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I had read that Death Valley was big.  I knew Death Valley was big.  I knew that it was over 5,000 feet between the valley floor and some view points.  But until I saw it, it didn’t sink in.  It is impressive. And I only saw a portion of Death Valley.

I happened to be in Death Valley during a hot period.  Highs near 85 degrees.  Too hot to leave the dogs behind or in the truck except for early in the morning.   So most of my exploring was by driving.  I thought of this as my introduction and recon trip to Death Valley; saving places to explore for the next trip. Here are a few things I saw.

The Keane Wonder Mill site

I stopped at the Salt Creek Boardwalk. Fortunately a man there told me how to find the pupfish. He told me to look for the fish’s shadow. Sure enough, I found the shadow and then saw the fish. Here is a photo of the shadow and fish. Hopefully you can see them both.


Artist Drive is a one way road which goes by some interesting geologic formations. I drove it mid week and there were few people on the road and at the stops. My parking lot campground neighbor drove it on Saturday and said it was terrible – too many people.

Artist Drive

And then there was Titus Canyon Road to explore. It was the most recommended thing that I should do. I didn’t even think to question what the road was like. The road is so popular that “everyone” drives it. And it has a ghost town, petroglyphs, and the breccia rock – stuff I like. Off I went to drive the one way road which starts near Rhyolite. All was happy until I saw the road ahead cut into the hill side. Oh crap. For those that have read some of my prior post you will know that I have an irrational fear of roads with a sharp drop off on one side.

Titus Canyon Road. The road ahead of me.

I had to drive it. The road is one way. My stomach started to knot and I started up the road, looking only at the road and never looking right or left. And I drove really slow. I eventually got to Red Pass and then realized that there was more bad road ahead going down. Darn. I started inching my way down the back side of Red Pass. Onward I drove knowing that every foot forward was a foot behind me. Fortunately no one came up behind me so I could take my time and not feel hurried. And then finally I was on the canyon floor. Finally.

In the canyon, I slowed down and enjoyed the sights. The canyon is deep with interesting rocks. Onward. Then (finally) I came to the breccia. It really is incredible.

The breccia.

And then I was outside of the canyon and the Titus Canyon Road drive was behind me.

The next morning I left the parking lot campground early to go see Mosaic Canyon. Walking through Mosaic Canyon early in the morning was special.  Although there were a few cars in the parking lot when I arrived, I didn’t see the people attached to the cars.  The only sound I heard was from my foot steps.  I had the canyon and rocks to myself – to see, feel, and think about.  It was special. After I turned around and headed out, other people were starting to venture into the canyon and were talking to each other. The entire ambiance had changed. Now I was walking in “just another canyon.”

Go early to visit the canyon and have it to yourself.

Mosaic Canyon

And lastly I drove the Twenty Mule Team Road. It was an interesting drive, but I was wishing I could have gotten out for a walk. With the high temperatures I couldn’t leave my dogs in the truck. Next trip there will be hopefully more walking and less driving.

Twenty Mule Team Road

The Facts

  • I had heard that there was no cell service in Death Valley.  It is true, there is no cell service anywhere (that I found) except for poor service at Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek.  At those two locations I could receive and send text and emails, and sometime get the NOAA weather internet page.   I could make a phone call.   But I could not sent out an email with a picture.