Exploring Death Valley

Date: 2/19/2016
Type: Exploring, Trail Running, Sandboarding, etc...
Who went - Andrew, Kim R., Dan, Kat, Avery, Kim T., Gabrielle, Michelle, Scott, Therry, Megan, Mark, Chanel, Eric R., and Myself.
Weather - Highs in mid - 70's, lows in the high - 40's, clear skies, and a nearly full moon.

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes - Ya know - when you plan on hiking out and up a bunch of sand dunes, it's pretty awesome. But, when someone unexpectedly, hands you a semi-retired snow board (thanks again Mark), it has no choice but to become ultra-awesome®. 
Next time - more boards and more beers!

Badwater/Devil's Golf Course - This is always a must to check out. My advice is that if you have an option of going in the heat of the middle of the day, or going in the nice cool evening with a beautiful sunset to observe, I would go with the evening visit.

Ubehebe Crater - First thing I think of when I think "crater" is meteor impact, or something. And I don't even know what I think about when I hear "Ubehebe", but the thing is that this crater is not from a meteor impact, it is caused by a volcanic eruption a couple thousand years ago. What's really weird is that there are at least three craters, so I don't know if there were three eruptions? I should have read the big sign thingy that gave all these answers. But anyway, it's really cool to check out and I would highly advise hiking/running down into it!

Darwin Falls - So, when we asked a local about the Darwin Falls and where to find them, we were told - "It's only about 20 feet tall and not really much to look at". And after I had a few minutes to think about it, I thought - "Ok, we just drove over an hour to get here, so I want to see something interesting"! But I also thought - "Ya know, almost everything to be found in Death Valley isn't really that spectacular until you consider that it is located in the middle of the lowest and hottest place in North America. Suddenly, a 20 foot waterfall oasis thingy is really pretty dang cool"! So, we hiked the mile or so to the waterfall, and you know what? It was pretty dang cool!

The Racetrack (The Playa) - When you head out to "The Racetrack", be prepared for an hour or so ride on washboard roads, that can leave you thinking - "Man these moving rocks better be worth it"! Well, it was! But the shocks on the Expedition may have another opinion. Afterward, the ride home was a bit more bouncy. They may need to be replaced soon, but to be honest, they probably needed to be replaced anyway. Anyway, there really are rocks out there that have left tracks as if they moved on there own. There are many theories ranging from Aliens to freak winds to just plain magic, but here is a link to the "official" explanation. Personally, I am going to keep believing in the Alien theory.

Getting out to The Racetrack - From the "If I knew then what I know now category": When I found out that 4WD was not completely necessary to get out there, I thought - "Great, now more vehicles can get out there (even Andrew and his Civic, if he had brought it)". But after driving for an hour on a total washboard dirt road, I would have to say that you really should not take your everyday driver out there. Even if it has AWD, 4WD, or even just high-clearance. It is a very rough ride and we saw a couple off-road trucks lose tires to rock punctures. My shocks are not the same.
Special note - I am officially buying a tire repair kit and bringing a tire inflator out on any kind of "drive" like this again. Getting stuck out there can ruin your day! Also, just want to acknowledge Dan's beyond-the-call-of-duty effort to get a stranded truck back to civilization. He rescued there truck and their day! Karma points going your way.

Oh yeah! - I almost forgot to mention that this year there was a "Super Bloom" of flowers and stuff. It really added some incredible color to a pretty barren (but cool) place.

Tips and Tricks
  • For five bucks you can get a shower and a dip in the pool next door at the Furnace Creek Resort. 
  • If you are staying at Furnace Creek, fill up the gas tank at the station next door before you go anywhere in the park. It's a big park and very few gas options available.
  • The drive out to the racetrack is pretty long, nearly offroad, and away from any cell coverage. Make sure your vehicle can handle the drive and that your spare is in good condition. We saw a few vehicles (4x4s) with flats (some had a spare that also got flat).


  • TBA
  • Death Valley Super Bloom video.

See you out there!