Death Valley National Park, CA

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MAP-Death Valley National Park-3
Directions: The shortest route to Death Valley from Las Vegas is only 2 hours or 120 miles. From Interstate 15 South , EXIT on NV Hwy 160 West. Drive 60 miles to Pahrump, Nevada and turn left onto Bell Vista Road (3 miles north of Hwy 372). Drive 30 miles to Death Valley Junction, California and turn right onto CA Hwy 127. Drive about 300 feet and turn left onto CA Hwy 190 and drive 30 miles to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Fig. 02). This route from the east is probably the most popular entry into Death Valley.
Park Description: Death Valley National Park is a desolate land of extremes. It can claim being the hottest, driest and lowest spot in America. A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers and water-fluted canyons. At 3,099,770 acres, it has the largest area of designated national park wilderness in the contiguous United States. That’s 91% of the entire National Park system! Despite that figure, nearly a thousand miles of paved and dirt roads intersect this wilderness, providing ready access to all but the most remote locations. In other words, most of the land between the roads in Death Valley National Park has been given an additional layer of protection from further development by being designated as wilderness. Wilderness, as defined in the Wilderness Act of 1964, is land “protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable.” Originally home to the Timbisha Shoshone people, it is also home to many plants and animals that are unique to one of the harshest deserts in the world.

Death Valley National Park is generally divided into four main recognized areas; Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Scotty's Castle and Panamint Springs. Entering the park from the directions above brings one into the Furnace Creek Area, which is probably the most popular and most visited. The Furnace Creek Inn (Fig. 01), is a green place filled with water sounds and shaded by palm trees, set on a hillside in the middle of one of the driest places on the continent and is literally an oasis in the desert. A natural hot spring feeds the Furnace Creek Inn swimming pool, keeping it at a constant, perfect 82-84° F.  Built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company, the Furnace Creek Inn opened in 1927 and was finished in 1935. Its adobe brick walls were made on site by Paiute and Shoshone laborers. Markers (Figs. 3 & 4) at the point where the road divides north and south, note this historic area and the fact that you are now at sea level. Click the links that follow to view pictures and learn more about the more famous sites in this area.
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EP-P1060163-2Billie Mine: Located in the center of the main borate mining district of Death Valley, just outside of Death Valley National Park, the now shut down Billie Mine was one of the largest Borax mines in the Ryan District. The actual national park boundary runs along the west side of the wash and road here, making both the Billie Mine site and the abandoned mining town of Ryan visible in the near distance to the south just outside of the national park. However, the shafts of the Billie mine ended up running under and into the Death Valley National Park.
EP-P1060120-2The Ghost Town of Ryan: Ryan Company Town is one of the best preserved ghost towns and mining camps in the state of California. This ghost town epitomizes what the “Old West” was all about. Built in 1914, it was a company mining town built in a remote and rugged area on the side of a steep mountain on the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park that served several borax mines. Its railroads, the Death Valley Railroad and the Baby Gauge Railroad, transported the Borax ores out of the area for processing.
EP-P1060133-P1060135-2Dante's View: Dante's View is a viewpoint terrace at 5,476 feet on the north side of Coffin Peak, along the crest of the Black Mountains. Overlooking Badwaater Basin and the inferno of Death Valley, it is without doubt, the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park. Both of Death Valley’s elevation extremes, Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level and due west to Telescope Peak, 11,049 feet above sea level, can be seen in a single glance.
E-P1030309 Stitch-220 Mule Team Drive: The area surrounding the 20 Mule Team Drive was created by the remarkable effects of wind, rain and erosion. , this scenic drive through multicolored badlands, situated in the old Monte Blanco mining district, provides views of the stunning topography of Twenty Mule Team Canyon in Death Valley. It is a one-way, single lane road through the northern end of the Black Mountains, it goes through the Death Valley badlands area; an area of quickly eroding, soft mud mountains which were actually once the bottom of a seasonal lake that existed a long, long time ago.
Zabriskie Point - Badland Loop Trail: This past week, Blake Smith, Robert Croke, Ron Ziance and I decided to drive to Death Valley National Park to hike the Badland Loop trail at Zabriskie Point. Zabriskie Point itself is an elevated overlook of a colorful, undulating landscape of gullies and mud hills at the edge of the Black Mountains, just a few miles east of Death Valley. The Badland Loop trail is a 2.2 mile hike that puts hikers right in the center of some of the most desolate, barren terrain on earth. 

E-IMG_2851-2Furnace Creek Area: This link to the “Furnace Creek Area” is a summary page that encompasses additional links with pictures and information on many of the area’s better known sites, including but not limited to: 20 Mule Team Canyon, Zabriski Point, Harmony Borax Works, Borax Museum, Golden Canyon, Artists Drive, Devil’s Golf Course, Natural Bridge Canyon, Badwater, and the Ashford Mill Ruins.
You can view pictures of some of the wildflowers I’ve captured at some of these sites at the following page …   Death Valley National Park Flora.

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Slideshow Description: The slideshow above contains 65 pictures that were taken during various visits to Death Valley National Park.
PDF Collage: In 2009 I produced a series of  PDF collages for the creation of  "Our Travel & Entertainment Diary" blog. Click here to view a two page PDF collage of our trip to Death Valley National Park ... Death Valley National Park. Click here to view a one page PDF collage of the Armargosa Hotel, where we stayed during our visit to Death Valley ... Armargosa Hotel and Opera House.