As the driest, hottest, and lowest place in North America, Death Valley is certainly a land of extremes. At 3.4 million acres, it’s also the largest national park in the Lower 48, about the size of my home state of Connecticut.
What I couldn’t imagine before visiting is how beautiful it is, with a variety of things to see and do, even a castle.
Badwater Basin and Salt Flats above is one of the hottest spots in the valley (FYI: plan on drinking one gallon of water a day in the hotter months) and, according to The Tree of Life, a slice of heaven. However, as evidenced by their names, things in Death Valley are generally not seen as heaven on earth.
These menacing names belie the fun that can be had in the park. One of the most entertaining features, especially for kids, are the sand dunes. The easiest to get to are those just outside Stovepipe Wells.
The Mesquite Flat Dunes are about 150 feet high and a popular spot for running, jumping, surfing, and just plain mellowing out and watching the sunset.
Photographic opportunities abound throughout the park, especially at sunrise (yeah, that never happened) and sunset. You can see more images in my Death Valley Image Gallery.*
Death Valley is certainly worth a detour and is one of my favorite national parks thus far. I can’t wait to go back.
*7% of the credit for these photographs goes to @javachik, who graciously loaned me her camera for the weekend.