2016 Feb 11 – Day 32 – California and Beyond – Death Valley

Day 32 – February 11 – Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek (Death Valley)

We began our last full day in Death Valley marking off the things we want to see that are located south of Furnace Creek.

Furnace Creek Ranch is a large enterprise. They have many hotel rooms, individual cabins, RV spots and a campground.  There is a general store, a saloon, a restaurant, a steakhouse, a museum about the Borax mining that took place in Death Valley, horseback riding, bike rentals, jeep rentals, a pool, spa, tennis courts, swimming pool, 18 hole golf course with a 19th hole club house, and an off-lease dog park.  About a mile down the road is the fancier Furnace Creek Inn.IMG_0092 IMG_0028 IMG_0029 IMG_0030 IMG_9407 IMG_9595It was highly recommended that we go to Zabriskie Point and Dantes View; both viewpoints – so after breakfast that is where we headed so we would have the morning sun behind us as we looked down the valley.

IMG_9458 IMG_9459

IMG_9410 IMG_9412 IMG_9413 IMG_9426 IMG_9428 IMG_9441 IMG_9442 IMG_9443 Look at all the pathways people have created on the crests.IMG_9444 IMG_9445 IMG_9460 IMG_9461 IMG_9462 IMG_9467There is a sign at the bottom of the hill on the way up to Dantes View (elevation 5475′) that says no vehicles longer than 25′ may travel to the top and the last 1/4 mile is a 15% grade.  There is a parking lot a mile or so from the top where you can unhitch and leave your trailer.

There is a group of women cyclists on tour in the valley.  We saw them riding back from the end of the pavement when we were on our way out to the Racetrack. We saw them again today riding up this steep winding road.  Brave people! You have to keep in mind that the bottom of the road is about 100 feet above sea level.  That is a long, hard ride.  And very steep coming down.

IMG_9468IMG_9473 The view is pretty amazing.  You can see the length of Death Valley in both directions.

IMG_9477Though you can’t see them this long sign has the names of all the mountain peaks on the Panamint Range across the valley.IMG_9481 IMG_9483 IMG_9515 IMG_9496The salt flat is called Badwater and there is a brown smudge where the white meets the mountain brown. This is dirty salt from people walking on it.  If you could zoom it in very close you would be able to see people down there.  Also, you can see the end of an alluvial fan at the lower left.  The road that we will drive on later skirts the outer edge of it.

IMG_9511 IMG_9525 IMG_9526 IMG_9527 IMG_9529 IMG_9531                       The wind swept salt flat looks like ocean waves on a beach.IMG_9534 IMG_9544 IMG_9548 IMG_9552 IMG_9558 IMG_9560 IMG_9561 IMG_9567 IMG_9574 IMG_9586 IMG_9590Once we returned from Dantes View we drove 45 miles down a valley road to Ashford Mill. This, we were told, was the best place to see the wild flowers.  The predominant bloom is the yellow daisy-like Desert Gold, but if you look you can see other flowers as well.

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The flowers follow the moisture in the soil from the October rains runoff. IMG_9621 IMG_9625 IMG_9635 IMG_9637 IMG_9644 IMG_9650 The further south we drove the more flowers there were.IMG_9653 IMG_9657 Desert Gold




IMG_9685 IMG_9686 IMG_9718 IMG_9721                                             Brown-eyed Evening PrimroseIMG_9667

A small lake/poolIMG_9673 This coyote sauntered across the road in front of our truck and stopped.  He never moved while I took about 7 photos of him with my camera, then got John’s camera and took some with that.  He was still standing there when we drove away.IMG_9681IMG_9704IMG_9728IMG_9731IMG_9747IMG_9754IMG_9755IMG_9757IMG_9759IMG_9775Ashford Mill is at the end of the pavement on this road.  In the spring through fall months you can drive a gravel road out of the park into Arizona.  The road is closed in the winter.  After we had taken many, many photos of the flowers we turned around to go see all the things we had driven past on our way out.  We wanted to be sure to see the flowers in nice light so we ignored everything else until the return.

IMG_9802 (2) IMG_9805 (2) IMG_9807 (2) IMG_9808 (2) IMG_9819 (2) IMG_9812 (2) Look very closely at this photo and find the sign that marks sea level on the cliff.IMG_9813 (2) IMG_9820 (2) IMG_9821 (2)IMG_9822 (2)IMG_9823 (2)IMG_9815 (2)

IMG_9827 (2) IMG_9828 (2) IMG_9829 (2) IMG_9832 (2) IMG_9826 (2) IMG_9833 (2) It’s a long walk on the salt flat.IMG_9836 (3) IMG_9841 (3) IMG_9842 IMG_9857 IMG_9858Just a bit further down the road is the turn-off to Devil’s Golf Course.  It was only about a 1/2 mile of gravel road away.IMG_9869IMG_9870IMG_9871IMG_9874IMG_9881IMG_9887We backtracked a bit after talking to some ladies at Devil’s Golf Course and returned to the parking lot at the trailhead to the Natural Bridge.  We had pulled into it on the way by but the trail was a 2 mile one-way hike.  We, unfortunately did not have the time because it was getting late and we wanted to be on Artist’s Drive when the sun was beginning to go down.  But the ladies told us that just off the parking lot at the beginning of the trail there were more wildflowers, specifically one I had wanted to see but had, as yet, not found.

IMG_9892 IMG_9900 This is a Desert Five-spot.  Isn’t that the cutest little flower?IMG_9896 IMG_9897                                       This flower is called Gravel Ghost. IMG_9902

And this is Lesser MojaveaIMG_9905We arrived at the beginning of the one-way Artist’s Drive a smidge later than we had hoped but the colours were still wonderful.IMG_9907 IMG_9908 IMG_9920 IMG_9931 IMG_9952 IMG_9955 IMG_9985 IMG_9986 IMG_9987 IMG_9958 IMG_9959 IMG_9970 IMG_9971 IMG_9975 IMG_9992 IMG_9994John instantly saw the head of a bear in this rock.  Do you see it?



And, now I am all done for the day.  It was a good one. I have concluded that I could take a photograph in Death Valley every day for about 400 years and never repeat a shot.  We met a fellow who has been spending a month here every year for 16 years.  I totally understand.  We will be back.



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