It was Christmas long weekend. When I told my boss that I reserved a campground at Death Valley National Park, he exclaimed (sarcastically) 'How Christmasy!'; I wasn't sure myself what to expect at Death Valley during Christmas but it is among the few National Parks we could venture to camp during winter with its campground being below sea level, or so we thought. We began our journey from Bay Area and our friends joined us from Phoenix.
The wind was blowing hard when we reached the campground at 4 pm. Our wonderful friends had already set the tent up, so we settled in quickly. Sitting inside the tent, we could hear the strong winds as the Sun was setting in the background. The tent was shaking and we wondered if it could survive another day. We saw our neighbor's tent fall down and we sat tight. It was getting cold, so we had quick dinner around campfire and off we went to bed hoping things would be better the next day.
We got up the next morning and it looked better. We made breakfast and just as we were about to finish, the wind started blowing again. This time, our breakfast plates and camp chairs flew. We gathered our stuff, packed up quickly and decided to drive around to see the place.
The best way to describe the place is the way my husband put it - Just like Seinfeld is famously a “show about nothing,” Death Valley is famously a National Park about nothing. Really. It was as if we were driving on a highway in Arizona hoping to reach a destination where there is none. With all the mounds of earth, gravel, sand and rocks all around, to me, it felt like the Park was under construction, only permanently.
Day 3 looked brighter and calmer. Our friends left for their next destination and we decided to do some hiking. We got into the car and it would not start. Our car battery died. And I was feeling dehydrated in winter. We have begun to see the impact of Death Valley. On us.
We spent most of the day getting the car fixed and then went to see the salt flats in the Badwater Basin. It is one of the few places in the United States where you can see such large salt flats and it was quite interesting. We started warming up to the place. We also found ourselves enjoying the nothingness. It was truly an escape from the crowds. Into the wilderness.
Sharing with you all the pictures of a few attractions at Death Valley National Park.
|View from Dante's Peak|
|Hike through Golden Canyon|
|Devil's golf course|
|A closer look at the salt deposits|
|Salt deposits @ Badwater Basin|
|A closer look at the salt deposit formations|
Other attractions are Mesquite sand dunes, Zabriskie Point which is closed during our trip and the Racetrack with the mysterious moving rocks. We did not attempt the road to racetrack drive for fear of a flat tire in the middle of a desert (the road is very infamous for that with pretty sharp rocks) and the drive is only recommended for high-clearance vehicles with heavy-duty tires.
All in all, I would recommend driving through Death Valley National Park to see the salt flats and camping there to experience windy wilderness :)