Death Valley National Park definitely lives up to its name. It is one of the hottest and driest places on earth. Take your time to see different sections of the park because each one has its own scenery and character. Always carry water! You do not know HOT until you visited this park. Day temperatures during my visit, at the end of September, were unbearable! Only early mornings bring cooler temperatures. Do not expect the air to cool down when the sun is down – the grounds are giving back the heat accumulated during the day, which stays trapped in the basin. At midnight, you can expect temperatures still be well above 100 F.
When we arrived at the valley, the air looked wavy. Without checking the thermometer, we could tell it was HOT!
It was late afternoon when we entered he park. On the way to our hotel, my husband decided to make our first stop to photograph sand dunes. That required to take a dirt road to get the trail head. It was eight miles one way. The road was rather easy to navigate, but soon it became a little scary. We spotted two rusted to the bone cars with multiple bullet holes in them. My imagination went wild! We did not meet a single soul on that road.
The road ended at so called trail head. There was absolutely nothing there that even remotely looked like a trail. It was just sand and some anemic shrubs and the dunes far in a distant, at least two miles away. The thermometer was saying 106 F. Against my better judgement, I followed my husband towards the dunes. After a while, I turned back and realized that we could no longer see the car or any other marker which would help us to return. Plus, it was so hot I could not breath. I took a few more steps and I quit! No one knew where we went. There was no phone reception and there was no trail. I am sure if we proceeded, it would be the end of us. Reluctantly, my husband gave up to my demand and we returned to the car.
Our accommodation in the park was at Furnace Creek Resort which is situated in a lush oasis and has everything in one place to serve its visitors. There are restaurants, pool, playground, and two types of lodging – one on a budget and one more upscale. There are cool mist sprinkles located along the stretch of restaurant and shops to help keep visitors cool. Our accommodation was basic but had everything we needed, including air conditioning!
The major attraction of the park is Badwater Basin. The basin is the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is at Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. It is a harsh land but surprisingly beautiful.. On one of the surrendering mountains, the sea level is clearly marked. It is way up.
The most photographed attraction in Death Valley is Zabriskie Point. It is a sunrise and sunset destination and during that times is overtaken by photographers. We witnessed the sunrise. It was spectacular!
Luckily to me, there were some beautiful sand dunes closer to our hotel and easily accessible. It was another spectacular sunrise location.
There are some parts of the park that could be enjoyed even during the heat of the day. One of them is Artist Drive. It is an one way loop cutting through colorful mountain scenery.
Another option for day time activities is hiking the park’s canyons. It will not be cool there but the temperatures can be tolerated by an average person.