Tuesday, June 17, 2014

the hottest place on earth: death valley

to get from antelope canyon to bishop, california you don't have to drive through death valley, but why wouldn't you? it only adds 30 minutes to your drive, which seems totally worth it when you think about the fact that not only can you check off another national park from your list, but you also have the opportunity to see both the lowest and highest points in the (contiguous) united states.

death valley, situated on the border of nevada and california, is the lowest and driest area in north america. the badlands basin, which boasts an annual rainfall of 2 inches, is 282 feet below sea level and has reported temperatures of up to 134ºF. unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your idea of fun, it was a cool 78ºF when we drove through the park. (i know, how boring.)

the drive through the park is quite a nice one, if you're not the one driving! the views are stunning, from the salt flats to the marbled hills to the sierra nevadas in the distance, but if you're driving you have too much to concentrate on to really enjoy the view. we started in nevada and drove west and at first the road wasn't too bad; it was straight and downhill. but once you pass the lowest points, it's time to climb again, because just on the other side of death valley sits the sierra nevada mountains and mt whitney, the highest point in the contiguous united states at 14,505 feet. the road turns insanely curvy, with each switchback giving a 180º view of land below. it's absolutely spectacular!

once you've exited the park, and turned right at owen lake, a dry slat flat that once was a lake, don't forget to stop at the eastern sierra visitor center on the southern edge of lone pine. the views of the mountains are amazing!

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