For Jeb’s spring break we decided to go on a California National Park road trip. The first stop on our trip was at Death Valley National Park.
We arrived pretty late and camped at the Furnace Creek Campground. The campground is almost 200 feet below sea level. It was pretty crazy for us to be this low since it is very rare nowadays that we ever even go below elevations of 5,000 feet.
The first place we went to at Death Valley was Zabriskie Point. We hit it just right that day with weather, a blue sky sunny day with the perfect amount of clouds for pictures!
We decided to do an 8 mile hike that goes down into the badland formations. By visiting death valley in March we were lucky because it only got up to 82 degrees that day. As people that live in Colorado and spend a lot of time at high elevations, we would have really struggled doing this hike in the middle of summer when it could have been 120 degrees!
I think people have a really inaccurate impression in their heads of Death Valley. I think people have this image of it just being this hot, low, wasteland. This could not be further from the truth. Yes, it does get hot, but it is also really beautiful. We were surprised by how much variety there was there with things to see and different types of terrain.
Jeb headed down into the wash. Even on a nice day of mild temperatures, once we got about a quarter of a mile from the car we really didn’t encounter very many people at all.
This hike is neat because it starts up at Zabriskie Point at one parking lot, and hikes through the wash, over the badlands, and ends up on the other side near the salt flats and at the other parking lot. It takes over an hour to drive from the one parking lot to the other because there is no road that goes across through here.
Overall the hike wasn’t super hard but we did got up some REALLY steep and a little bit loose sections on the trail.
The next place we headed to was Dante’s view. This is an area that you can just drive up to and look out over the park. At an elevation around 5,000 feet you can see pretty far. The park is crazy to me because it includes a span of elevations from 282 feet below sea level, to mountains that are over 11,000 feet high.
The “salty” area was so much larger and more vast than I had ever expected it to be! It is hard to see in most of these pictures because of the clouds, but there was actually snow in the mountains behind the salt flats.
This is one of the few non selfie pictures of us from the entire trip. This stranger did a really good job of getting a nice picture of us! I was also excited because it was finally warm enough to wear my Columbia brand hiking skirt that Jeb got me for Christmas.
We ate lunch of here in this parking lot, and we actually had to put our jackets back on because it was so much cooler up here.
Our next stop was to drive all the way around to the Badwater basin area, that we had just got done viewing from above.
I really liked walking out onto the salt flats.We walked further than anyone else went (at that moment) because we were determined to get pictures without people in them. Plus we wanted a picture where the ground had been completely undisturbed.
Finally we walked far enough to get this view!
I kept telling Jeb he had to lick the ground to make sure it was actually salty haha. Finally I got him to pick up a piece and lick it! I ended up trying it too, it was definitely salty!
I think this is my favorite picture for showing the cracks that naturally develop in the salt!
Walking on this ground was kind of weird because it was sort of crunchy. It reminded me of walking on snow that has developed a hard crust on top.
The next place we went to was the natural bridge. I guess natural bridges are pretty rare for this area and these rocks, so it was neat to see.
Although it was a really short hike, it involved walking on a lot of loose gravelly ground. At this point we had already hiked a lot of miles and we were starting to get pretty tired! All total we hiked over 12 miles that day.
Still not at my goal weight yet, but glad to see pictures that I feel like actually show that I’ve lost some weight! 🙂
Next we did the artists palette scenic drive. This was a one way windy road that went through some pretty terrain.
I love all the colors in the rocks!
In case this park didn’t have enough variety in the terrain, it also has sand dunes! Although not as large as the ones at Sand Dunes National Park, they were still really pretty as sand dunes always are.
We didn’t hike all the way out to the tallest one because at this point slipping and sliding in sand and trying to hike up the dunes was exhausting! But we did go far enough to get some good pictures.
Sand dunes selfie! Our trip wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get sand in our shoes, like so many of our trips… Getting tons of sand in our shoes on the very first day made it even better lol.
Another great park of this park (that I would not have expected for Death Valley) was that our campsite actually had the perfect trees for setting up our hammock. This made Jeb really happy! 🙂
We had a great time that evening eating our dinner, drinking wine, laying in the hammock together, and listening to podcasts (my new obsession)!
We absolutely LOVED Death Valley National Park. I think for me it might have even been my favorite of the national parks that we went to on our trip. I highly recommend people making the trip out there!