These days Death Valley is not for the faint of heart. With place names like Devil’s Golf Course and Furnace Creek, you can bank on a visit to hell and back when you stop by this California national park in summer. Thinking cool thoughts…
One hundred years ago a temperature of 56.6°C was recorded in this very place, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the world. As the lowest point in North America (86m below sea level), you can expect some pretty wild (and dry) landscapes. It’s a land of extremes that sees fewer than 5cm of rain each year.
Visiting Death Valley
Let’s be honest, if temperatures are pushing the high-forties, you won’t be spending too much time outside your air-conditioned rental car. Two hours is enough time to explore the park a bit and see some pretty incredible places. The most popular drive in Death Valley is the Badwater Road which passes Devil’s Golf Course and Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. You can also take the Artist’s Drive back to HWY 190. If you continue east, don’t miss Zabriskie Point, the most popular lookout over the badlands and if you continue west, the sand dunes are a good place to stop.
Devil’s Golf Course – this vast plain looks like it’s studded with golf balls from outer space. They are in face rock salt, eroded by wind and rain to form jagged spires. They’re also extremely fragile and take years to reform to best not to wander too far off the road.
Zabriskie Point – this is one of the park’s most famous viewpoints over the badlands and is a great place to watch both the sunrise and the sunset. It’s located east of Furnace Creek and can be reached on foot.
Artist’s Drive – this loop road will take you through some amazing volcanic and sediment hills coloured hues of green, purple and gold. For the best light, visit in the late afternoon. The road is 9 miles long and is only one-way, starting from Badwater Road.