I don't know what I was expecting from a place called Death Valley but somehow I was still shocked by the conditions in the park. At the visitors center we stood beside a sign that read 119 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easily one of the hottest temperatures I've ever experienced. Why we had to visit at the hottest time of the year is beyond me but I'm definitely glad we went. It still blows my mind that just a day before we were on the coast where I was worried I hadn't brought enough warm clothes.
We did a lot of driving in Death Valley National Park, and not too much else since we're both absolute babies in the heat. One of the few spots we stopped was at Mesquite Sand Dunes. It was insanely hot. So hot that I could feel the heat through my shoes which I thought was crazy. After roaming around in the sand a bit shooting photos we scurried back to the car. We sat down, turned on the air, chugged some water, and realized there was a funny smell in the car.
"Do you smell burning rubber?"
"I think it might be my shoes...?"
Lifts foot as close to face as possible in the car. "Yep!"
That sand was so hot our shoes were actually melting. The park's brochure actually said of the eighteen heat related deaths in the park sine 2000 three of them occurred in the sand dunes. My photos don't really seem to capture the size of the dunes and just how expansive the area was. But to see this place in person and experience heat that oppressive that fact really isn't all that shocking.
The goal was to not spend too much time in the park since we needed to get out of the area before we got too tired. Every other night that we had tried to sleep in the car this trip it was miserable. The last thing we wanted was to be sleeping in the car in this heat. After the dunes we cruised to the visitor center to get stamps in our National Parks passport. We sat inside looking over the other main parts of the park trying to figure out what else we wanted to see. Death Valley National Park is massive, it actually has more miles of roads than any other national park. Sadly everything else we were interested in visiting suggested having some sort of fancy pants all terrain tire that our rental most definitely didn't have. Guess we'll just have to go back another time to see The Racetrack...
We made one last stop in the park, at Zabriskie Point. You walk up this steep hill to the an overlook where no matter which way you turn there is a gorgeous view. It kind of seemed like all the other visitors in the park that day we're following the same agenda as us - only get out of the car when absolutely necessary. This overlook, and the visitor center were the only place we really saw anyone else. Even with the crowd at Zabriskie Point it was a perfect last stop. It was so beautiful you could easily just tune everyone else out.
Right outside of the park there were tons of abandoned buildings. It was a busy-ish area and a great majority of them were fenced off so we passed. We did manage to find another outside the fenced area that we stopped at. Just a small shell of a building but I love the photos of it nonetheless. I actually have a whole post of abandoned things we visited in the desert that I'll share another day. The desert is a wonderful place!
You can find more posts from our road trip under the "travel" tag.