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Death Valley National Park was an unknown and has always been a bit scary to think about as the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet below sea level. It is in a remote corner of California and about a two hour drive from Las Vegas. Once at the park the distances between the major features is significant so plan to do some driving. At one end of the park is Scotty's Castle. Scotty was a schemer who got money from folks back east, thinking they were investing in a gold mine. There was no mine but a friendship between a wealthy man, Albert Johnson and Scotty developed. The Death Valley Ranch was built, the Hearst Castle of the desert. Ranger tours are given daily. The rangers assume the role of someone out of the 1920's and give a very entertaining tour through the rooms.
Death Valley is approximately 100 miles long and 50 miles wide and offers much in the way of sightseeing and hiking. The valley is surrounded by mountains, some of which were snow-capped. What a contrast. There are sand dunes to climb and further down the road, an 18 hole golf course. There are salt flats and the ruins of a borax mine where 20 mule team wagons carried their loads out of the valley to the railroad. A one way road takes you through the Artist Palette where the rocks and sand take on an amazing array of colors.
The Furnace Creek Inn is a desert oasis. Looking out from the lush ground towards the desert floor of the valley provides quite a contrast.
We spent one whole day to see Death Valley and by the time we drove there and back to our Vegas campground we had put 425 miles on the car. This was a bit insane but the only other real choices were to stay at the Furnace Creek Inn or to drive the motorhome there and stay in one of the campgrounds in the middle of Death Valley. I'm glad we didn't drive the motorhome there because it would have required several additional mountain roads and the campgrounds do not have electricity and were too big of an unknown. Even though it was a lot of driving, we were happy with our choice to leave the motorhome, with pets, in Las Vegas.
If you want to go directly to photographs taken during our Death Valley visit, just click on this Death Valley Photos link.