Death Valley is a two hour drive west of Vegas. I had wanted to go to Death Valley for a while now so we decided to tack a there and back for the last night of our roadtrip.
We pulled into theFurnace Creek Visitors center at 10:30 am and it was 119* on their digital thermometer. It was fucking hot, the kind of heat that you feel all over your body at once. Its coming from the sun, its radiating off the dry earth, its bouncing back and forth between the dark mountains on either side. Being the lowest point in North America at -282 ft, the air pressure holds the heat in like a hellish solar oven. My parents used to have a solar oven that was a fiberglass box with fold out metal reflectors, a glass window and black interior. You put it out in the yard and it could cook a chicken in 6 hours.
To do any real hiking you have to come during the winter or head up to higher elevations. We were content to drive around in AC comfort, hopping out for as long as we could stand it. We had seen a lot of good road and landscapes on this trip, but Death Valley takes the cake in my opinion (sorry about all the road pics). Badwater Basin, Salt Flats, Artists Drive and Artist Palette. We also headed out of the park to Ryolite, NV. Saw some strange sculptures and a ghost town from the mining boom in the early 1900s.
Dropping back down into Death Vally we encountered a dirt devil swirling across the road and also virga over the sand dunes. Virga is the phenomenon of rain evaporating before it hits the ground. A wall of vapor rose from over the sand dunes. The mesquite flat sand dunes were one of my favorite places of our trip. The sand is very fine, but packed into dense dunes by the wind. As we walked out into the sand, the mesquite gradually disappeared and
Hoping it would cool down at night we camped at Furnace creek, it did not. At dawn it was still in the 90s. But we survived to tell about it.