Saturday, April 05, 2008

Death Valley Trip

15th - 18th February, 2008

When I first told my colleagues that I'm going to Death Valley, they asked "What is there to see in Death Valley?". I can answer that question better, now.

Death valley is about 8 hours drive from the bay area. We planned for a 3 days trip. I booked a 4WD vehicle (Thanks to the suggestion from one of my college seniors !). It was hard to find an accomodation in Death Valley. So, I booked our stay in Beatty (El Portal Motel). Beatty is about 7 miles east of the Death Valley National Park (~30 minutes drive from Stovepipe wells). My brother joined us for the trip.

We left home on Friday (Feb 15th) and reached Lone Pine around mid night. We stayed in Best Western for that night. On Saturday, we got up early and drove to Death Valley. We stopped at Father Crowley Point for a short break. We then went to Mosaic Canyon. We were quite amazed by the texture of the stones and the canyon. Walking through the narrow trail inbetween the canyon walls was fun.

We reached Stovepipe wells around noon. We then drove to Marble Canyon. Drive to the Marble Canyon was more fun. We had to drive through rough roads, rubbles and stones for about 4 miles. We were surprised to see one lady there who was camping with her dog. There was no one other than her. We had our lunch in Marble Canyon. There were a few hiking trails there. But as always, we didn't hike. We wouldn't have had that adventure without a 4WD vehicle.

We then returned back and went to the Sand Dunes close to Stovepipe Wells. It was nice to see the dunes for the first time in my life :) We spent about 1/2 hour there and went to Ubehebe Crater. The crater was wide and very accessible. We took a few snaps there and went to Scotty's Castle. We didn't take the castle tour. My friends had been to the castle and they told that it was not very impressive.

We drove from Scotty's Castle to Beatty. Beatty is a very small town. El Portel Motel was right in front of the Beatty Museum. It is a very old hotel. Motel 6 in Beatty appeared to be new. StageCoach Casino/Hotel was also pretty decent from the outside. We had our dinner and retired for the day.

The next day, we went to Rhyolite (the ghost town) which was very close to Beatty. On our drive from Beatty to Death Valley we could see the spring blossoms. The view is going to be more beautiful during the mid of spring. We then went to Golden Canyon. The name was very apt to that canyon - it was glittering in the sun. Ganu lost his 10$ glass in Golden Canyon :) We then went to Natural Bridge. We had to hike for about 0.5 mile to get there. We had our lunch there and then went to Bad Water Basin. Bad water basin is claimed to be the lowest elevation point in Death Valley. We also took the Artist's drive which was closer to the Bad water basin.

We then went to Dante's view point. The view of the valley from the Dante's view point was nice. You could get to see the whole salt water basin. We spent some time there and left to Amargosa valley. I wanted to see the Amargosa Opera House & Hotel. All the forums were giving very bad reviews for the Amargosa hotel. It is a very very old hotel and the whole area is kind of deserted (What else can you expect in a desert :)).

On our way back to Zabriskie point, we took the "20 mules team" drive. It was nice. You can drive through in a 2WD vehicle also. We took a rough road to see the "Wall in the hole" but we couldn't find the attraction. So, we stopped after driving for a couple of miles. We reached Zabriskie point at about 5 pm. It was way too early for the sunset. We spent sometime there. It is a nice location. We waited until sun set, took some pictures and returned back to Beatty.

The next day, we checked out and started our journey back home. The return drive was not very hectic. We took several breaks. We stopped at Dinosaur point near I-5 & CA-152 intersection. It was scenic. We reached home at about 6 pm in the evening.

Summer gets too hot and Spring is a nice to visit Death Valley. If you are an admirer of the nature, Death Valley is a must to see place.

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