We have wanted to make this trip for several years. Just been too busy with retirement and traveling. Our plan was to leave on Superbowl Sunday and miss the traffic. I looked at the weather report and saw high winds, decided to wait two days and miss the wind. We got up early and were driving by 7:30 AM. It is a long way from Stockton to Death Valley in the winter as Tioga Pass is closed for the winter.
We head up Hwy 58 and climbed out of the valley.
Drove through some areas we have not been to. The town of Trona looked like it was deserted with most of the town empty and buildings boarded up. Only the factory had signs of life. I looked when we got home and found most of the employees drive from Ridgecrest. Almost 8 hours later we arrived at Furnace Creek. We walked into the Visitors Center and the lights were out. Asked why and were told the winds on Sunday had knocked the power out. Some areas were running on generators. We have always tried to eat at the National Park lodges when we visit. We had reservations at the Death Valley Inn and drove over to find they did not have power from the generators. No dinner for us at the Inn. We were told the Ranch at Furnace Creek had a generator and were serving dinner.
The post below is from the Death Valley NP website. I almost feel sorry for the guests paying $400+ per night and being given a glow stick.
Got to the Ranch at Furnace Creek and they were open but were told we needed reservations. Said we had reservations at the Inn but they were closed. The host pulled out the reservation list from the Inn and asked our names. Both restaurants owned by the same company and we were good for dinner. Both of us had a great meal after a long day.
Our campsite for the next two nights.
We settled in and made out plans for the next day. Just a little breeze until after sunset when the wind picked up to 40+ mph gusts. The camper was rocking until way after midnight.
We had a beautiful sunrise to start our first full day.
I decided to follow a suggestion from a friend on WanderTheWest.com. Take it easy and enjoy the park, don't try to cram too much into the day. After breakfast, we were off to Badwater the lowest spot in the park.
We walked out about a mile into the dry lake where the salt turned to a smooth white. Did pass a spaceman with his friend taking pictures. I am sure there was a story about this.
No wind and just a fine day to walk, temp in the mid 60's.
Leaving Badwater we were off to Artist Palette. A nice one-way loop, smooth pavement twisting and lots of ups and downs. It made me wish I had my Ducati here.
After Artist Pallet, we drove on and saw lots of cars at Golden Canyon. Pulled in and decided to take the hike.
Interesting to me that this was an asphalt paved road many years ago. Time, wind and a little rain have removed most of the asphalt.
Long walk up the canyon, it felt shorter as we returned downhill. Also, time for lunch when we got back. Nice to have the camper and everything we need for lunch. After lunch, we drive to Zabriskie Point and start our climb out of the valley.
The views at Zabriskie point were fantastic. My pictures do not do them justice.
Next, we drive higher to Dante's View and overlook all of the Valley. Badwater is just below Dante's View and we can see where we walked this morning.
It was very windy at Dante's View and cold.
We had two Crows or Ravens soring in the wind in front of where we parked. They put on quite a show.
We have had a full day and it was time to head back to camp. The gas station at Furnace Creek was still closed. Tomorrow we will drive Titus Canyon that has been on my bucket list for a few years.
Sunset as we arrive back at our camp.
We both enjoyed a good night's sleep after a full day of walking. Today we will be driving more than walking. First, we are off to Beatty NV. for gas before we drive Titus Canyon Road. The road starts in Nevada before entering Death Valley NP. The sign advised allowing 3 hours for the 27-mile drive. The first 7 miles were bad washboard and had to stay below 10 MPH even though the road was straight. When we started climbing the road delivered with great views. Dropping into the canyon you could see Leadfield far below.
Video of our drive.
Climbing up to the top.
Around this corner, we drop into the Titus Canyon.
Leadfield, interesting story. The product of extensive and fraudulent advertising by the Western Lead Mine Company and C.C. Julian, the town boomed in 1925. His advertising posters showed steamboats navigating the Amargosa River to Leadfield, ignoring the fact that the Amargosa River is dry much of the time and does not run within 20 miles of Leadfield. Historic photographs show some frame and corrugated metal buildings and there is evidence of a few dugouts, but the majority of the denizens of Leadfield lived in tents of varying sizes and construction. The population peaked at around 300 in 1926, with a post office opening in August of that year. However, by February 1927, the post office closed down and the town died. Just a get rich scheme gone bad.
After Leadfield we enter the high walled area of Titus Canyon. It is amazing to see how the walls were carved by water. Many of the rock walls were polished smooth. As we approached the end we were surprised to see hikers coming up the canyon. If we do Death Valley again we will do the hike up the lower canyon.
After leaving Titus Canyon we stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. This is a Google photo as we did not get a picture. The sand was as soft as wheat flour in your hand. I have never seen sand this fine. Must have been a bad place to be when the wind was up last Sunday.
Next up our hike for the day, Mosaic Canyon. This was a recommendation from several people and it did not disappoint.
A wide gravel stream bed quickly turns to rock and polished marble slot canyon. A lot of beauty in a short hike. We just did the lower canyon and could not have been more than a 1/2 mile up and a 1/2 mile back.
We had planned to stay at Stovepipe Wells campground tonight. We visited with some campers in the parking lot. They said they enjoyed the Lone Pine campground. It was early and staying by Lone Pine would make tomorrow's drive home much shorter. So off to Lone Pine, we go. We had stayed at Alabama Hills and Veronica saw Turtle Creek campground on her All Stays phone app. We were surprised with a temp of 73 degrees when we got to Lone Pine. Turtle Creek is a BLM campground and only $2.50 with our senior pass. We camped close to Turtle Creek and could hear the creek all night. Very few campers this time of the year.
Another fine night's sleep and we decided to have breakfast in Lone Pine. Veronica checked her phone and said the Alamaba Hills Cafe and Bakery sounded good. Small local place with great food, if you are in the area give it a try.
We split the morning special of Ham and Eggs. Don't think I could eat it all by myself.
After breakfast, we headed north on Hwy 395. The east side of the Sierra Nevada is a special place with great views. I was disappointed there was not more snow on the peaks and very little around the highway by Mammoth.
By the time we got to the Carson Spur on Hwy 88, we felt like we were almost home. Not much snow for this area. At 6,000 feet there was bare ground. At 5,000 feet no snow.