Lose Yourself In Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the nation besides Alaska boasting more than 3 million acres of federally protected land areas of wilderness, sand dunes, canyons, salt flats, and mountains. This is a lot of adventurous territory to explore, scramble, and trek through. With so many must see spots and interesting history, how can one pass up the opportunity to see this place! And on top of that, you can even take a tour of the locations where Star Wars was filmed!

Although, it is considered the hottest place on earth, it does have an average temperature of 100 degrees Farenheight in the Summer, Death Valley still is an incredible place to experience. As well, the other seasons especially Fall, can provide perfect weather conditions for an extraordinary adventure. Whether it is hiking through colorful canyons, scrambling over through badlands, or witnessing unobstructed views of ridges and valleys, this place will not disappoint.

fitlifeandtravel.com

“An adventure in the middle of the desert in Death Valley, California?” you might ask. My response is yes! This national park is spectacular to wander around and soak in the amazing fresh air, enjoy colorful rolling hills and mountains that surround you. We were once again pleasantly surprised of what this national park has to offer and all the adventure opportunities it has.

fitlifeandtravel.com

We started our day by hitting the road very early in the morning from San Diego and as usual we prepared for our road trip adventure by packing lunch, water, and serviced the car. Here is my vehicle prep blog I wrote earlier this year if you need a guide: Road trip preparation tips.

Since we knew this adventure would only be primarily a day trip, we took the route by going north via State Route 127 from Baker to Shoshone and Death Valley Junction with connections to the park on State Route 178 from Shoshone and connection with California Highway 190 at Death Valley Junction. 

fitlifeandtravel.com

We finally arrived at the park and began our journey exploring around the area. Depending upon the amount of time you have to visit the park, there are so many interesting and historical places to see. Including the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek where there is an incredible video-movie they offer that portrays several historical and interesting insights into Death Valley.

One of the interesting topics discussed in the movie is that in a particular part of the park, there are several large rocks sitting in the bed of a dry lake and over time, they move and leave a trail in the sand. Scientists are baffled as to how these rocks are moving. The area is called Racetrack Playa, and the mystery continues about these rocks also called ‘Sailing stones’ and their intriguing movement across the desert. Read more about this topic here:  

Badwater Basin:
This area of the park is truly remarkable in that it is the lowest point in North America at 182 feet below sea level! And the salt flats are amazing! The feeling of a cool twist in the air, with the warming sun, and the ‘extra’ oxygen intake can make you feel like a million bucks! 

Artists Drive:
This scenic drive is spectacular and is a one way drive-through loop that takes you 9 miles between multi colored rolling hills that will have you saying wow!

Artists Palette:
This area is just a short distance from along Artists Drive and is the point where there is a look out and you can walk out onto some of the hills and take photos and explore the area.

Zabriskie Point:

Badlands and rolling hills painted with golden and reddish hues everywhere you turn. An area that is a result of once highly active earthquakes and violent waters, this serene setting was submerged under water as it was filled with sparkling lakes.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes:

Rising nearly 100 feet from the Mesquite Flats, these beautiful sand dunes will have you thirsty for curiosity! The dunes are incredible to explore, hike, trek, and climb! We climbed and climbed as the sand was filling our shoes. But we finally made our way up and over the dunes, and saw a few folks with cameras and what appeared to be a photo shoot for a bridal wedding scene. Just in time for a stunning desert sunset over the dunes.

Death Valley carries a lot of history and is still home to the Shoshone Indians. These are a few highlights you may wish to explore as well:

-Scotty’s Castle *A glance into the times during the Roaring 20’s and Great 
            Depression of the 30’s. (Temporarily closed at this time.-Nov 2018)
-Furnace Creek Inn *Opened in 1927 by the Pacific Coast Borax Mining Co.

-Harmony Borax Works *A mine that processed borax ore from 1884 to 1888
-Keane Wonder Mine *Historical gold mine
-Death Valley ghost towns and silent ruins  
-Wild Rose Charcoal Kilns *Beehive shaped structures that helped process
           silver/lead ore built in 1877.
-Barker Ranch *Once the ranch was a sanctuary for recreational ranchers. Also in 1968; it was occupied by the infamous Mansion family for about a year before it was raided and the family members were jailed as a result of their vandalism to the property.

We had an amazing day at Death Valley National Park as it was full of interesting exploration over badlands and salt basin, painted hillsides along Artists Drive, and an exciting drive through narrow roadways of steep and curvy pathways. We plan to return for another visit to this park in 2019. 

We were also on the lookout for wild donkeys. There are invasive burros throughout Death Valley. They are destroying water resources for other animals, stomp around and mess the fragile spring habitat. It is suggested that you do not feed them, do not approach them or exit your vehicle. 
We finished our incredible adventure at the park by taking Panamint Valley Road to Trona Road and went through the mineral mining town of Trona. Finally reaching US-395 to I-15 South returning home to San Diego.

More information on Death Valley National Park:  DIRECTIONS

Death Valley National Park
PO Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328
760-786-3200
www.nps.gove/deva   

Other information:
Off road driving is strictly prohibited!
Camping is available.
Cabins/lodging is available:
         The Oasis at Death Valley, Panamint Springs Resort
The park is a great place to ride bicycle.
Pets, other than service animals, are not allowed in certain areas of the park. Check the website for more specific information before you go.

Like it, Pin it!

Find more adventure and take a journey with me through Capitol Reef National Park.

fitlifeandtravel.com

Sources:
Death Valley brochure.
Wikipedia.com

Advertisements

Pinnacles National Park * The People’s Park

Pinnacles National Park is the final national park we’ve visited over a three-day weekend on our quest to visit three national parks in three days. The previous 2 days were filled with impressive historical sequoia trees, beautiful landscapes, and stunning sunsets! Read about it here:  For every new national park we visit, we have a new found appreciation and desire to explore more parks, landmarks, and nature.

Machete Ridge

Background:

Pinnacles is an interesting park in that it is actually part of the San Andreas Fault Zone (running east of the park). Did you know? San Andreas Fault system is part of the Ring of Fire; a zone of earthquake and volcanic activity that partially encircles the Pacific Ocean. The park is a result of a combination of heat, frost, water, and wind wearing away rock. The caves are also a result of fault action and earthquake activity created by boulders falling into deep, narrow gorges and getting stuck between the rock walls.

Fitlifeandtravel.com

The People’s Park:

During the 1700s, the Pinnacles’ Native Americans; the Chalon and Mutsun Indians, were hunter-gatherers and harvested on the local resources. Later, when emigrants arrived, Pinnacles became a popular place for activities, picnics, camping, and exploring.

Hiking Adventure:

Juniper Canyon Trail, Tunnel Trail, High Peaks Trail, Condor Gulch Trail, Old Pinnacles Trail, Balconies Cave Trail.

We hit the road toward Pinnacles around 9:00 a.m. after meeting up with friend and Fitlife360 guest blogger, Sam, at our hotel in Salinas. Sam was also traveling and exploring Santa Cruz and Monterey areas over the weekend and shared with us her interesting trip. She departed San Diego Thursday night drove directly through the areas where the large massive fires were near Los Angeles/Ventura. She was directed towards several detours around those flames until she finally made it to her destination in Santa Cruz.

We continued our way south on highway 101 from our hotel and onward into the Pinnacles National Park, which is about 45 minutes from our hotel in Salinas, California. We arrived at the park entrance and used the restrooms and enjoyed a chat with the park ranger. We had formulated our plan and map drawn out to explore Bear Gulch Cave, Balconies Cave, and see Condors. Things did not go the way we planned exactly, but we still had an amazing and very cool experience.

We began hiking from the Chaparral Parking Area and continued on the Juniper Canyon Trail. As we were approaching the Tunnel Trail, it was becoming a bit challenging with gradual inclines and switchbacks. It was only a short while into the trail, when we looked up and saw two large condors flying near one of the mountain peaks. This part of the trail was very interesting with the beautiful large boulders and rock formations, where some of them had splashes of colors on the boulders and rock formations.

Some of the trails connect with each other and can be difficult choosing which path to take. We had intentions of taking the trail that leads to Bear Gulch Cave Trail, (to explore Bear Gulch Cave) this is where we chose the wrong trail path and ended up at the Overlook on the Condor Gulch Trail. (We only saw Condors earlier on the hiking trail).

We continued on a decline trail of switchbacks and narrow paths towards Old Pinnacles Trailhead Parking lot area. We sat around for awhile and rested in this area for a short while. We decided to continue on this trail where it took us through a tree filled hillside, some areas had a canopy of trees, then we approached an area of an open dried up creek bed. (West Fork Chalone Creek) This is where we encountered a wild bobcat roaming around. My husband grabbed the Nikon and took off toward the bobcat. He captured our bobcat friend and he said it was like the cat was sitting there posing for him.

Shortly after our wild animal encounter with the bobcat, we proceeded to make our way towards Balconies Cave. The journey through the cave is very cool with the darkness, quiet and silent inside the cave, and the thrill of finding your way out to the other side of the cave. Check out the video of the cave adventure:

The journey through Pinnacles National Park was amazing! Despite the past couple days of experiencing smoke filled hazy skies, it was a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine.

By the end of our day exploring, we had hiked about 11 miles, scrambling over rocks in Balconies Cave, and enjoyed a backdrop of massive boulders and stunning landscape views. Here are the many activities you do at Pinnacles.

*Hiking
*Explore Caves
*Rock Climbing
*Enjoy Plants and Trees
*Birds-Condors and Bats

Here is more information to plan your visit:

Pinnacles National Park
5000 Hwy 146
Paicines, CA 95043
8310389-4485
http://www.nps.gov/pinn
DIRECTIONS TO THE PARK

Like it, Pin It.
See more national park adventures here.