The best way to start your trip through Death Valley National Park is from the south, meaning that you get off I-15 at Baker and drive north on route 127 (at Baker, do take a picture with the enormous thermometer, likely to show a high temperature on the day you are there as well). Then, you can take route 178 to Furnace Creek. Before actually mentioning some of the amazing sites, a couple of points to be made regarding safety: this place is really hot and the danger of dehydration is quite high (yes, I know that is something you would be reading in most guides, but here the warnings are real). Besides the water for yourself (nothing under 4 liters for one person), have some water for the engine as well. There are occasional water tanks in the valley as well, but not often enough. If you do plan to take a hike (many trails are available), make sure you have plenty of water and don’t aim too high, especially not summer. If you do take a hike, also watch out for such things as rattlesnakes (yes, that really is just a guide-like recommendation, but you can never be too sure, can you?)
So, why is Death Valley worth seeing? (we’ve sized down a little from amazing, but still there). It was formed about 10,000 years ago after the lake that was there dried up due to the heat. The result is the remaining waterbed of salt, with the desert component as well, and occasional salty pools. To this, we need to add the colors of the rocks, due to the ores (along something that reflects this in name: The Artist’s Drive and The Artist’s Palette) and the spending image from Dante’s Point, with which you should end your experience in Death Valley and have your own reflection on the human condition. Add to that some of the iconic parts, such as Zabriskie’s Point (famous movie by Michelangelo Antonioni), and stargazing at night.
However, a more detailed overlook of the main attractions in the next post. Be sure to check back at www.travelbay.org over the next couple of days for the continuation.