Wandering West, Day 8, Thursday, July 1, 2021
You know, people say the heat in the Southwest is a “dry heat”. Well, dry heat or not, it’s just plain HOT!!
Today we took a day trip from Nevada to California to see Death Valley National Park. It’s a place that is truly hard to describe. The landscape is completely desolate. There are mountains rising to the sky with miles and miles of empty desert below. We stepped out of our trucks at Furnace Creek Visitor Center and were hit with a wall of heat. Its name, Furnace Creek, is an accurate description and this is the place where the hottest recorded temperature on planet earth was recorded in 1913 getting to 134.1 degrees Fahrenheit! Last week it was just a few degrees shy of that, getting to 128 degrees. Today we were lucky, it only got to 115 degrees according to our trucks.
DVNP is about an hour and a half drive from Las Vegas. The drive itself was a sight to see. I can’t say beautiful because how can utter desolation be beautiful. But, it was most definitely a reminder of how awe inspiring our God is. He made the beautiful, lush forest lands that we live in back home and then these barren lands we are looking at today.
We started our day at the visitor’s center to get some national park swag and to glean some knowledge from the park rangers. They gave us some tips on what we should see in our short time there. So, off we went to check out the number one attraction, Badwater Basin. It is a massive salt flat in the middle of the park that is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Let me tell you, there was no hiking to be done in this park. We walked out onto the salt flat but very quickly several members of our party decided they were done with the heat and went back to the comfort of the air-conditioned vehicles. I had to walk a little further though to see the salt crystals forming in the basin and I’ll admit, I even tasted a bit of the salt.
The park rangers told us four places we should go check out, Badwater Basin, Artist Pointe Drive, Zabriskie Point, and Dante’s View. We made it to two! We finished at Badwater Basin then went on to do the Artist Pointe Drive which was an 8-mile drive through a section of the park. The views were very cool and thank goodness we were staying in the trucks. The next stop was supposed to be Zabriskie Point but when we got there and saw that it was a quarter mile walk, straight uphill, in the blazing heat, to a lookout, everyone in our group said, nah…we’re good. So, at that point, we decided we had seen enough of Death Valley and headed back to camp.
We’ve all spent the rest of the day doing some shopping, re-stocking our groceries, finishing up laundry, and getting loaded for the next leg of our trip….YOSEMITE!!