A couple weeks ago my buddy and I decided to venture two hours from Las Vegas to Death Valley. Known as the home of the hottest recorded temperature (134°F on July 10, 1913), Death Valley encompasses nearly 3.4 million acres. It is considered to be the hottest and driest place in North America, so during our visit in mid-April we were pleasantly surprised that the temperature was a comfortable 97°F (haha).
Driving there, we didn’t have a specific itinerary. The only thing we knew was that we wanted to take some sunset shots at Badwater Basin and check out the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. After nearly 10 hours at the park and driving back and fourth, we ended up visiting Badwater Basin, Artist Palette, Devils Golf Course, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Mosaic Canyon. This was just a small sample of what the park has to offer and we will certainly be back to explore the other sites in and around Death Valley National Park.
Badwater Basin-This was considered to be the lowest elevation (282 ft below sea level) until the discovery of Laguna del Carbon in Argentina (344 ft below sea level). From Furnace Creek, travel south approximately 15 miles and the Badwater Basin parking lot will be on your right hand side. Parking is quite abundant and there are also restrooms.
Artists Palette-Located between Furnace Creek and Badwater Basin. To get to Artists Palette, you need to turn off the main road onto one way Artists Drive. This is approximately a six mile loop that leads back to the main road. The colors of the Artists Palette are exactly that..a palette. Amazing colors!
Devils Golf Course-Located approximately 10 miles south of Furnace Creek. In order to get to Devils Golf Course you will need to turn off onto an unpaved road for approximately a mile. There is a small gravel parking lot and the Devils Golf Course is literally at your feet. The terrain reminds me of exposed coral reef. Very sharp and firm. I highly recommend wearing shoes. Looking out into the DGC, I spotted a few people way out there. I couldn’t understand why in the world they would walk so far out. It is quite dangerous and one slip will almost guarantee a cut or gash. After returning home and doing a little research did I realize that there were hidden salt/saline pools at the Devils Golf Course. I would assume that’s why those people were so far out there.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes-The Dunes are located approximately 20 miles north of Furnace Creek. My buddy and I walked quite a ways in to try to find some untouched sand (which proved to be quite difficult). After realizing that I wasn’t going to get a decent wide angle shot, I started to focus on the different textures and patterns of sand.
Mosaic Canyon-The canyon is located about a mile west of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. This was by far the roughest unpaved road we had been on throughout the whole day. Although a high clearance vehicle is not necessary it is highly recommended. We did see a bunch of cars in the parking lot however. We walked about a mile into the canyon and made our way back to the car to try to catch the sunset back at Badwater Basin.
There is so much more to discover and explore in Death Valley. The one place on my bucket list is the Racetrack Playa. However, after doing some research I realize that this would take a lot longer than expected. The unpaved road is quite rough and traveling from Furnace Creek to the Racetrack (83 miles) would take approximately three hours.