Exploring Death Valley National Park: Day 2
After a wet and windy second night of camping, we packed up our campsite and headed out for a final day of exploring and driving the 5 hours back home. We stopped at the Furnace Springs General Store for a couple more gallons of water - definitely a little overpriced, but convenient. The people working inside are friendly and helpful and you can get more than food and drinks. They have a good selection of souvenir type stuff if you like trinkets and t-shirts. We also stopped at the Ranger Station to check on road conditions since there was rain and a lot of very strong wind overnight. Everything was clear, so we got some slightly overpriced gas at the tiny gas station (totally worth it in this massive park) and headed north onto Scotty's Castle Road.
We stopped several times on the way up this road, which was incredibly deserted. There are lots of pull-off places to photograph the landscape, blowing sand dunes and the road ahead of us. Our first planned stop was at Titus Canyon. We drove up the two way portion to the parking lot and then headed into the canyon on foot.
Titus Canyon is a 27 mile long "high-clearance vehicle" backcountry road that starts on Daylight Pass Road and goes one-way back into the park through the Grapevine Mountains and into a spectacular canyon ending at Scotty's Castle Road.
From there, we continued North towards Ubehebe Crater. We made a small detour and checked out Mesquite Springs Campground for a future camping option (especially when we have a vehicle to go down the racetrack). At the time of our visit, the Visitor Center and Scotty's Castle was closed due to the flooding in October 2015. As of March 2016, it is still closed. There was a lot of damage to this northern end of the park, and many roads are washed out completely. The Mesquite Springs campground is quite big, being the largest of the campgrounds outside of the Furnace Creek area with 30 sites. It has flush toilets and dump station for RVs. It is also open year round, so if you do dare to brave the heat in the summer, this is an option without going up into the mountains. Personally, we preferred the "style" of this campground. It has a bit more privacy between sites and doesn't seem to be a parking lot, like most of the other campgrounds in Death Valley.
We eventually made it to our final stop up North - Ubehebe Crater. It is absolutely worth the drive up to this more remote part of the park. The wind was fierce at the crater, so we weren't able to make the little trek all the way around it. We've heard that if you go early in the morning, the wind is much calmer, but often in the afternoons, it is not safe to go around the edges. The landscape at this end of the park is worth the visit - the volcanic activity from thousands of years ago has left a very different landscape.
On our way back to the 190 to head home, we decided to take a quick bathroom break at the Mesquite Sand Dunes. We also took a short trek out into the sand. It's gorgeous, and again, a completely different landscape. Be careful if it is windy - you'll have sand in your eyes, mouth, camera, everywhere.
all photos taken by Andrea and Kim
Cameras: Nikon D750, Mamiya 645, Canon AE-1
Film: Portra 400, Lomography Redscale