enthusiastic comments about this amazing place.


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