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Death Valley National Park 2014

In November we took advantage of the short work/school week and spent Thanksgiving week in Death Valley National Park. Before going I knew a little about Death Valley - the lowest point in the United States, the mysterious moving rocks, and sand dunes - but wasnít sure what to expect for a week long vacation spent there. We had a great time! I was taken by the variety and beauty of the park. I was especially pleasantly surprised by the canyons we hiked. Fall Canyon was our favorite hike. It was very different from the sandstone canyons we had hiked in UT and AZ, but was just as beautiful with its interesting rocks, colors, and narrows. Other highlights for the week were The Racetrack (site of the moving rocks) and the towering Eureka Sand Dunes. Iím so glad we visited Death Valley and had time to explore different aspects of the park. This was our final itinerary:

Friday: flight from NYC to Las Vegas, overnight in Summerlin
Saturday: supply shopping in Summerlin, drive on Titus Canyon Road, Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Zabriskie Point for sunset, nighttime ranger program (talk about the star life cycle and stargazing with the telescopes), overnight camping on Echo Canyon Road
Sunday: Twenty Mule Team Canyon drive, ranger led hike in Monarch Canyon, a run for Steve along the famous Badwater course, sunset at Mesquite Sand Dunes for Norah and myself, overnight camping on Echo Canyon Road
Monday: Gower Gulch and Golden Canyon loop hike, Natural Bridge, Badwater, Mosaic Canyon hike, Mesquite Sand Dunes, overnight camping Echo Canyon Road
Tuesday: Fall Canyon hike, Norah completes her Junior Ranger badge, Artistís Drive (Steve ran it, Norah and I drove it), overnight camping on Echo Canyon Road
Wednesday: Ubehebe Crater and The Racetrack, overnight camping at the Racetrack
Thursday: return from The Racetrack, stop at Scottyís Castle, drive to Eureka Sand Dunes, overnight camping at the dunes
Friday: return to Vegas, rendezvous with friends, watch Norah be wowed by Vegas (especially the Bellagio), overnight at Ballyís
Saturday: flight back to NYC

Notes:

This book was our main source for planning and information:

Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to Its Natural Wonders and Mining Past

Weather: it was a pleasant 70-75 degrees during the day and cooled off considerably once the sun went down. Sunset was at 4:30, but the sun disappeared behind the tall mountains earlier when we were in the valley (the mountains are 11,000 feet). It was also cooler at higher elevations. On our last morning at Eureka Sand Dunes it was 22 degrees (Steve was foiled in his attempt to make coffee when he found everything frozen!).

Food/services: Furnace Creek is the location of the parkís visitor center and other services - a restaurant, saloon, lodging, gas, general store, etc. There is also food, lodging, and gas at Stovepipe Wells. The food was okay. Certainly overpriced for what we got, but thatís a National Park for you. The Furnace Creek general store had some limited grocery supplies at very high prices. The general store at Stovepipe had just drinks, snack foods, and trinkets.

Critters: Just before we left the Death Valley NP page on Facebook posted it was tarantula mating season and people were seeing them around the park. Ack! Happy to report we did not see any tarantulas. We saw rabbits, foxes, and a coyote, but otherwise we mostly saw signs of animals (many burrows and tracks).
Favorites
:: Favorites ::
Titus Canyon Road
:: Titus Canyon Road ::
Twenty Mule Team Canyon
:: Twenty Mule Team Canyon ::
Monarch Canyon
:: Monarch Canyon ::
Mesquite Sand Dunes
:: Mesquite Sand Dunes ::
Gower Gulch and Golden Canyon
:: Gower Gulch and Golden Canyon ::
Badwater
:: Badwater ::
Mosaic Canyon
:: Mosaic Canyon ::
Fall Canyon
:: Fall Canyon ::
The Racetrack
:: The Racetrack ::
Eureka Dunes
:: Eureka Dunes ::
Miscellaneous
:: Miscellaneous ::