Friday, June 29, 2012

To Death Valley

I made it, at 282ft below sea level, Death Valley!

I have always wanted to go to Death Valley since my very first visit to America in '95. Someone mentioning something like 45 degrees C in the shade sounded cool to me so it was one of my highest priorities for this trip. Doing as I do, I looked at a map and said that's where were are going, heading from Yosemite National Park across the famous Tioga Pass, to heights of 3,000m+.
Alpine Wonderland
Good driving
Was a cool plan, but it was still only spring and of course the road wasn't opening for a few more days due to snow. Meant the 2 hour drive to Death Valley turned into a full days driving 400 miles round over the nearest open pass. Did seem like a bit of a drag but it turned in to one of my favorite days. We left the lush forests of Yosemite transgressing into a snow covered alpine landscape then doping back down into the desserts East of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The driving way amazing. I think Americans must be scared of these twisting, curving and winding roads, maybe they prefer sticking to their super-duper-mega-highways. This was just a stunning example of a beautiful open road, the sorta place that TopGear would be doing car reviews and there we no other cars in sight either. Wish I could have had a Viper or Mustang, but the Crown Vic held its own!

East of the Sierra Nevadas

Lone Pine Campground
That night we stayed at my favourite campground, a small town site up in the hill behind Lone Pine Indian Reservation. A famous spot for western cinema with orange rocky summits, strange outcrops and actual tumble weeds surly featuring in almost every western film. Who knows maybe we might be attacked by Indians or held-up by Cowboys on the run while in town!

With plans to get to Las Vegas to reunite Amy with her sister by early afternoon, we made a early start, 6.30am. A good idea considering we were heading into one of the hottest places on Earth. The day lived up to all my expectations and was certainly worth the journey. The heat was already building, perfect I thought for our journey down into the Valley system to the lowest point in the US, at 282ft below sea level! Some amazing geology and geography was on display here, some random patches of sand dunes, rocks of unimaginable colourations, and vast salt flats. There was a few remains of human history in the area from past mining attempts, not many people about and even less wildlife and plants. And it was hot, I would have had it hotter, but none the less the most amazing dry heat I have ever experienced.
Skateboarding in Death Valley

Artists Point, Death Valley


  1. Sounds just amazing. What a great experience.

  2. I always wanted to go to Death Valley. We got as far as Palm Springs but it was too far to go on to Death Valley when we were in the US