Overland exploration of Death Valley

While Zoe sleeps for the long, cold winter in the Med, we are here in the States. After a number of family events and holiday gatherings, we decided we were much overdue for an adventure. Next stop….head out and explore Death Valley by Jeep and Turtleback trailer.   This combo is perfect for the rugged 4×4 trails that the largest National Park in the lower 48 states is known for.  It’s a great park to explore in a 4 x 4 vehicle because of the dramatic changes in scenery within the park. The landscape goes from the mountain peaks towering up over 10,000 feet to the lowest point in North America, Badwater basin at 282 feet below sea level.

We enjoyed the trip, but we were quite surprised to find ourselves camping in the 20’s (-4 C) at night.  One morning we woke up to a frost covered tent…..INSIDE! Unfortunately, the high mountain passes were snowed in and icy.  We ended up aborting Dan’s goal of driving Lippincott pass to Saline Valley after talking to the rangers at the visitor center.  They said it was very icy at the pass and to drive it alone, like we were planning on doing, was extremely ill-advised.  Good to know 🙂   We ended up skipping the pass to Saline Valley in the hopes of returning one Spring to try again. So much for the “hottest place on earth”.

This coyote is a long, long way from any water. What a treat to come across him randomly in the wilds of Badwater
You can see why this stretch of Death Valley is called Artist’s Palette. What amazing colors…
The transformer toy of trailer campers about to expand out into a base camp with a week’s worth of fresh water, hot water heater, solar power, shower, propane heater, bathroom, kitchen and queen size bed
Titus Canyon Jeep trail
Through Titus Canyon
Inyo Ghost mine, high in the mountains in Death Valley
Inyo mine entrance. This mine must have been built by dwarves for dwarves. It was about five feet tall in there.
The mine was bored straight into the mountain
Inyo Mine abandoned cabin
Inyo Mine processing equipment
At the top of Inyo mine. Great Death Valley views.
Descent from Inyo mine…it was pretty steep!
Echo Canyon Jeep trail
Exploring Twenty Mule team canyon
Twenty mue team canyon
Shadow boxing in the canyon 🙂
Zabriskie Point
Headed to next campsite at Racetrack Playa
Teakettle Junction
Mysterious sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa. They leave a path dozens of feet long in their wake as they slide across the flats of the Playa.
We were treated to an impromptu airshow of F-18s engaged in low altitude simulated dog fighting (like something out of Top Gun). When it was finished, they topped up from a KC-135 tanker and left. Fun to watch!

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