We part ways with our friend Patty today, she is heading off to visit a relative and Karen and I are going to visit Death Valley National Park. We will meet back up with Patty on Monday afternoon.
As we left Visalia heading towards Death Valley, we passed, what I would estimate to be 1000 or more wind turbines. They stretched to the horizon and beyond.
Between the town of Mojave California and Death Valley National Park, the drive was fantastic, the scenery beautiful. It reminded me of the Loneliest Road in America that we drove on last summer, not a car to be seen in either direction.
Death Valley turned out to be nothing at all like what I was expecting. I was expecting a desert like scene, flat, never ending, mile after mile of nothing but pavement and sand. It turned out to be the most wonderful and colourful scenery that we have seen since we were in the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National Park 2 summers ago.
Even the welcome sign to Death Valley National Park is the most colourful National Park sign that we have seen so far.
You enter Death Valley at an altitude of about 3000 feet and drop down to the valley floor. We wondered where all the cars had suddenly come from, because for the last 40 miles we barely saw a car and suddenly as we dropped down to the floor of the valley, there were more cars than we had seen all day.
Death Valley National Park is the hottest and driest of all the National Parks. The highest ever recorded temperature in the park was back on July 10 1913. It was 134 F that day.
This is a pretty neat sign. We have been at “sea level” several times on our vacations, standing on the ocean beaches in California, Texas, Alaska and Florida, but never had we been below sea level.. Unless you include the semi-submersible excursion we went on..below the surface of the ocean. So lets just say that we have never walked or driven below sea level before.
The lowest reading we saw on our GPS was 277 feet Below Sea Level. There is one spot in the park that is 282 below sea level. That spot is the lowest point in the USA. To think that a few days ago we were in Sequoia National Park and saw Mount Whitney which is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and now we are at the lowest point in the USA. How cool is that ? Speaking of cool… it is not very cool according to this thermometer. This is the thermometer at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. That is the temperature in the shade, step out into the sun and it is hot hot hot. Not a sweltering humid hot heat like back home, but a dry heat with a gentle breeze, actually it wasn’t too bad to be out of the air conditioning of the car for short periods of time. We bought some souvenirs and checked in with the Park Ranger and showed him our park pass, got our National Park Passport Book stamped and were on our way again.
After leaving Stovepipe Wells, we drove across the valley floor, saw some sand dunes in the distance.
Miles of straight pavement heading eastward. This is what we were expecting the whole of Death Valley to be like, road and desert.
With the occasional bend in the road.
But then we pulled into Furnace Creek Visitor Center and things started getting really interesting. The landscape was changing dramatically.
This is the part of Death Valley that reminded us of the Painted Desert in Arizona. The colours in the land and rocks were amazing to see for a place with the name of Death Valley. The colours seem to add life to this place, it doesn’t look at all dead.
It is interesting how the road just follows the contours of the land, no effort was made to make it a completely flat smooth road surface.
More colourful and oddly shaped landscape.
We and the car made it through Death Valley and came out the other side alive and well. As we say goodbye to Death Valley National Park, we know that we will return some year in the not too distant future. This is a National Park that we would like to visit again and explore in more detail. The whole purpose of this vacation is to give us a taste of as many of the National Parks as we can, and then we can decide which ones we would like to come back to revisit and spend more time at.
From DVNP we head to our hotel in Barstow CA, but first we have to make one stop. To see the “World’s Tallest Thermometer”. The thermometer is located in Baker CA. It stands at 134 feet tall, a reference to the hottest temperature ever recorded in nearby Death Valley.
It could very well be the world’s tallest, but I also rank it as the world’s most inaccurate… Although the neon/electronic style digital readout does not show up in the photos… it is saying that it is 70 degrees. Not likely. It should be reading higher than that. They better get a technician out here and get this thing fixed.
Tomorrow we are going to visit the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum in Barstow CA. Then we are heading to Joshua Tree National Park for the afternoon.
To see all of our photos from today, you can see them on my FLICKR site.