Day 70 – Olancha to Amargosa Valley via Death Valley

We probably should have left the motel earlier in the morning as we knew we were going to drive through death valley and that it was going to be very hot, but we didn’t. Instead we got away between 10 and 11 and it was already very hot. The first part of the road was fairly quiet until we turned onto the 190, where it became busier. The landscape was still dry but the mountains were becoming more interesting and colourful, and I was snapping away like crazy as the landscape kept changing.
By the time we entered the Death Valley National Park the temperature was already well past 40 C and we stopped at Stovepipe Wells to get some advice on what to see and where to go and got a detailed map. By this point we were below sea level and this is a theme in the park, with elevations ranging from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater to 5475 above at Dante’s View. Temperatures also range wildly depending on where you are. We got some good advice from the range and first made our way to Badwater Basin, and stopping at Salt Creek on the way. Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level, as mentioned, and is the lowest point in North America.
From Badwater Basin we drove back and did the Artist’s Drive that features really nice colours and different textures, before stopping at the Golden Canyon Trail. I think this is where the heat got the better of me as I insisted on walking into the canyon for a bit and it was incredibly hot, with a burning wind blowing around me. Even though I grew up in one of the hottest parts of South Africa I struggled to cope with the heat of Death Valley as it was about 47 C at this point, and I started to feel quite sick. We carried on to the next stop, Zabriskie Point, with the aircon at full blast and eventually I started feeling better. The views from Zabriskie are amazing and we took lots of pictures before moving on, and up towards the cooler Dante’s View. From here you can see for miles and it is nice to get so high above the rest of the park (and of course to be slightly cooler!).
By this point we’d seen everything on our list the ranger gave us, so we made or way to the Longstreet Inn and Casino, a truly one horse town with the inn being the only place there to eat or drink at. We had a nice big room with air conditioning and we couldn’t wait to have a nice cool shooter after a long day of sweat and dust. After getting cooled off we had a couple of burgers in the cafe, the only place that was open. They didn’t have bacon and the bar was out of nearly everything I wanted to drink but eventually we managed to get a few drinks and burgers. The burgers were quite good surprisingly, and we had a couple more beers before calling it a night.

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