This was not my first trip to Death Valley. The first time, was with my family when I was a child, but I remember how hot it was!
I wouldn’t call this a dream destination by any means, but it is part of California, and I was game to check it out again, as an adult.
The largest national park outside of Alaska, Death Valley is an almost unfathomable place. The Park’s 3.3 million acres encompass mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-level salt flats, mysterious singing rocks, and colorful sandstone canyons. Extremes are the norm: Death Valley is the hottest and driest place in America, with summer temperatures peaking above 120 F° and average rainfall a mere two inches per year. Also extreme are the park’s elevations: Bad Water Basin rests at 282 feet below sea level, while Telescope Peak soars to 11,049 feet above sea level. So, go high, or go very, very low; get hot, or chill out with amazing desert vistas. Death Valley delivers on every end of the scale. Even though Death Valley’s summer temps are uninviting, from late fall into spring its climate is just about perfect. These are the months to explore the park’s remarkably diverse desert landscapes: enormous sand dunes, rugged badlands, expansive salt flats, and serpentine canyons. Driving distances are vast, so give yourself ample time to get from one destination to the next.
Entering Furnace Canyon
A bit of an oasis
Harmony Borax Works was the central feature in the opening of Death Valley and the subsequent popularity of the Furnace Creek area. The plant and associated townsite played an important role in Death Valley history. After borax was found near Furnace Creek Ranch; then called Greenland, in 1881, William T. Coleman built the Harmony plant and began to process ore in late 1883 or early 1884. When in full operation, the Harmony Borax Works employed 40 men who produced three tons of borax, daily. During the summer months, when the weather was so hot that processing water would not cool enough to permit the suspended borax to crystallize, Coleman moved his work force to the Amargosa Borax Plant near present day Tecopa, California. Getting the finished product to market from the heart of Death Valley was a difficult task, and an efficient method had to be devised. The Harmony operation became famous through the use of large mule teams and double wagons which hauled borax the long overland route to Mojave. The romantic image of the “20-Mule Team persists to this day and has become the symbol of the borax industry in this country. The Harmony plant went out of operation in 1888, after only five years of production, when Coleman’s financial empire collapsed. Aquired by Francis Marion Smith, the works never resumed the boiling of cottonball borate ore, and in time became part of the borax reserves of the Pacific Coast Borax Company and it successors. On December 31, 1974, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places
Here is a link a bout the Mule Teams of history https://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/historyculture/twenty-mule-teams.htm
Snow-capped mountains in the distance. Quite a contrast to the heat of the day
A plaque by the side of the road
Thought I saw a dog, from a distance
I so wish we had a big, fat, juicy hamburger to give to this coyote. He looked rough! Such a harsh environment to be born into We literally drove to a stop in the middle of the road, so we did not hit this poor fella. Daryl had a theory; This coyote has learned how to “beg.” When cars stop, perhaps they toss out food, just like I wanted to!