Nov 19, 2012

National Parks- Death Valley, The land of extremes!



Death Valley National Park, the land of extremes ... rightly claimed by US National Park authorities ... The name itself says everything! When I visited the park in mid September temperature recorded was 120 Deg F. Every time I got out of the car to see the interesting points I drank half-litre of water. Still I felt I was getting heat stroke! Well, Death Valley National Park is a desert national park in California. One of the fine examples of barren harsh yet extremely beautiful nature. The very interesting feature about this park is that the second lowest point in Western Hemisphere and the lowest point in USA (282ft bsl) exists in this park. And the highest point in lower 48, Mt Whitney stands high nearby!


The national park has diverse landscape ... 3.4 million acres of desert, sand dunes, canyons, valleys, salt flats, badlands and mountains ... making it the largest national park in lower 48 states of USA. The national Park has two valleys, Paramint and Death Valley, later is the most beautiful and interesting.

Mesquite Flat Dunes near Stovepipe Wells is a vast area of sand dunes. Easy to access, these dunes are at most 100ft high. Awalk up the highest dunes and sliding down is fun in the early morning. If lucky one could sight a sidewinder rattlesnake. I haven't seen one yet in my three visits. The moonlight walk here is memorable if you aren't thinking about sidewinders :)


Zebriski Point is the most beautiful sight of badlands. The spectacular view of golden colored and eroded badlands is most popular in the area. I hiked from Golden Canyon to Zebriski Point. It is a mesmerizing walk in between the colored and hot landscape.

Dante's View is a mountain top overlook about 5,000ft high with a most spectacular view of the Death Valley and Badwaters. There is a paved road up the view point.

Devil's Golfcourse is a vast land of eroded rock salt. Extremely serrated rock salt by wind and water seen everywhere ... walking on this may even tear away the hardest of the shoe-soles leave alone our skin and flesh. There is half-a-mile unpaved road to the view point.

Badwaters is a vast salt flat and the lowest point in North America that is 282ft below sea level. During spring there might be some water in the salt lake here.


Natural Bridge is on the way to Badwaters a little off the road. It is a natural rock arch surrounded by some dry waterfalls.

Charcoal Kilns near Wildrose campground are at 7,000ft asl. A better place to be in hot summer. The trailhead to the summit of Wildrose Peak (9,064ft) is located here. The summit of Wildrose Peak is too windswept. Telescope Peak (11,049ft) trailhead is a short drive ahead of these kilns near Mahogony Flat Campground. Both hikes are difficult but provide breathtaking views. These hikes are good in summer months. I will have a separate article on my hiking experiences.

Camping in Death Valley is an experience in itself. The strong winds sweep the sand and dust from the desert. There is no way one can hide from it. All the sand gets inside the tents! When I woke up in the morning I was covered with sand. Because of the dust and the November night's cold together I had a sore throat throughout the trip! And the coyotes bothered me for food all night!


Ubehebe Crater located in the northern part of Death valley is a volcanic crater. The whole landscape here has numerous smaller craters and cinders. Ubehebe in Timbisha (A Native American tribe) means a basket in the rock. This whole area is barren, one can hardly see any vegetation.

Scoty's Castle is located a couple of miles away from Ubehebe crater. Though Scotty was just a caretaker of the place it was named after him. There is an entrance/guided tour fee here. I didn't go inside just admired the structure from outside saving my US$10.

Mosaic Canyon is a easy walk in a narrow canyon. The side walls are twisted and polished marble. It is a 2 mile (one way) hike on a leveled terrain.


Death Valley is a place where you feel technology is useless! I had taken a GPS unit for driving directions which always pointed me to drive on unpaved and unsafe roads. Using a bit of commonsense I didn't go on those roads. By late afternoon the GPS unit stopped working because of intense heat!! Cell phone signal is not at all good in all the places. At one point I thought my cell phone also was out of order! If at all you want to survive make sure you have gallons of water and food in the car trunk, a full fuel tank, a spare tyre and a brain with commonsense. Getting stranded in a hot, dry, remote place with not enough water and food is no fun!  

My family of doctors was never ready to get out of the car when the temperature was 120 deg F and they enjoyed everything from the car or few feet away from the car. All these pictures were taken during my previous two trips. Though I visited the park thrice, there are many more interesting places I haven't visited yet. That is because I didn't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Race Trace Playa is one place I wish to visit and want to shoot star trails in the night. 

Death Valley National Park, a morbid name yet fascinating experience. 
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Leave a comment to share your thoughts :)

For more posts on National Parks of USA click HERE.

This post is linked to Our World Tuesday and Nature Notes.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

38 comments:

  1. Those temparatures are terribly high. Quite a daring adventure if you have gone alone. I dont fancy deserts, but the pictures are beautiful. Its great, you are showcasing all these places. I really had no clue!

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    1. Thanks Jenny. I went there alone only once. But, then I realized it wasn't a great idea :)

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  2. Terrific landscapes!! That is an apt name for the place. Nice article, Kusum.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  3. Wow! They are just amazing! Such rugged landscape, yet looks beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Anuradha, yeah it is an extreme place.

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  4. is it really a valley of death??
    extreme places for sure

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    1. Yes it is if we are not careful. I have seen a grave of a woman who died while hiking, the temp was 120 deg F.

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  5. Lovely description of the visit to the Death Valley Kusum:) You certainly are footloose:)

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  6. wow...thanks for the wonderful post n visual tour Kusum..:)
    Tasty Appetite

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    1. Thank you Jay for visiting my blog! I love your food blog.

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  7. Terrific post for the day, Kusum, and superb captures!! I have been to Death Valley and you have described it so perfectly! It is awesome and scary at the same time!! Thanks for sharing this with us today!! Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you Sylvia. Glad you agree with me :)

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  8. Wow! Amazing captures of a fascinting place!

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  9. Looks hot and dry. Gorgeous shots.

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    1. Thank you Lady Fi. The place is extremely hot and hence dry :)

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  10. Oh my goodness the shots are absolutely gorgeous- they remind me of some kind of science fiction scenery!!! Truly reality is stranger than fiction is it not? You've made me want to visit there- I can't believe you camped there!! You are truly amazing.

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    1. Thank you Anjuli. Yeah, pictures make the place very special :) Actually a lot of people camp here n the popular campsites as well as remote ones. There are many such popular desert parks where people go for winter camping.

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  11. I admire your spirit of adventure. I wouldn't be brave enough to camp out in such a potentially dangerous place as this so thanks for the photos as I think this is probably one place I won't be visiting.

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    1. Oh! No! It is a great place to visit only thing is to be a little careful. The national park is pretty safe. If not camping there are few hotels to stay inside and outside the park.

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  12. What amazing landscapes... I love Our World Tuesday because I get to see images like this.

    Mollyxxx

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    1. Thank you Molly! Yes, me too love this meme because it enables me to enjoy other parts of the world!

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  13. Great scenes!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  14. What a magnificent place! Beautiful yet so forbidding. Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Welcome to my blog Tina! Thanks! Glad you like the pics.

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  16. Kusum, what a great post. Lots of information and your photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing this land of extremes.

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  17. stunning photos! Must have been a wonderful trip, a place I have never been to. If you have time tomorrow or perhaps Sunday or Monday, please stop by to visit the gratitude quilt and add words of gratitude of your own in the comment box below... it will be posted early Thursday morning, November 22nd. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  18. Beautiful country but so high and so dry. It is important to stay hydrated although when it gets that hot, I don't know how much you would have to drink. It is funny, but here in NY we have hot summers but always with humidity. I have never visited anywhere where it was hot and dry.. but then I would probably be in the car too.... Thank you for linking into Nature Notes Kusum...Michelle

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    1. Thank you Michelle! You Know? I haven't visited East coast. Some day I will :)

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  19. A very interesting place indeed,love those kilns.

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