Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Drive to Death Valley National Park!

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning with temperatures around 48 degrees. After a good breakfast and loading the CRV with our lunches, snacks, hiking poles, etc. the 4 of us were on our way to Death Valley National Park.  Ernie left us know that if he had a "Bucket List" this park would be on it!  So glad we were able to make that dream come true!

We get to enjoy another National Park!

It was about a 60 mile drive that took about 1 1/4 hours and it felt like you were in the middle of "nowhere".  Death Valley has an average yearly rainfall of 2.36 inches, but on October 18, 2015, they had 2.7 inches in 5 1/2 hours.  The dry wash area was transformed into floodwaters 100 feet wide with 20 foot waves. The devastation was major! Over 500 miles of roads in the park were closed because of flood damage.  But, there was a positive to this flood - the superbloom of 2016 which was a once in a decade event.  A massive quantity of wildflowers blooming everywhere!  A worker here in the park showed us photos on her phone of the flowers blooming on all the ranges in the park.  It was almost unbelievable!  There were gorgeous, colorful flowers everywhere! It would have been magnificent!

Our 1st stop was at Zabriskie Point where you walk up to an observation area to look out over the unusual landscape. Here are photos from the top -

From Zabriskie Point parking lot we took the 2.7 mile Badlands Loop Hike that took us in an up and down circular path through the Badlands.  We spent some of the hike in the very dry "stream bed" where water rarely flows.  I bet it was amazing in 2015!  It was a very interesting hike!

The very beginning of the hike!

It was unique terrain!

.....and now we climb!

Ernie and Noela after the climb!

Now we need to go down!

....and maybe up again!

Where is the trail????

This is the only vegetation we saw on this trail - Desert Holly!

From there we drove to the Visitors Center to get some information and for Noela to buy a cap.  We stopped at a nearby picnic area and enjoyed our packed lunches.  

Passed this sign on the way to the Visitors Center!

It was a warm day, but not as hot as when we were here
with Chuck and Melissa in May of 2015.  Then it was 115 degrees!

Then we went to the 20 mule team Borax museum where they have lots of old equipment and memorabilia from the Borax mining days.  It is very interesting and hard to imagine how difficult life must have been during that time!  Do you remember the commercials advertising 20 mule team Borax???  Ronald Reagan was the "star" in some of those commercials!

We drove to Devil's Golf Course where crystallized salt compose the jagged formations of this landscape.  Deposited by ancient salt lakes and shaped by winds and rains, they are forever changing! You certainly wouldn't want to trip and fall in this area for the formations are sharp like razors! 

Ken and my 1st sighting of a coyote!

Crystallized salt everywhere!

Next we traveled to Badwater Basin which is the location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below sea level!  There you get to walk on the salt pond.

The scenery on the way to Badwater Basin!

Like the shirt, Ken!

Walking on the salt pond!

On the way back to the main road we drove on the dirt loop through Artists Palette to see the multi-colored formations.  The colors are amazing and so unusual.  

This really doesn't do justice to the amazing colors!

What a drive!

This shows the many colors!

We thought it was time to head back to the CG but Ken and Ernie decided to take a detour on the rough and dirt road through the 20 Mule Team Canyon - a rough but interesting drive.

Where are we going now????

Quite a road!

We took some beautiful photos on the way back to the CG of the dusk sky arriving at the CG around 6:15.  It was a "full" day but extremely interesting!

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