Death Valley National Park

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Today we kidnapped Allista and headed for Death Valley. It was a long day with a lot of driving but we saw some really cool things. The first stop was Ashford Mill Ruins. Not really much to see here except the outside walls of a building.

Badwater Basin
The next stop was the Badwater Basin. This basin is 282 feet below sea level. We walked out on the salt flats, it was really strange. At first it looks like you are stepping on an ice skating rink:

 There is a sign up on the rocks that shows sea level and that is when you realized how far down you really are. Here is a nice photo of the gang:

Natural Bridge
A short drive up the road brings us to the Natural Bridge. It is a half a mile uphill hike to the arch. We left mom in the car for this one. The hike was a bit tiresome as it was on big gravel. Not the best for walking. We hiked past the arch to a dry waterfall. That was kind of cool. Here is the arch and dry waterfall:


Artist's Drive and Palette
This is a one way drive to the face of the Black Mountains and is noted for having various colors of rock. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple). It is really cool!

Furnace Creek and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
After driving through the Artist’s Palette, we headed to the Furnace Creek area for lunch. We stopped at the visitor center where it was over 60 degrees cooler than the last time we stopped there when it was 116 degrees…in the shade! After lunch we drove up the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. We didn’t actually get out and walk to them as we were running out of sun and there was something more exciting up the road. But here is the picture I took from the parking lot:

Mosaic Canyon
The Mosaic Canyon is my new favorite spot of the park. We had never hiked to it before so this was a first for us. The canyon is in the north western mountain face of the valley which is named after a stream-derived breccia sediment with angular blocks of dolomite in a pebbly matrix. The entrance to Mosaic Canyon appears deceptively ordinary, but just a 1/4 mile walk up the canyon narrows dramatically to a deep slot cut into the face of Tucki Mountain. Smooth, polished marble walls enclose the trail as it follows the canyon's curves. There was a great view of the valley on our hike down to the car.


After that we headed back to Tracie’s in Pahrump.

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