The next morning I don’t have time to explore much I’m heading to Death Valley today down route 66 and through the Mojave and I’m excited for this. So a quick photography mission and hike to enjoy sunrise in the area behind skull rock. It actually turns out to be a good amount of climbing as it is easy to underestimate the amount of twists, turns and crevices as you go along the boulders and rocks. After a moment to take a couple of photographs it is back to camp for a quick breakfast and site breakdown before heading off into the desert.
Today I’ve have been looking forward to this portion of the trip through the Mojave to Death Valley National Park. While planning this excursion I knew this would be part of the adventure I would be looking forward to and took a route that would take me through the Mojave National Preserve as well as other wilderness areas along the approximate 4 hour drive. One of the cool attractions along this route is a brief stint of a drive down route 66.
A pit stop for a photograph and to grab a post card while at the the only gas station around for awhile in a place called Amboy where their happens to be a small museum celebrating a time of the past. The old ghost town definitely has a certain vibe to it that makes you wonder what exactly could or does go on out here. Before long it is back on the road after spending some brief time admiring the area it doesn’t take long to enter into the Mojave and the scenes of desert and wilderness grow more intense, driving here feels like you are really on your own truly on the open road. There is a large dune field here called the Kelso Dunes I took a moment to stop and check them out quickly and stretch the legs. There is a few groups of people hiking I opt to keep the camera in the bag for this spot and keep moving on along the road.
The next stop is Kelso depot a small area where an old railroad town existed in the 1920’s and now just a museum honoring a different era. This is also an intersection where if you decide to go east you can go to Vegas or like I’m traversing by going north/south through the Mojave. There is still a couple of hours of driving so I decide it is time to start heading north. It’s funny after Kelso the road seems to get even quieter if that was possible between here and Baker. It’s a nice free on your own feeling that comes with the surroundings.
Has you leave the Mojave preserve you come up on a town called Baker, California. Baker was once the place of vision has it’s pretty much the halfway point between Vegas and LA and at one point that vision was alive with a large thermometer that displays the 130 degree point as the hottest place on earth. You can see fragments of a lost era with the remainders of a forgotten Bun Boy Motel taking up an almost eire residence on the land that is used has just a fueling pit stop for most people these days. It was an interesting place to check out and was a bonus attraction along what is mostly a desolate route filled with desert and wilderness.
After Baker it is back on route 127 or also known has Death Valley Rd. This stretch of road is an ascent into the mountains that make up this area and you pass through several scenic wilderness zones like the Avawatz mountains that make for majestic views. Has I drive on the road more eventually the funeral mountains loom in the distance standing out in the vast landscape. Heading further down the road and soon passing the welcome to death valley national park sign it feels amazing to be in this pace I’ve longed to go.
My first destination is to the furnace creek campground, I’ll be here for three nights and have myself a good spot away from to many other sights so I am happy with this spot and now time to make it for sunset. The plan is to go to Badwater basin for the first time driving along the park road it is hard not to be taken back by the awe inspiring views and I stop to take a photograph or two along the way. There is a nice set of clouds filling the sky and they make for a soothing compliment to the wild scenery, after enjoying some of the area and views its off to bad water.
The area is busy as it is one of the most frequented areas of the park. The sky this evening is looking a little grey and perhaps too overcast to really get any color in the atmosphere for sunset. So I just focus on the surroundings and sheer beauty of the place, it is amazing to see such a natural feature. In reality it is pretty crazy to think I’m actually standing below sea level on crusted saltwater that has formed a maze of squares and triangles that map the terrain of the ground. The daylight fades with a cast grey that fills the sky with patterns of overcast clouds after the light fades it is back to camp for the night and there is anticipation for the next day.