I’m a little embarrassed about how long it’s taken me to write these Death Valley posts…I mean we took the trip in MARCH for crying out loud! Do any of you out there have any advice for making the time to really sit down and write? Do you schedule it into your week or daily routine? Let me know!
But without further ado, here is the recap of our third and final day in Death Valley National Park:
Since I’m not a huge fan of driving in the dark, we knew that we wanted to get an early start on our last day to maximize our time in the park and still get back to LA before it was completely dark out. So we got up early, filled up our coffee to go, and made our way to Zabriskie Point. Zabriskie Point is known for it’s gorgeous canyon colors that form sort of stripes all along the rock faces. There are a lot of trails that go off from this point, with easy parking so that’s a double bonus, but we chose just to enjoy the lookout point since we had other things we wanted to do.
Our initial plan was to hike a trail at Desolation Canyon … which is pretty much the perfect name for this “trail.” The sign off the road for Desolation Canyon may be the smallest sign I’ve ever seen … we drove past it twice! Once we got there we were the only car in the lot, although the lot is just a wide open dirt area. We headed off in the direction of the trail but soon found that there wasn’t much trail at all, and virtually no shade cover…so we used our best judgement and turned back around. We just honestly weren’t feeling this one much, and we didn’t want to risk getting lost in the desert on our last day in the park! Maybe next time we’ll give this one another go with a little more research beforehand…
So instead, we made our way to Golden Canyon and the Red Rock Cathedral. And after completing this hike, I think we’ve found that we have a knack for choosing the best hikes to finish out our NP trips! We loved this hike. The initial 1.5 mile trail to the Red Rock Cathedral is heavily populated with people, but once you decide to climb through rock tunnels and up to the lookout point, you won’t run into many people. And the lookout is beautiful. It’s a little scary coming down, only because of the steepness, but if you have good tread on your shoes, you’ll be fine. Jim and I sat at the top and pulled out some snacks and talked to another pair of hikers who were up there at the same time.
After we made our way back down to the trail, we decided to veer off onto the Gower Gulch / Badlands Loop, which would ultimately loop us back to our car in about a 7-mile hike. This sounded like the perfect way to end our time in the park and to prepare us for the car ride home. This part of the hike was the most surprising part, and I think maybe why it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. The first part of the trail took us up and over these almost mustard-yellow canyons … the trails were narrow and the views were out of this world. This part was definitely the most sun-exposed section. But then it dipped us into old riverbeds which had a lot more shade, and it felt like every time we rounded a corner we were in a completely new place! The very last lookout before hiking back to the car truly took my breath away as the purple mountains way way far away peaked through. It felt like a painting. If you’re ever in the park and looking for a really great mid-distance hike, I recommend this one. I really counted myself lucky in that moment to be in such a beautiful place … I was so glad that the morning ended up leading us here!
When we reached our car, we treated ourselves to some sandwiches from the cooler, drank lots of water, and then headed out of the park! It’s important to fuel up inside the park, because it’s quite a bit a ways before you reach the next town. Cell service is also pretty much non-existent, so bring a map and have a good idea of where you’re going. Don’t venture off road if you don’t have a spare tire and plenty of food and water with you … you always need to be prepared in the desert, no matter what time of year it is! –the temperatures are always drastically changing. The drive back to LA is a pretty seamless one … Jim and I split the driving, which always makes it easier. And now we’re pretty much regulars at the one McDonalds along the way … ha! 😉
I am so beyond grateful for these siblings trips with my brother, Jim. He was just out earlier this month and we completed our fifth National Park together … Yosemite! I think we have a fewwww smaller National Parks within driving distance, but pretty soon we’re gonna have to take these trips out of state! As funny as it might be to say, it’s hard to find the perfect travel / hiking companion! After all, you’re spending lots of time in the car together and then lots of time on the trail together … you’ve got to really get along! I’m thankful for his easy-goingness and his ability to either keep a conversation or to enjoy the beauty of nature in silence. Just overall, really stinkin’ grateful to have a best friend in him.
And that finally wraps up my Death Valley posts! I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos, and I hope I’ve inspired some of you to see the beauty in the desert and plan a trip for yourself!
thanks for stopping by!