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Driving Through Death Valley And Mojave

After visiting Grand Canyon NP, I headed towards California.
#1 attraction on my "Bucket List Of Things To See" - Death Valley National Park.

This is the "weirdest" National Park I've ever visited. There is no "official park entrance". Basically, Death Valley National Park is HWY 190 that runs through the park ( Death Valley got its National Park status only in 1994. The earlier legal status of Death Valley as a National Monument rather than a National Park was largely a political consideration ).

What does it mean to you ? No "official entrance fee" !!!

The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is the major Park Service interpretive effort in Death Valley. When I asked a ranger for a map, his first question was if I'd paid the park fee. So, if you don't care about the map, no need to pay !

TIP: Once again, don't be lazy and stupid ! Do your research before the trip ! If you just GOOGLE "points of interest death valley", you will find more helpful and interesting information than any ranger can provide !

My first point of interest was Zabriskie Point -

Zabriskie Point is an elevated overlook of a colorful, undulating landscape of gullies and mud hills at the edge of the Black Mountains, just a few miles east of Death Valley - from the viewpoint, the flat salt plains on the valley floor are visible in the distance
It's right be the HWY, just a short ( 5 min) hike. Snap a picture, and off you go...

TIP : If you REALLY want, make an extra effort to drive to Badwater Basin, the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet below sea level. Other than taking a picture by the sign, you really won't see much ( since I visited the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, I didn't want to waste my time just for that ).

Next was the Furnace Creek Resort. It was also weird. In the middle of nowhere, a resort !

Targeting wealthy visitors, they set out to create a luxurious oasis, hoping it would become as much of a must-see attraction as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.
Long story short, it didn't become a "must-see attraction". It hardly deserves spending 10-15 minutes, walking around the Borax Museum:
The Borax Museum at the Ranch at Furnace Creek provides the history of the property and key figures involved in the history of Death Valley and the resort. It offers a pictorial history and showcases artifacts from the past such as antique stagecoaches, mining tools and a railroad steam locomotive. It is the oldest structure in Death Valley.
TIP: Are you an avid golfer ? The resort features the world's lowest golf course (18 holes at 214 feet below sea level).

But my BIGGEST DREAM was to see SAND DUNES !

For me, "desert" has always been associated with sand dunes. Unfortunate, only less than one percent of Death Valley is covered with dunes.
Mesquite Flat Dunes are the best known and easiest to visit in the national park. From the parking lot, it's an easy hike to the dunes, but if you want to wonder a bit further, it'll become a challenge. Although the highest dune rises only about 100 feet, hiking in the middle of the summer is no "walk in the park".

Which brings me to my last TIP : when is the best time to visit Death Vally ?


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