I’ll go ahead and say it- Death Valley was not as hot as I was expecting it to be. Granted, it was still pretty hot, and if there hadn’t been any wind it would’ve been a LOT hotter, but it wasn’t the worst. And to be fair we also didn’t spend much time out of the car because of the dog – HE was definitely hot. But he’s always hot if it’s over 65 degrees… spoiled turd.
It was also, surprisingly enough, pretty green (by Death Valley standards) on the way into the park. It’s been close to 20 years since I’ve been to Death Valley, and I had no real memory of the place beyond Scotty’s Castle (which is currently closed for restoration after some massive flooding a few years ago). I’m quite certain that in the week after we left, everything green mostly died, as it was over 100 degrees every single day after we were there. Good timing!
We made a quick stop at the Furnace Creek visitor center to get our stamp (I had to actually ask for it, which was really bizarre, normally they’re out on display). Quick pro tip though- if you need gas in Death Valley, don’t go to freaking Furnace Creek. It’s SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper in Stovepipe Wells. Like, 40-50 cents a gallon cheaper. Thankfully we didn’t need to get any gas in the park, but we still wanted to pass along the info because a 50 cent difference in less than 10 miles is just freaking absurd to me.
After our brief stop at the visitor center, we headed down to Badwater Basin to experience the lowest point in North America. The drive there was pretty in its own way, like the rest of Death Valley. There is a certain kind of beauty in that kind of desolation.
After that short little jaunt, we headed out of the park to get going home. Some people probably think that we didn’t really experience Death Valley when we were only there for 3 hours max, but 1. It’s hard to do it with a pet when it’s hot and all you have is a car, 2. It’s hot, 3. We have to go back anyways when Scotty’s Castle reopens in a couple of years, so spending a ton of time here wasn’t huge on our priority list. It was just on the way home (sort of), so why not? I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “wrong” way to experience a park.
Our Death Valley National Park “Must Do”:
Badwater Basin, obviously. You really can’t miss it, and it’s seriously so insanely accessible (the sign is like, 10 yards from the parking area) there’s not really any excuse for not going there.