November 16-18, 2017

Artists Palette Death Valley National Park CaliforniaArtists Drive Death Valley National Park

As the weather deteriorated at Alabama Hills, in other words snow on the Sierras, it was time to get to warmer climate like Death Valley at or below sea level.  But their is that matter of CA190 east climbing not one but two mountain ranges to get there.

double rainbow low clouds Alabama Hills BLM Lone Pine CaliforniaThe clouds hung low obscuring the Eastern Sierras from view but right before leaving I was gifted with a double rainbow.

CA190 East CaliforniaFollowed by a desert wind on the nose with sandy salts flowing across the road from Lake Owens.  The first pass over the Inyo Mountains helped reduce the wind.  Sure glad I didn’t need fuel in Panamint Springs at $4.99/gal for diesel.

wind blown sand Panamint Valley CaliforniaThen a wicked south wind in Panamint Valley nearly knocked me off the road with a sand blasting strong enough to obliterate much of the view.  Remember this is blowing on the side of the camper like a billboard going down the road and on the fridge side so the pilot blew out.

Panamint Mountains CA190 East Death Valley National Park CaliforniaThis followed by another climb into clearer air in the Panamint Range and back down into Death Valley with a little less wind.

Artists Drive Death Valley National Park California

Artists Drive Death Valley National Park CaliforniaStayed the first night at Texas Springs, my favorite of all the parking lot campgrounds in the park.  After snagging my campsite I took the Artists Drive which was closed last winter and is now newly paved with maybe some more parking areas along the one way road.

sunrise Texas Spring campground Death Valley National Park CaliforniaAfter sunrise I moved to the Stovepipe Wells campground where I would meet friend and fellow Ranger Jeremy late in the afternoon.

motorbikes tents sand storm mountains Stovepipe Wells campground Death Valley National Park CaliforniaThe tent area was filling fast along the northern edge of this parking lot camp.  Because I’m considered a RV I can’t park along that side but can be nearby along a curb.  So I paid for a tent site, hung the receipt and hunkered in watching the dust and sand fly up the valley to the east.  It appeared to be moving north away from me but then turned and headed towards camp.  I closed the door and windows and hung on tight.  Even inside the camper felt like a sand storm.  People were grabbing and abandoning tents for their cars.  Like a haboob I guess.  Not a great day to take photos.

sandstorm sunset Stovepipe Wells campground Death Valley National Park CaliforniaDusty sunset

Jeremy got in after dark, took me to dinner, stayed up most of the night watching meteors—saw 11 of them—and in the morning slept in his car instead of fighting the wind to set up his tent.

Keane Wonder Mine Death Valley National Park California

aerial tramway Keane Wonder Mine Death Valley National Park CaliforniaThe next day we visited the recently reopened Keane Wonder Mine with it’s unique mile-long aerial tramway.

Jeremy Visitor Center Death Valley National Park CaliforniaWhile Jeremy worked on his Junior Ranger book I watched a volunteer demonstrate flint knapping in the visitor center courtyard.  I earned my Death Valley Junior Ranger badge a few years ago.

Mesquite dunes sunset mountains Death Valley National Park CaliforniaMade a quick stop by the Mesquite Sand Dunes but it was getting late and Jeremy planned to BBQ dinner, which he is very good at, so we returned to camp.

Daylight Pass Road CA NV borderAnd in the morning we both took off our separate ways, me to drive up Mud Canyon on the Daylight Pass Road to explore the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada.