Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Death Valley National Park

From the lights and noise of Las Vegas, we headed to the silence and darkness of Death Valley National Park. 
 This is the view from Dante's View - very worth the 13 mile drive.  This picture doesn't do it justice.
 The salt flats seen in the picture above are more than 200 feet below sea level and are one of the hottest places on earth in the summer.
From Dante's View at 5,475 feet (windy and in the 60's), we headed to the Visitor Center then to Badwater Basin.  It was 98 and blissfully dry at the visitor center.  I thought it felt great!

We headed on down from there to Badwater Basin, which is -282 feet below sea level (the GPS is either confused, or the parking area was higher).  In the summer, it's too hot to go out on the Salt Flats, but the clouds made an appearance while we were there,

 The clouds broke up as we headed back to our room at the Furnace Creek Ranch.

 We grilled steaks for our dinner, then after dark went to look at the stars.  The clouds had disappeared and it was a beautiful night.  It's so quiet there that I could hear nothing but my ears ringing, not even a bird singing.  As we sat in the silent dark, David heard something's toenails tapping on the pavement near us.  He turned his flashlight to see a coyote about 25 feet from us.  It watched us and we watched it.  We didn't even try to get a picture, but it was one of the coolest things we saw on our trip!

The next day, we looked around at the outdoor Borax museum at Furnace Creek Ranch, and made a few more stops around the park.  The Scotty's Castle area had gone to summer hours and was closed while we were there, so we'll have to do that next time.

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