Day 7 – Death Valley

Lone Branch Death Valley Sand Dunes

Very long day today driving to, in, and back from Death Valley

Itinerary:

  • 10:30 am Left Vegas for Death Valley
  • 1:00 pm Reached Death Valley National Park
  • 1:40 pm Walked D.V. Sand Dunes
  • 2:15 pm Began hiking Mosaic Canyon Trail
  • 5:30 pm Reached Badwater Basin
  • 10:30 pm Checked in at hotel back in Henderson

Our Adventure:

Overlooking the Valley
Overlooking the Valley

Today consisted of a lot of a driving and many amazing sights. The ride into Death Valley was a long, mostly straight road through the desert. The majority of the drive was in desolate areas with no homes or businesses so when driving the route make sure to fill up your gas tank.

Death Valley

Endless Roads
Endless Roads

The weather was pretty ideal as it is usually much hotter this time of year. It ranged between 67-89 degrees depending on the elevation. Often, temperatures reach well above 100 degrees even in mid-September.

Sand Dunes

Our first stop within the park was at the dunes. You can park then walk a short distance to the actual Dunes. We went about 5-6 Dunes in to take photos and enjoy the experience. It’s interesting how the landscapes change throughout the enormous National Park.

Mosaic Canyon Trail

After finishing up on the Dunes, we traveled way down the road and found this dirt road that led to Mosaic Canyon Trail. If you choose to walk the entire length, the trail is 1.7 miles each way. The way is primarily uphill, but it’s a gradual incline with spots of shade to rest.

In the beginning, there are some small areas you will need to climb somewhat, but nothing too complicated. As you progress toward the end of the 1.7-mile trail, there are several areas where climbing is required to proceed. The efforts are well worth it, but be sure to check each area as some spots have multiple options to climb with varying difficulty.

Near the end of the 1.7 miles, you come to what appears to be a dead end. Several other hikers were at the same point when we reached the dead end, and they simply turned around. We didn’t think it seemed right and we ended up going about 50-75 feet back and found a trail that went further up the mountain. This last section was surprisingly easy once we located it.

The hike back to the car was much easier as it was virtually all downhill. Climbing down the rocks, we had recently scaled was the only real challenge. As difficult as the hike was, I was grateful that I pressed on. Hiking Death Valley even on a “cooler day” is challenging. However, the vast and varying landscape will take your breath away.

Badwater Basin

Our last stop before heading back to civilization for the night was Badwater Basin. Badwater Basin is enormous salt flat that lies 284 feet below sea level and goes on for miles. Much of the Basin is cut off from human use, but there is a large straight section that can be walked on to view the expansive salt flat.

Upon leaving Badwater, we followed route 178 to head back toward Las Vegas area. This course winds through the mountains and feels like it goes on forever. From the point we left Badwater Basin’s parking, we did not see another vehicle for over an hour.

Driving Back

The sun was setting, and the crescent moon was very vibrant. As we proceeded on, darkness came over the land. Due to the location of the park, there is virtually no city glow. Looking up at the sky, you can see an uncountable number of stars more than I’ve ever seen in my life. Being from Massachusetts, I have no way to view a sky like I did today near home. It was mesmerizing, and I highly recommend finding a place where no city lights fill the sky and seeing this for yourself.

Tomorrow is looking to be a trip to or toward the Grand Canyon. We shall see where the wind blows us.

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