CA – Death Valley National Park, Dante’s Ridge

I met a couple while hiking to Darwin Falls who recommended this hike. It wasn’t on my map nor was it in my extensive Death Valley hiking guide. Since I love ridges and viewpoints, I decided to check it out. Worse case, I’d go with a Plan B.

There are two hiking viewpoints from this parking area. I headed north. The first stretch to the top of the visible peak is very busy.

I enjoyed the views down into the salt flats.If you didn’t know better you might think you were looking at the ocean.

The peak marker was NOT on the obvious peak.

This what’s known as Dante’s Ridge. At the far end is Mount Perry which is a destination and turnaround for many. I was on a time limit and would not make it that far on this visit. The hike has plenty of up and down and up and down and around and around. This unmaintained trail (route) was in pretty good shape for the section I hiked and easy to follow.

This was my turnaround point. It was hard to see how the trail would traverse the next ridge.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 3, 2019

Resources:

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CA – Death Valley National Park, Darwin Falls

Although I was on a mission to find wildflowers, I’m always in need of distractions enroute as I don’t enjoy long distance driving. A diversion from Highway 395 to Death Valley was a logical choice. I stopped and hiked around a few overlook areas on my way to find a camping spot for the night.

Pretty nice campsite view. It made for some great sunset and sunrise views, although it was a bit windy.

Good morning world!

I had originally planned to camp on the road to Darwin Falls, but as a rule follower, I respected the sign.

i was first car to the trailhead. By the time I returned from the short hike the parking lot was full.

Seeing cottonwood trees and green anywhere in Death Valley is a special treat and something not to be taken for granted.

There was water in the creek.

Darwin Falls.

Look at that lush green.Those are ferns . . . in Death Valley!

Found my first wildflowers of the season and even a ladybug.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 2-3, 2019

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CA – Death Valley NP – Mesquite Sand Dunes

Good morning! It’s 7am and all is good. 

It’s 7:30am. 

It’s near 8am.

We hiked around these dunes for 2-3 hours. What a great workout while watching the changing light. 

Date(s) Hiked: February 28, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #9 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • There aren’t any trails in the sand dunes. Pay attention or use navigation assistance to mark your vehicle location. It would be easy to get lost. Bring water. Go early or late. Sand has a reflective quality intensifying the heat. Be a kid, run down those slopes 🙂
  • I found the camping in Death Valley to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break. Another great option is the canyons or heading for higher elevation.

Resources:

CA – Death Valley NP – Corkscrew Peak

While my friend Norma is credited for much of my internal growth, Christy (aka Rockin’) is credited for much of my external growth. I found her blog, Lady on a Rock, many years ago. She became my backpacking gear and trail mentor. Her adventures set the bar high and proved women of my age could and should not feel constrained by preconceived notions. Over the years we became online friends and finally had the opportunity to meet and hike together in early 2015. 

The stage was set for an anniversary hike. Since Rockin’ has spent significant time exploring and hiking in Death Valley, she planned this hike. Something that would be new for her, and without question challenging. I consider her a bad ass hiker and climber. To say I was a little nervous is an understatement. She’s far more accomplished and skilled than me. Add to that the fact that I was a bit out of shape after spending the prior 3-4 months recovering from broken ribs.

Her choice: Corkscrew Peak. It’s not in most hiking books, not even the nearly 600-page Michel Digonnet bible. It’s a route, not a trail. Definition of route hiking? Adventure!

Corkscrew Peak is in the background as Rockin’ leads the way. 

The distinctive twist of Corkscrew.

As we gained elevation, the views improved. 

There’s Rockin’ celebrating on top of . . . a false summit. 

And onward we go. 

Sometimes there’s trail, and sometimes not so much. 

Another false summit, and so we continue. 

At Hole-in-Rock window, I’d had enough and figured this view was good enough. 

But with more trail to climb, and encouraging friends, after a little rest I continued my upward ascent.

With views like this I was happy to have pushed my limits. This is looking into Badwater Basin.

The Sierra are visible far in the distance. 

And then it was time to descend while enjoying more geologic diversity. 

Bigelow Monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii)

Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellata).

Celebrating at the top. Photo credit: Rockin’ 

Date(s) Hiked: February 27, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #8 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • According to my app, this was a 7+ mile round trip hike with 3,000+ feet elevation gain/loss.
  • I found the camping in Death Valley to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break. Another great option is the canyons or heading for higher elevation.

Resources:

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CA – Death Valley NP – Artist’s Drive, Get Out Your Brushes

While sunrise is the best time for photographing Zabriskie Point, late afternoon into early evening is best for Artist’s Drive. My timing was off. These photos were taken between 2pm and 4pm.

Date(s) Hiked: February 26, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #7 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • I found the camping to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break.

Resources:

Links:

CA – Death Valley NP – Zabriskie Point, Be Still My Heart

If you’re an early bird, and appreciate shapes, shadows, colors, and textures, this is the place to be. First photo was taken at 6:25am, last at 6:55am. No need for words, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Absolutely breathtaking!

Next visit I plan to hike the Bandlands/Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch loop. I want to the inside view of these badlands. 

Date(s) Hiked: February 26, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #7 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • You’ll want to know time of sunrise and time to drive to Zabriskie Point if you want best lighting.
  • I found the camping to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break. Another great option is the canyons or heading for higher elevation.

Resources:

Links:

CA – Death Valley NP – WOWtastic Wildflowers

Who would have thought in an environment receiving on average less than 2″ of rain per year, there would be such spectacular displays of wildflowers. Yes it was the year of the Super Bloom and yes one might expect plentiful Desert Gold which thrives even in years of drought, but I’ve learned finding such diversity was not an anomaly.

Desert 5-Spot (Eremalche rotundifolia).  This is one of the reasons I was in Desert Valley. I’d seen photos of this beauty was hoping for the opportunity to see for myself.

Notch-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata). I found large groups of these in a few drainages.

Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis)

Golden Evening Primose (Camissonia brevipes).

Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla). These are one of my new favorites. 

Lesser Mojavea (Mohavea breviflora).

Rock Daisy (Perityle emoryi).

Desert Gold (Geraea canescens)

Desert Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa)

Purplemat (Nama demissum).

Date(s) Hiked: February 26, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #7 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • Stop by the Visitor Center to find the latest wildflower reports. They marked up my map and helped me focus my attention in the right areas. Be sure to mention type of vehicle you’re driving as many roads require 4×4 or high clearance. Grab a copy of their brochure, Wildflowers of Death Valley National Park, to help with plant identification.
  • I found the camping to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break.
  • The bright bright sun makes lighting extreme for photography. Since this was my first visit to the park I was learning my way around. Next time I’d be out in prime locations at first light.
  • Great information for future planning (Digital-Desert).

    The best time to see a spring floral display is in years when rainfall has been several times the Death Valley annual average of about 1.9 inches. In general, heavy rains in late October with no more rain through the winter months, will not bring out the flowers as well as rains that are evenly-spaced throughout the winter and into the spring.

    Peak Blooming Periods for Death Valley are usually…

    Mid February to Mid April at lower elevations (valley floor and alluvial fans)
    Best Areas: Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn, base of Daylight Pass
    Dominant species: desert star, blazing star, desert gold, mimulus, encelia, poppies, verbena, evening primrose, phacelia, and various species of cacti (usually above the valley floor).

    Early April to Early May at 2,000 to 4,000 ft. elevations
    Best areas: Panamint Mountains
    Dominant species: paintbrush, Mojave desert rue, lupine, Joshua tree, bear poppy, cacti and Panamint daisies.

    Late April to Early June above 4,000 ft. elevations
    Best areas: High Panamints
    Dominant species: Mojave wildrose, rabbitbrush, Panamint daisies, mariposa lilies and lupine.

Resources:

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