Death Valley in a Week a photo essay 3/29/8 - 4/5/8
This site contains roughly 1000 photos with GPS coordinates of Death Valley and includes most of the major attractions. It is intended only to help you determine which attractions you are most interested in seeing. I am not an expert on Death Valley--this was my first trip.
The information provided in the photo essay is not sufficient to plan your trip. There's only a small window of opportunity each spring and fall when it is feasible and safe to visit both the deserts and the high country of Death Valley. It is critical that you obtain current information on road and weather conditions--see these Resources...
This was a fast-paced scouting trip to Death Valley for a Phoenix based Jeep club: Jeep Expeditions... The club is planning a trip for Spring 2009--a more leisurely run.
We drove 945 miles of dusty wash-boarded roads in and around Death Valley. Temperatures ranged from lows in the mid-30's to highs in the low 90's. There were tiny patches of snow along Hunter Mountain road and near Telescope Peak but no mud. All in all, we had perfect weather for the trip.
Day 1... Drive from Phoenix, then North on the Greenwater Road to Kunze where we camped at a primitive site.
24.4 miles, 1hour 10 minutes (The drive from Phoenix was 438 miles and 9h 50m)
Day 2... Dante's View, 20 Mule Team Canyon, Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek Visitor Center slide show and museum, Goldwell art, Rhyolite, Beatty, Titus Canyon. We camped at the Texas Spring Campground.
155 miles, 9 hour 49 minutes
Day 3... Devils Golf Course, Artists Drive, Badwater, West Side Highway, Johnson Canyon, Golden Canyon, Inyo Mine, Borax Museum, Borax Works, Mustard Canyon. Camped at the Texas Spring Campground.
150 miles, 10 hours 53 minutes
Day 4... Stovepipe Wells Village, Marble Canyon and a short hike, Cottonwood Canyon, Stovepipe Dunes, Devils Cornfield, Scotty's Castle, Ubhebe Crater, Crankshaft Junction, Eureka Dunes. We camped at Eureka Dunes.
164 miles, 10 hours 24 minutes
Day 5... Dedeckera Cayon, Steel Pass, Upper and Lower Warm Springs, Saline Valley Dunes, Saline Valley Salt Lake, Lippincott Road, Homestake Dry Camp and mine, Racetrack and Grandstand, Teakettle Junction, Hunter Mountain Road, South Pass, Father Crowley Point, Panamint Spring. Camped at Panamint Springs Campground.
127 miles, 10 hours 8 minutes
Day 6... Stovepipe Wells Village, Emigrant Canyon, Aguereberry Point, Eureka Mine, Aguereberry Camp, Wildrose Canyon, Charcoal Kilns, Thorndike, Mahogany Flat, Ballarat, South Park Canyon, Pleasant Canyon. Primitive camping south of Ballarat on a bluff overlooking Alkali Flat
204 miles, 13 hours 5 miles
Day 7... Ballarat, Goler Wash, Neuman Cabin, Barker (Manson) Ranch Cabin, Mengel Pass, Russel's Camp Cabin, Stella's Cabin, Geologist's Cabin, Warm Springs Camp and Spring, Talc Mine, Harry Wade Road, Saratoga Spring (pup fish and horse flies), Ibex Dunes.
121 miles, 8 hours 45 minutes
(In addition, I drove to Kingman arriving at 10 pm and then drove the rest of the way to Phoenix the next morning.)
Missing Attractions We did not visit any of the following: Mosaic Canyon, Salt Creek (Pupfish), Hole in the Wall, Trona Pinacles, Skidoo, Tucki Mine, Natural Bridge, Lemoigene Canyon, Galena Canyon, Phinney Canyon, Trail Canyon, Panamint City, Darwin, Ibex Spring, Lees Camp, Mesquite Spring Campground, Big Pine Road, North Pass, Cerro Gordo, Lake Hill, etc., etc.
Corrections and suggestions are welcome. If you have photos that you'd like included, send me an email describing them. I'll add a copyright overlay with your name over the image. Photos of attractions that we didn't visit on our trip are especially appreciated.
Hantavirus When visiting cabins and mines, be very careful not to stir up dust due to the danger of Hantavirus--an often fatal disease. It is carried by rodents that live in or visit these areas.
Notes Sometimes the trip mimicked National Lampoon's Vacation--best illustrated by our stop to photograph the "moving rocks" at the racetrack:
I got out of the Jeep, ran onto the flat and asked a departing visitor to point me toward a good track. I ran in that direction, took a few photos and left. Total elapsed time: less than 15 minutes.
Roughly half of my photos (2781 in all) were taken through the windshield while driving at speed.
Death Valley has to be one of the best places in the world to take a Jeep. Constantly changing scenery: slot canyons, old mines, sand dunes, oases, pine forests, remnants of snow in early April, old prospector cabins maintained by volunteers, mountain passes, dry valleys, and did I mention: lots of dust, and a world class collection of washboard roads.
The trip can be summarized by a decision at 4 pm on the last day to detour to a spring to see pup-fish (when both Russ and I were facing 5+ hour drives home). On the way back from that detour, there was a side road with a warning sign: "Deep sand 4 miles ahead". We couldn't resist the challenge even though it added yet another hour and took us out of the way.
Words of caution that hundreds of miles of heavily washboarded roads are brutal on a vehicle.
Both Russ and I had problems with CBs and GPS receivers plugged in via cigarette lighter hardware. Apparently the springs in the plugs aren't up to hours of heavy vibration.
I broke the mount between my axle and front swaybar. Probably from hitting a 12" rock that jumped in front of me at 25 mph.
An aftermarket theft-alarm on my Jeep turned itself on at Eureka Dunes. I didn't have the clicker with me and Russ and I worked for an hour to disable the alarm so I could start the Jeep. Best guess is that two wires in the valet switch temporarily made contact, turning on the alarm.
The GPS coordinates listed under most photos are not very accurate. My Garmin GPS is limited to 2000 points for the active track so I had to save the active track at the end of each day. However, the saved track is simplified to 500 points. #$!#!#! This is good behaviour, most GPS units throw away the time data when you save--which makes it impossible to add Lattiutde and Longitude to photos. I'm currently experimenting with a screenless GPS Logger with 2GB of memory to avoid these problems.