Death Valley 2015, Badwater

Posted on Posted in Truck Camping, Uncategorized

After a day to myself hiking Marble Canyon it was time to hit a few busier spots in the valley.  But first the drive out.

Goodbye Marble Canyon
Goodbye Marble Canyon

I stopped by the Devils Golf Course first.  Nobody was playing golf and I forgot my clubs but I did get some good shots of the salt upheavals that characterize the area.

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My next stop was Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the U.S. at -282 feet.

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Badwater Pond
Badwater Pond

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Badwater is a salt playa most of the time.  During rains it can become shallow lake.  During my visit it was dry, but there was plenty of water just under the surface and I was constantly breaking through the salt crust to the mud below.  It is quite an expanse of white.

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Badwater Basin View
Badwater Basin View

After an hour or so wander on the salt pan I moved on to the next stop, Natural Bridge.  There were a ton of people slogging up the short trail, so I didn’t stay long, but did capture a few shots along the way.

Natural Arch
Natural Bridge
Dry Waterfall
Dry Waterfall

Onward to the next stop up the road, Artists Palette Drive a one way drive along colorful layers of rock.

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I took a quick side hike up a side canyon.  It was one of the few places to escape the crowds and enjoy a quiet jaunt into a cool slot canyon. There were a couple landslides and chockstones in the canyon but they were pretty easy to scramble up.

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After a little over half a mile of scrambling and checking out the interesting layers of rock I came to my dead end.  The canyon narrowed and had a couple of rocks wedged and hanging, and behind those was a vertical wall about 10 feet high.

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End of the Road
End of the Road

So back down it was.

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Next stop on the tour of the valley was Zabriskie Point, some of this was reminiscent of the Painted Hills in Oregon, but actually it is quite different geology.

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20 Mule Team Canyon is also in the neighborhood, but the road was closed due to a recent flash flood.  20 Mule Team Canyon was named for the borax mining that went on in the area.  Apparently borax is one of the few minerals that have been profitably mined in and around Death Valley.  The day was already getting short, so onwards to Dante’s View it was.

Dante's View
Dante’s View

At 5476 feet in elevation it was quite a change from Badwater Basin, directly below, where I was earlier in the day.  It was a great view, but the wind was howling and it was really cold, so I didn’t stick around and enjoy it too long.

Looking down on Badwater (see the trail from the parking lot, right center)
Looking down on Badwater (see the trail from the parking lot, right center)

There is only about an hour of daylight left at this point.  After spending a day at all the tourist attractions it was time to find a nice quiet out-of-the-way camp to spend the night.  I headed to Greenwater Valley a short jaunt from Dante’s.

Greenwater
Greenwater

Before too long I found a level spot to park and enjoyed a stunning sunset.

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Sunset, Greenwater Camp
Sunset, Greenwater Camp

As it got dark I started hearing what sounded like a chukar out in the creosote.  I didn’t ever get a visual, but it sure sounded like that’s what they were.  The cold wind was still whipping so after the sunset I settled in to the camper with a good book for the evening.  It was going to be an early start to be able to get through Titus Canyon and out the Racetrack tomorrow, so off to bed early tonight…

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