I have a hard time slowing down. Sometimes I worry that I won’t be able to truly appreciate a place while I’m there because I get so caught up in seeing more. On my most recent trip to Death Valley, these were the same worries I had. Scott and I decided the day before that we were going to take the four-hour drive to the park.
We got lucky and found a cheap AirBnB in Northern Las Vegas for a whopping $45. Not bad for a hot shower and comfy bed! Usually for last minute trips like this, we wake up at a very unreasonable time for any human to be awake. This time, though, we went slow. We woke up around 6am and were on the road by 6:30am. By the time we arrived at Death Valley NP, we knew there was so much to see! While we didn’t get to see everything on our list, here’s what we saw with the six hours we had there.
The colors of the rocks on Artist Drive are what attracted us there. While the sun washed out most of their vibrancy by the time we got there, we were still amazed at how like ice cream this landscape looked. Pinks, purples and blues filled the ground, leaving us in awe. Who knew minerals in the ground could create something so beautiful? If you’re planning on going here, I recommend visiting at dawn, so you could see the colors at their best!
This hike was more of a “just for fun” activity. The Natural Bridge is an arch located in the park and can get a bit busy to say the least. However, if you’re in the area you have no reason to miss this spot! We met a nice women there that was chatting us up about photography and such. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a new friend there too! Okay, maybe not but the optimism doesn’t hurt. If you’re up for it, you can take a very short but strenuous climb to the upper viewpoint to get a new perspective of the bridge.
Welcome to the lowest point below sea level! Seriously. They even have a sign on the mountain behind the parking lot to show you just how low you really are. Nice way of making you feel small. Badwater Basin is a popular area and a must see in the park. While it does get a bit crowded, the area is so vast that it’s easy to get away from other folks. This is a great spot for both sunrise and sunset. In photos it looks like you’re walking on water! It's actually salt, by the way.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
This was the one place we wanted to see on our trip. I’m not sure why Scott and I think sand is so cool, but hey, I’m not complaining. The sunset here was nothing short of amazing. I will say that getting there ten minutes before the sun went down and having to run half a mile across the dunes wasn’t the best idea, but it got the job done. While the sand isn’t hard enough to sled down, it’s perfect for sitting and thinking about absolutely nothing. This was my favorite spot in the park simply because we got to just be there. No more rushing around, no more sprinting spot to spot. It was just us and the sand… and that grasshopper that decided to fly into Scott’s hair (Funniest. Thing. Ever).
Our trip ended with a visit to Valley of Fire just to say we’ve been there. I was worried that I wouldn’t get to appreciate these places, but I left here feeling so grateful for being able to explore such beautiful landscapes. Running down the road of Valley of Fire made me laugh and realize that maybe we can all think a little less and just be. Wouldn’t that be so much easier?
This blog was written by Mtn Chicks Founder, Dani. You can get these blogs and our events sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter. Leave a comment and let us know what you would do with a day in your favorite National Park!
Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.