Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley to Beatty, Nevada
Jun 11, 2006
|The air-con rattled noisily throughout the night but we just had to put up with it - or sleep in a pool of sweat! Eeeer!!
We make a stop at the General Store for our 2 litres of bottled water before venturing out into the desert.
Our first stop was Dante's View where you can see the highest point (Mt Whitney) and the lowest point (Badwater). This view point is more than 5,000 feet above the valley floor giving you a 110 mile view of Death Valley. We were enjoying the surrounds and silence when 6 Harley Davidson motorbikes broomed up to the top!! They were a bunch of old guys crusing through the desert on their Harley's kitted out with all the gear. After our greeting, the one said "you don't sound local - are you from Texas?" in this booming voice!! (We subsequently discovered that he still had his ear plugs in!!)
Next stop was Zabriskie Point where we viewed the golden brown mudstone hills eroded with rills and gullies from the ocassional rainfall. This is a great spot for sunrises and sunsets ... which we were unfortunately not going to have the pleasure of!
We made our way to Badwater Basin and were now 282 feet below sea level. We took a stroll on the broadwalk with the pure white salt table around us. Between 2,000 to 4,000 years ago this site used to be a 30 foot lake that has evaporated leaving a 1-5 foot layer of salt in its wake. It is 4 x saltier than the ocean.
There was also the Devil's Golf Course. This is an area which is crusted over with a variety of salts. The crystalline salt pinnacles dot the landscape and look like a coral reef gone wrong!
We drove the 9 mile detour next which has been called the Artist's Palette where green, yellow, blue, pink colours from the mineral deposits in the rock make this a pretty spectacular site.
We had time enough in the day to stop at Scotty's Castle - in fact just enough time to catch the last tour of the day. The castle takes its name from Walter Scott - better known as Death Valley Scotty - who was an ex cowboy, prospector, performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and a great con-man. Albert Johnson was a millionarie who befriended Scotty - who tried to sell him "shares" in a gold mine - a gold mine he never had. It was an interesting tale of the two gentleman and the history of Death Valley's only mansion built for and paid by Albert Johnson ... not Scotty!!
Whilst we were driving out of the Death Valley National Park a Coyote crossed the road. Unfortunately, he was camera shy and didn't hang around long enough for me to get the camera out and clicking!! It was great to see.
We soon entered Nevada State where we found accommodation in the small desert town of Beatty.