"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Short Side Trip through Death Valley

Death Valley, CA
Texas Springs Campground

We hadn't been to Death Valley since the kids were little so we wanted to spend a couple days on our way back to California.  We paid $30 to enter the park that is good for the next 7 days.
We hadn't driven this way to the park and enjoyed the different route.  We took Rt 190 and passed this huge cow and Worlds Largest Firecracker.

We stayed in Texas Springs Campground which sat back up in the hills a bit and was somewhat more protected from the wind.  It's more private and pretty too.  We didn't need any hookups and were able to use the dump/fresh water fill at the entrance.  We had site #37, $16.

Here's a throwback to the 60s when my family was camping in Death Valley.  Boy the places we went in our camper!  Later we pulled a ski boat and also carried 3 motorcycles.  Can you say, "Beverly Hillbillies"?  We had the greatest childhood!!
It was funny to see this phone booth near the campground entrance.  No phone though.
Since we had 2 solid days, we planned a drive to nearby Badwater one day and a slot canyon hike the other day as we've seen about every inch of this park over the years.

This area is so pretty.  A side dirt road takes you to Artists Pallet.  We came just before sunset to see the colors really pop.
This couple had the same idea.  I guess they couldn't make up their mind which color to paint their new car.  One side is black, the other is white.

Just before the sun went down we walked out to Badwater, the lowest point in the  US.  It's changed quite a bit since we were here last.  There is a nice walkway system now so that it's handicap accessable to get to the salt flats.
At first I thought maybe it had sunken further down, but my altitude app showed an accuracy of +/- 62 feet at the moment.

We enjoyed walking quite a ways out before turning back.  We almost thought of staying to watch the sun totally set, but didn't bring flashlights with us.

So much salt deposits.

The next day we took a ride to Beatty.  We were supposed to do our slot canyon hike as it's our last day, but I have a cousin who lives in Beatty I haven't seen since I was a teen.  She knew about when we were coming and said to give her a call once we were in DV.  Well I couldn't get through on any numbers I had so we decided to go anyway.  This way we could stop at the Rhyolite Ghost Town too which was a favorite of ours.

We figured we'd drive through town and stop in some of the old gem stores.  Well with Covid, everything was pretty much closed or out of business.  There isn't too much here.  It hasn't changed much since we were here last.  Since we couldn't get a hold of my cousin we decided to stop in the Happy Burro and get a bowl of chili.  It was very cold today and windy.
Since this town has a population of maybe 1000 and my cousin was a school teacher (and her husband a geologist) I figured the restaurant owner would know her and maybe give us her address.  Turns out she does know her.  She couldn't get ahold of her either but was willing to drive us up there as her house is hard to find.  We decided not to just "show up" so we thanked her and told her to tell my cousin hello next time she saw her.

These gentlemen were all masked up and deep in conversation.
This nice outside stove warmed up the area.  The chili was good and we headed to Rhiolyte next.
The old mine.

The old town seen as you drive up.
It was very windy and soooo cold!
This is the Last Supper made by Poland-born Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski in 1985.  Our kids just loved these ghostly figures and stood inside them all.  We did the same and sent them pictures.

A large paper crane and the Naked Lego Lady.
Hurley and I sitting on the Mosaic Sofa.  It is encouraged.

A large iron cut-out.  Not sure what the Penguin is supposed to represent.
Ah, the Ghost with the Bicycle.  My personal favorite!
The Tom Kelly Bottle House is the only one of three bottle houses remaining.  Since our last visit this home and the other old buildings are surrounded with fencing.  I get it, you don't want them broken into or spray painted.  It kind of takes away from it though.

The road approaching the old town.  The museum was closed due to Covid but you could walk around and explore on your own. 

Cook and Co. Bank
The old railway stop.
Caboose that's seen better days.

The Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery

We really wanted to do that hike to the Natural Bridge so we got up early and decided to do the hike before we left since we were in no hurry.

Looking back towards the parking area.
The walk is all steady and uphill.

The Natural Bridge is 35 feet thick.

The gravel is very soft and like walking at the beach in deep sand.  It's like 2 steps forward and one step back.  Good for the calves!
This what is called The Dry Waterfall.

Looking up you can see the old water patterns.
At the end of the canyon is a very smooth section that looks like a frozen waterfall.  The rock is beautiful shiny colors of green, white and blue and pink.
It doesn't look very high in this picture, but...
When I climbed to the top and looked back down at Steve you get a better feel for it.  It was tricky to climb as the rock has been worn very smooth.

And we're back.  
It was a nice stop and we're glad we spent a little more time here. 
In less than 3 hours we'll be in Lone Pine to boondock in the Alabama Hills!!!

ps.  Our truck just turned 150,000 miles.


  1. Death Valley was nothing like we thought it would be. Awesome hikes and the colours are incredible. We missed Rhyolite so will have to return. Great pics!
    Safe travels!

    1. I've been a few times. It is a great park with so much to see and do. Rhyolite is one of our favorites. Technically it's out of the park but not far.

  2. Great recap and pics of DV. I'm working on a post from our trip there several years ago. We didn't cover nearly enough ground and I'd love to return again sometime and explore more. Looks like you had a fun childhood.

    1. It was just a quick trip through but we got to see the things we wanted again and we had not done the hike before so that was fun too!

  3. Bummer you were not able to meet up with your cousin but that hike sure looked like a workout! We were there for a couple of days a few years ago but did not get to that area. Looks like a great reason to go back!

    1. Since we go back and forth from CA and AZ we'll see her one of these times. We've about driven every possible way. You could spend a week there to see it all. It's very spread out.

  4. We loved Death Valley. We really didn't know what to expect, but were blown away by the beauty. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. It was fun to pop back in and find a hike we hadn't done before. We're always looking for a different route from AZ back to CA.

  5. I never knew Death Valley was so diverse. Guess I'll have to add it to a trip sometime. The ghost art sculptures are quite unique. Another place we'll need to visit one day.

    1. If you haven't been you surely need to! A week would keep you plenty busy!


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