Death Valley National Park, June 2020

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Yosemite & Death Valley 2020
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Death Valley National Park, June 2020 

 After a very nice drive from Yosemite to Shoshone we visited Death Valley National Park proper; starting with a morning stop at China Ranch just outside Tecopa where we had stayed the night before. This is a date ranch that was named after a Chinaman who had worked at the Borax mine nearby; pictures below 

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Desert Landscape with oasis green vegetation and the China Ranch in the desert valley (center of image) thanks to a natural spring
Desert Landscape with oasis green vegetation and the China Ranch in the desert valley (the green in the center of image) thanks to a natural spring
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Road in canyons carved by flash floods in soft sandstone
Road in canyons carved by flash floods in soft sandstone
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, China Ranch story
China Ranch story
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Interesting desert landscape during our hike; thanks to natural springs
Interesting desert landscape during our hike; thanks to natural springs
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, About Dates
About Dates
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Date Palms growing in the middle of a desert
Date Palms growing in the middle of a desert

After the China Ranch, we drove back to Death Valley. We had 2 choices to get back; go back the same way we had come the previous day; or go via the backroad thru Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the USA, 282ft below sea level. The Badwater basin was something I had definitely wanted to visit while in Death Valley National Park; the problem was that the National Park; though open, was only opening in phases, and the Badwater Basin portion of it was still closed 🙁.  The road from Shoshone to Badwater basin was closed with several barricades but was easily by-passable. 😀

Since this was a place I badly wanted to visit, we decided to go directly to Badwater Basin, and then continue to our hotel in Death Valley National Park; hoping that road was also open/by-passable at the other end. The problem with doing this was IF we had problems on this road like a car breakdown or any other issue/emergency because: 

  • There was no cellphone service on this road 
  • There were not likely to be any other people here 
  • There were no Park services open & no Park Rangers or patrols along this stretch 
  • There was no place to get drinking water or food on this stretch  
  • It was going to be very hot 
  • The roads inside may be barricaded and not passable 
  • We could get into deep trouble with the Park for not following their rules 

We filled up several bottles with water, took some food, and drove past the barricades on the road and drove to Badwater Basin; taking all the risks. Looking back; that was probably not the smartest idea. Some pics below 

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, The National Park road to Badwater Basin here was in very good shape; like most roads inside the National Park
The National Park road to Badwater Basin here was in very good shape; like most roads inside the National Park

We soon arrived at Badwater Basin, but the road was closed with a swing gate 😀 and no way to get around this by car. I checked the gate, and fortunately, it was not locked 🙂 ; so I was able to swing it open and get to Badwater Basin. Hopefully, there would be no more of such roadblocks further on. 

 We had arrived 🙂 and it was 110F (43C). We were the only people here; normally this place is very busy with tourists.  At 282ft below sea level, this was not the lowest point we have visited; the lowest was the Dead Sea in Jordan at 1410ft below sea level. See pics and explanations below for Badwater Basin 

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Badwater Basin, 282ft below Sea level, with salt flats behind
Badwater Basin, 282ft below Sea level, with salt flats behind
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, How Badwater Basin got its name
How Badwater Basin got its name
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, So serene and beautiful, but hot
So serene and beautiful, but hot

Panoramic view of Badwater Basin

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, We were totally alone here, not another person or any life in sight
Serene, beautiful, hot. We were totally alone here, not another person or any life in sight
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, A little about Badwater Basin
A little about Badwater Basin
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Lowest points on the earth below sea level
Lowest points on the earth below sea level
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Badwater pool and the saline deposits around it left over after the water evaporated. The water was very salty
Badwater pool and the saline deposits around it left over after the water evaporated. The water was very salty
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Salt Flats
Salt Flats

The Salt flats were big, but not as impressive or extensive as the Raan of Kutch. 

After checking this area for a short while (it was very hot); we got back in the car and headed towards Furnace Creek, where we were staying the next few days; hoping no more roadblocks. Some views along the way. 

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, View of Dante’s peak, towering 5,575 ft (1,699 m) above Badwater Basin, on the ridge of the Black Mountains
View of Dante’s peak, towering 5,575 ft (1,699 m) above Badwater Basin, on the ridge of the Black Mountains
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Devil's Golf Course is a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley
Devil’s Golf Course is a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, No roadblocks so far; Artists Palette hills in the background; colorful
No roadblocks so far; Artists Palette hills in the background; colorful

360 degree view on this road to Furnace Creek from Badwater Basin; absolutely desolate

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Spectacular landscapes
Spectacular landscapes

We reached the end of the road from Badwater Basin to the main road in Death Valley National Park Hwy 190 at Furnace Creek. Fortunately, there had been no other roadblocks along the way, and there were barriers on this road where it met Hwy 190, but once again, were easily passable on the side of the road and no Park Rangers around; so the risks we took turned out to be good for us; we were finally at Furnace Creek. We checked into The Oasis at Death Valley resort which was a very nice resort that had just re-opened (we had checked and booked this place in advance a few days prior); and since it was not yet dark, we decided to check out a little more of Death Valley. Some images below

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Wind sculpted yellow landscape
Wind sculpted yellow landscape
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Need to be extremely careful; warnings like these jolt you
Need to be extremely careful; warnings like these jolt you

Sunset Panoramic view at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Beautiful Sunset in Death Valley
Beautiful Sunset in Death Valley

After watching the sun go down over  Mesquite Sand Dunes, we went back to the hotel; had dinner at their restaurant and called it a night.

Next day, it was time for more exploring in this area. We first drove over to the Badlands at Zabriskie Point, where there is a maze of badland canyons. Badlands are a rocky terrain, with lack of water and extreme temperatures that make it very difficult to traverse. Some views here

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, About Zabriskie Point
About Zabriskie Point
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Badlands of Zabriskie Point; quite beautifully sculpted
Badlands of Zabriskie Point; quite beautifully sculpted
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Waving hello at Zabriskie Point; taking a little artistic liberty; beautiful 100% natural backdrop
Waving hello at Zabriskie Point; taking a little artistic liberty; beautiful 100% natural backdrop

Panoramic views at Zabriskie Point

After this, we drove around to check out more of Death Valley; Dante’s Peak road was closed and no way to get around the roadblocks, so we missed that. Some scenes along the way

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Interesting colorful landscape
Interesting colorful landscape
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, More interesting landscapes
More interesting landscapes

I love the sand dunes; so we went back to the Mesquite Sand Dunes

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Untouched sand dunes with majestic backdrops
Untouched sand dunes with majestic backdrops
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, We hiked on the sand dunes before it got too hot
We hiked on the sand dunes before it got too hot

We then went to a site where Borax used to be mined and processed. Some scenes from here

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Borax mining in the desert
Borax mining in the desert
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Checking out original 20 Mule Team Borax wagons used to transport Borax and drinking water
Checking out original 20 Mule Team Borax wagons used to transport Borax and drinking water
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, 20 Mule Teams
20 Mule Teams

By this time, it was very hot, so we went back to the hotel/resort area at Furnace Creek. Behind the resort, we discovered the Furnace Creek Golf Course, and right next to it, was a landing airstrip for small planes. This Golf course and the airstrip were at 214ft below sea level; the lowest in the US. This is where the rich fly in, get out of their plane, jump into the waiting golf cart, play golf, have lunch at the Oasis resort, and then return on their plane the same day. What a life.

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Lowest golf course in the USA
Lowest golf course in the USA
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Golf course in the middle of Death Valley
Golf course in the middle of Death Valley

Where does the water come from? Well, there is a natural spring here; that is used to water the grass and landscape, as well as provide water for the resort and nearby settlements. Not far from this golf course, was a small settlement of the Timbisha Shoshone Indian tribe reservation (Death Valley Indian Community); which looked in very poor shape. Very sad to see the differences between the jet-setters and the neglected population.

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, The Oasis at Death Valley resort
The Oasis at Death Valley resort
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Olympic size pool and landscaping at the resort; using the natural spring here
Olympic size pool and landscaping at the resort; using the natural spring here

There were several restaurants in and around the resort where we had dinner after relaxing in the pool. Next day, we drove to Las Vegas, stopping for a very delicious lunch at the Pahrump Valley winery in Pahrump, Nevada; before continuing to Las Vegas, where we stayed one night returning the rental car at Las Vegas airport, before flying home. A most memorable trip; the natural parks and spaces in the USA are very beautiful and amazing to visit.

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Spectacular sunset over Las Vegas
Spectacular sunset over Las Vegas

Our trip

Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Yosemite portion
Yosemite portion
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Yosemite to Tecopa via Death Valley
Yosemite to Tecopa via Death Valley
Death Valley National Park, June 2020, Death Valley portion
Death Valley portion
This entry was posted in North America, USA, Yosemite & Death Valley

10 thoughts on “Death Valley National Park, June 2020

  • Salimah Virani September 12, 2022 at 10:37 am Reply

    Very nice! Just wondering if you guys camped out at Badwater Basin or there were hotels near? How much did you walk and hiked 😊

    • Ali Karim September 12, 2022 at 11:26 am Reply

      Thanks Salimah. We did not stay at Badwater Basin; there are no accommodation’s there. We stayed at a resort at Furnace Creek; which is about ~40 mins dive from Badwater Basin . RE: Hiking and walking, we did some hiking and walking, but because this area gets very hot, they advise people to stay outside until 10AM, then stay indoors. So time to hike is limited to early morning and before sunset.

  • Amir & Roshan September 5, 2022 at 8:41 pm Reply

    Very nice; enjoyed the trip with you

    • Ali Karim September 5, 2022 at 8:54 pm Reply

      Thanks Amir & Roshan; so glad you enjoyed

  • Sudarshan Singh August 29, 2022 at 4:40 pm Reply

    Ali and Dilshad,
    Enjoyed reading about you trip to Death Valley National Park and the surrounding areas. What a great experience.
    On your way to the Death Valley did you pass through Searles Lake? There is a borax factory and I have been reading about it – because of my interest in collecting minerals – Halite (pink salt crystals) which is abundant in the lake. The lake is south of the Death Valley Park – on way towards Southern California.
    After reading your trip notes I am definitely going to visit the lake and the park. I have a place in Dana Point (souther California) and when I am there later this year I will visit the Death Valley and the Searles lake. Will follow your excellent advice and plan accordingly. As always, thanks for your beautiful pictures and write up.

    • Ali Karim August 29, 2022 at 5:14 pm Reply

      Hi Sudarshan,
      Thanks for the comments and feedback. We did not get to Searles Lake, in-fact, I didn’t even know about it until you enlightened me 🙂 . Seems like an interesting place. They have tufa’s there, just like at Mono lake further north in California.I am so glad you are going to check out Death Valley; it is my goal to encourage all my readers to check out all the beautiful places on this earth for themselves.So by you deciding to go there has made me achieve my goal; one person at a time 🙂
      Enjoy

  • Ismail Awan August 28, 2022 at 7:21 am Reply

    Obviously a mind blowing experience.
    I wouldn’t dare go to such a dangerous place yet it is beautiful.
    Good for you and many thanks for sharing.

    • Ali Karim August 28, 2022 at 9:41 am Reply

      Thanks Ismail; glad you enjoyed

  • Abdulmajid August 26, 2022 at 7:25 pm Reply

    Enjoyed the virtuaL excursion

    • Ali Karim August 28, 2022 at 9:41 am Reply

      Thanks Abdul, for the feedback

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