Our road trip from California to Utah had started well. We spent the first night in Mojave, California, and then visited Manzanar National Historic Site. After that it was time to head to Death Valley which is right on the border of California and Nevada. We visited Death Valley for the first time, even though we had been planning to go there many times already. The drive from our house to Death Valley National Park is only seven hours, and somehow we still had not been there. But now it was time to see this famous place with our own eyes!
Death Valley is a desert valley close to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It got its name during the Gold Rush when many gold miners and others were passing through never made it out of the valley. Summer temperatures in the valley are brutal and during the winter nights there might be frost. Death Valley became the hottest spot on earth when they measured record temperatures there in 1913, +56,7 C (134 F). Wow! The normal temperatures during the summer months are usually around 50C (122 F). So I would really consider whether I would want to visit Death Valley during summer. Sometimes winter rains cause flooding in the valley, and last year for example, two people died due to flooding. In many ways, the conditions in Death Valley are challenging. It is also the lowest point of the United States. At its lowest, Death Valley is 86 metres (282 feet) below sea level. It was added to the National Parks System in 1994.
Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy Death Valley for very long since our visit to Manzanar took so much time, and we had to drive to Las Vegas that night. It would have been great to explore more and go hiking, but we mainly stayed on the main road. I would have liked to see at least Devil’s Golf Course, Bad Water Basin salt flats and the Racetrack, where rocks mysteriously move around over night. Even though I feel like I have seen enough deserts for a while now, someday I would like to return to Death Vally and maybe camp in the area. In recent years they have also experienced a rare super bloom in Death Valley due to plentiful spring rains. Desert flowers have been blooming like never before. In that sense the spring time sounds like the best time to visit the valley.
We visited Furnace Creek which is the deepest spot of Death Valley. We also saw Mesquite Flat’s sand dunes which seemed to draw a lot of people. Even on the main road of the valley there were things to see and we stopped a few times to take photos. Furnace Creek visitor center had an interesting exhibit about desert animals and plants which is worth a visit.
We can now check Death Valley off from our bucket list even though we felt like we were too rushed on our visit. For those planning on a trip there, I would definitely plan to stay the night somewhere and leave some time for exploring the area. When darkness hit Death Valley, we headed to Las Vegas and on to new adventures. So stay tuned for that!