We awoke on Day 5 outside Echo Canyon to cool temperatures and overcast skies. We left the trailer at the campsite for our travels this day. After breakfast Ralph and Joene decided to move into the RV park a day early. We followed them down to Furnace Creek and got some good info for ourselves since we were going to move in the next day.
We then all headed east on Hwy 127 to Zabriskie Point to the overlook. This was quite an amazing spot to stop and see. I would have loved to hike over to Golden Canyon and back if we would have had the time. Since we had our dog with us, hiking was out of the question this day.
From there we continued east to 20 Mule Canyon. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this little drive but it was interesting. Not a lot to see or do but there is a hike from this road if one has the time. We would have checked it out had we not had our dog with us as they are not allowed on the trails.
We came back up Hwy 127 and headed south to Golden Canyon. We hiked into it about 20 minutes or so and checked it out. Not as spectacular as Zabriskie Point but worth the visit. This is the other side of Zabriskie Point, by the way. You can start at either end and hike from one to the other.
Then we headed south some more to the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin. Shelley and I have stood on top of the highest point, Denali, in 2011. Now we have stood at the the lowest point as well. We walked out into the salt flat to check it out as well.
If you look closely in the photo above, inside that red circle you can see the marker denoting sea level. We thought that was a nice touch from the Park Service to put that up high on the cliff.
As we drove back north, we stopped at the Devil’s Golf Course. There are a number of places to see the Devil’s Golf Course. There is the tourist spot just north of Badwater Basin. We did stop there. But there is a better spot to see it off of the West Side Road. We saw this spot off West Side Road the day before when we drove out to our failed campsite. So we went back there again, this time to stop and see it better. Less tourists and less trampled areas of the ground. There was a water pipe under the roadway here which was full of salt. You could see how the water ran down this valley, through the pipes under the road and continued on. But when it dried up, it left behind this white salt where ever the water had flowed. Very cool area.
The above photo shows the tourist area with all the rocks making up the “golf course.”
The above photo is off of West Side Road. That white in the background is the salt strip where the water had ran down the valley. I’m standing on the road way with the pipes below me allowing the water to flow under the road.
We saved the best spot for last. We wanted the afternoon light to be on Artist Drive so we saved it for last. It didn’t disappoint. I only included four photos here, but really this place is spectacular. You can stand back at the overlooks and take all of it in and you can also walk down into the slot canyons and walk around among the rocks. After we went back to our campsite, Ralph came back later in the evening and took more photos of the area as the sun was setting.
After Artist Drive, Ralph and Joene headed back to their camp and we headed back to Echo Canyon. We got in early enough to relax with some tasty beverages, a fine cigar and just watch the sun go down.
The next morning it was our turn to move into the RV park. After moving in and dropping our trailer, we wanted to get a couple other sightseeing stops in before it got too hot. So we drove north up to see the Salt Creek Boardwalk and the Harmony Flats Borax Works.
Death Valley just kept surprising me. I would never had guessed that there were fish living in some of the creeks that flowed year around in Death Valley. But, there in front of me, were little pupfish swimming around in the creek at the Salt Creek Boardwalk.
I could not image working the Borax flats for $1.37 a day in Death Valley 10 months out of the year. The work shut down in July and August. Still, that’s pretty awful work if you ask me. But 100’s of men did so. And did it for a couple years. I kind of like to think that once word got out about how terrible the job was, workers simply stopped showing up for work after the 2-month long summer break. But who knows.
The 3-car wagon train on display is an example of what was used to take the Borax to market. That set up was pulled by 20 mules and became a symbol of the borax industry. That wagon car was for the mules.
We stopped by the visitor center as well. Did some reading of their displays and spent some cash along the way. It was a very nice visitor center.
Then it was back to the RV park for refitting. It was now May 3 and this would be our first showers since April 27. Along with showers, we needed to do laundry. This RV park was the only one nearby that had a laundry facility, which is why we chose it. Across the street was a RV dump station and fresh drinking water. So we dumped our toilet and filled our trailer’s water tank and all our water jerry cans in preparation for the Mojave the next day.
This little resort was stayed at was pretty nice. The diner was okay, nothing fancy, but the grounds and services were good. It also has the lowest golf course in the United States. And the sunsets were pretty spectacular.
By dinner, we were all set. Ralph and Joene joined us for one last meal back at Stove Pipe Wells. They were going to head off in another direction and not follow us into the Mojave.
It was great traveling with them. We talked about when and where we would be in the Mojave and hoped to cross paths at one of those over night stops if it fit with their time table. They were eventually on their way to Escalante. It was great they took a week out of their trip to meet up with us and do some traveling together.
The next morning, Shelley and I had an early start. Up at 0530, breakfast at the RV park’s diner at 0600 and on the road by 0700. We knew it would be a long day and wanted to make sure we built in enough time for any contingencies.
First, we had to head to Barstow for groceries and gas. There just isn’t a whole lot of choice or options in Baker for either, so we went to Barstow. Our starting point for the Mojave was that direction so there wasn’t much in the way of back-tracking. As a bonus, Barstow has a Starbucks.
We stopped at Starbucks, filled up the Tundra and the four jerry cans with gas and then hit Walmart for groceries. While Shelley stayed with the trailer in the parking lot, I collected the groceries.
Then it was back onto the Interstate to start the Mojave Road. We pulled out of Walmart around noon on May 4th and headed east on I-15 and took the Harvard Rd exit (206). Then took Yerma Rd to Alvord Mountain Rd and turned right into the dirt. We may have gotten lucky here. Yerma Rd was completely closed beginning at the intersection with Alvord Mountain Rd.
Our plan was to spend our first night somewhere in Afton Canyon.