Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Death Valley

I was in the area for work, and I had the weekend off, so I decided to go check out Death Valley National Park. It was a nice drive over through the desert, lots of spectacular views of the mountains. Upon arriving I stopped at the Stovepipe Wells area to get a pass and talk to the rangers for suggestions on what to do. They recommended a canyon which had some slot canyons that could be explored. Armed with this knowledge and a map, I set out. On the way I stopped at Badwater, the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere.
The salt flats at Badwater
Its hard to see, but there is a sign on the cliff at sea level.
After walking around some, I continued down to Sidewinder Canyon. This is no trail here, and the first challenge is finding the right canyon to walk up, as there are a number that open into the same area. Once you've found the correct one, it is a pleasant walk up the canyon. 
Looking back towards Death Valley
About a mile up the canyon, the first slot canyon leaves to the right. I have never been hiking in a slot canyon, so this was a very cool experience for me. It is amazing to think that the occasional flash flood has carved all of the canyons in the area. 

I explored the first two slot canyons, then continued up the main canyon. After hiking back to my car, I decided to drive north and stop at sights that looked interesting. The first was the natural bridge. This area reminded me of Arches NP, but with only one.
Natural Bridge, with some people for scale.

A dry waterfall.
Next was the Devil's Golf Course. This area was in the middle of the valley, and I was there around sunset. 
Only the Devil could play golf on land like this.
I think Telescope Peak is the highest mountain here.

The mountains on the East side of the valley.

Telescope Peak again.

Looking North.
By the time I got back to my car, it was almost dark, so I headed back home, for a long drive in the dark desert.

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