Last week we spent a day driving through Death Valley National Park.
We left the 5th wheel and truck parked at the Walmart in Pahrump, NV, and took the van through the park. It’s a big park.
We drove in through Death Valley Junction from Pahrump. We left with enough fuel to last the day, and that is one tip that I would highly recommend for anyone driving the park – it’s a big park (like I said…), and while there is fuel at Stovepipe Wells, it is about $1.50 more per gallon than if you just fill up before leaving wherever it is you’re leaving from…
There are actually quite a few accomodations if you would like to stay overnight in the park. And, there are also 12 campgrounds (some seasonal), from inexpensive NPS campgrounds without hookups (free to $12-18/night) to more pricey (up to $30-32/night) consessionare campgrounds that have 50 amp full hookups.
Our first stop was at Furnace Creek. There is a visitor’s center there, and we stopped to pick up Jr. Ranger booklets. This is the view from the visitor’s center, looking towards the campground…
In retrospect, I wish that we would have camped in the park – There are a lot of fun ranger-led programs that Death Valley offers – and while it didn’t work out that we got to attend any of them, the ones that I most wanted to go to were campfire talks offered on Sun. and Thurs. nights in the campground (not sure if which nights they are located in the campground changes…) – there is a talk offered every night at 7, but I thought it would be most fun to walk from the rv right to the fire ring. We would have loved to have been able to attend some of the programs, most especially the ones on Tarantulas, Incredible Animals of the Desert, 1848 and Beyond, What Howls in the Night, or maybe Flintknapping or Stone Tool Making…
As we drove through the park from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley looked much like I expected it to… We stopped at the little General Store in Stovepipe Wells, and found a great bumper sticker for the back of the toy hauler!
We decided that one of the main attractions of Death Valley, Scotty’s Castle, was too far of a drive (besides, who wants to pay for a tour of a house, at least for 12 people, no matter how cool it is), so we drove back down the road a mile or two to stop at the… sand dunes. There is a parking lot there for visitors, and you just wander out in the valley to the dunes – it’s just a little bitty walk.
We found all sorts of animal tracks in the sand, from kangaroo rats to lizards and birds. The kids took their shoes off and ran.
Even Caleb got sand between his little toes… compliments of Molly… My girls… (well, a couple of them 😉 Peanut was the one that most wanted to play in the sand… and enjoyed it the most… She really gets into stuff like this… (and takes plenty of it home with her…)
And while we weren’t done in the park, we did turn in our Jr. Ranger booklets on our way south in case we weren’t back through Furnace Creek before the visitor’s center closed.
The mountains across from the ‘golf course’… Then on to Badwater Basin. These are the salt crystals that cover acres of ground… It was windy and chilly while we were there, so I stayed in the van with Caleb while Vaughn and the kids walked out into the basin. You walk out as far as you would like, until you come to an area where it seems that no-one else has touched (walked on) the salt crystals, and you can break off pieces to try them. The kids thought that was pretty neat that they could eat the salt – so much so that I wondered if any of them would get salt poisoning.
Molly thought that eating the salt was so cool that after they all loaded back up in the van, I turned to ask her about it and found her licking the bottom of her shoe!!! LOL! and.Yuck!!! I thought that Death Valley would be a bummer of a place to visit, but it ended up being pretty neat, the kids earned another badge for their vests, and we picked up a very cool bumper sticker for the back of the toy hauler.
And while our first visit (this trip) to Nevada started on a good note, I still have a hard time getting used to the fact that EVERY store here has gaming machines in their entrances. I stopped at CVS to pick up some candy for the kids’ stockings, and they had a foyer full of gambling machines. Wierd. ~tho those machines will save us some money while we stay here – I can’t stand them, (and have a great urge to tell those lounging at them to go out and get a life!) and I am certainly less likely to shop at those stores. Since they are in nearly every shop, guess I’m not shopping much!
(- which must be holding true since we are having hot dogs tonight and we can’t even have a campfire in the park…they were all that was in the freezer, and I still don’t have any desire to head to the store. LOL! 😉