Tag Archives: desert

Jersey Goes West Pt. 7 -Death Valley

Yes, we braved Death Valley in the summer and lived to tell about it!  One thing I search for before we left was information on touring Death Valley in the summer.  I wasn’t sure that we should even attempt it, but after reading that people actually do visit in the summer, we decided to go.  I am really glad we did!  We heeded safety warnings, brought plenty of water, did not do any long hikes and stayed within sight distance of the car. We only had a partial day to spend at the park so it was a really quick tour and we only hit some of the highlights.

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We started out at Harmony Borax Works.  The famous 20-mule teams were used for the difficult task of hauling the borax out of Death Valley to market.  The Harmony Borax Works played an important part of the history of Death Valley and the settlement of the Furnace Creek area.

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Next was a short stop at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center.  Check out that temperature!  It was about 11 am.  It is definitely a dry heat!  Make sure you drink plenty of water.  With the dry heat, you do not sweat and may not realize that you are becoming dehydrated until it is too late.

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On to Badwater Basin and the salt flats!IMG_7267

Badwater Basin was as far as we went in the southern section of the park. We turned back toward Furnace Creek and stopped at Devil’s Golf Course.  Crystallized salt was deposited here by ancient oceans and then shaped by wind and rain leaving a sharp, ragged landscape that was said a place where only the devil could play golf!

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Next stop on our whirlwind Death Valley tour was the Artist’s Palette Loop Drive. The colors on this drive are spectacular.  Pictures just don’t do it justice.  It was early afternoon when we drove the loop.  It is supposed to be even more scenic in the late afternoon or early evening sun.

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We began to slowly make our way west towards the western exit of the park.  Before reaching Stovepipe Wells Village, we stopped at Mesquite Sand Dunes.  This place (according to literature at the visitor’s center) is one of the most dangerous places in the park.  The dunes look much closer than they actually are and most of the deaths in the park have been because people try to hike to the dunes in hot weather and become dehydrated and disoriented. We stayed close to the car and admired from a distance since the temperature had reached close to 120 degrees.

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Our last stop in Death Valley was at Stovepipe Wells Village for some refreshments.  We needed to be in Mammoth Lake that night so we couldn’t stick around too long.

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I really enjoyed Death Valley despite the heat.  I hope to plan a trip back one day, hopefully in February or March when the wildflowers are blooming.  There are so many more places to explore and I hate that we had to make it a super fast trip through, only skimming the surface of what the area has to offer.  It is possible to tour Death Valley in the summer, not optimal conditions, but it is possible!  Take A LOT of water with you and heed the “Turn Off Air Conditioning” warning signs when leaving the valley.  As you climb, the car can easily become overheated.  We had no problems, but did turn off the AC and had the windows open.

Coming up next….a stop at Manzanar, the Japanese Relocation Center that was in operation during World War II.

 

 

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Jersey Goes West Pt. 6 – Rhyolite, Nevada

After leaving Nelson, we drove back through Las Vegas and on to Beatty, NV.  We made an overnight pit stop at the funky, retro Atomic Inn.  (Click on images to view in larger sizes)Atomic Inn

We set out in the morning and made the short drive to Rhyolite.  We even passed a wild burro on the way.  He was not interested in posing for a picture.

Beatty Burro

In about 10 minutes, we arrived in Rhyolite.

Rhyolite Entrance

Rhyolite was started with just a few miners’ tents in 1905.  By 1907, it was a city of 3500.  Many mining towns grew just as fast or maybe faster but what makes Rhyolite remarkable is how quickly and completely it collapsed.  In 1909, most businesses had been abandoned and a mass exodus of residents followed over the next 3 years.  By 1920 only 14 people remained.

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These days, rattlesnakes outnumber people.  There are a few caretaker residences in the town.  If you visit, heed the warning signs.  There are definitely rattlesnakes in the area.  This one was more interested in taking a snooze in the shade than bothering me.

Rattlesnake

The Las Vegas Tonapah Depot is one of the most complete structures on the property.  Due to poor structural integrity, you can not enter the building and an unsightly fence surrounds the building.  On this day, the gate was open, so we were able to walk around the building.  It was considered the grandest depot in all of Nevada.  Due to construction delays, it was one of the last buildings finished in the town in 1908.

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LV&T Depot

The Cook Bank was one of four banks that operated in the town of Rhyolite and was the largest building in the town.  More of the building would probably have survived today except that the supports were taken when the town was abandoned.

Cook Bank

The other remaining bank ruins are the Overbury building ruins.  It is fascinating how well the vault areas have held up in these structures.

Overbury Bank

Another large structure that is still partially standing is the Rhyolite School building.  Unfortunately, the school wasn’t finished till 1909, well after the downfall of the town began.  The school opened with a huge debt and and the school bonds were not paid off until 1978 by the residents of Beatty.

Rhyolite School

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A short distance from the main town site, is the Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery.  It is certainly a peaceful final resting place in the desert for the souls who lived in Rhyolite.

Bullfrog Rhyolite Cemetery

Rhyolite Cemetery

Jersey Goes West Pt. 5 – Nelson, NV

When my husband and I first started planning this trip, I knew that one place I definitely wanted to see was Nelson, Nevada.  I had seen many wonderful photographs of this area and it was a must do for me.

Nelson lies about 25 miles from Boulder City, NV so it makes it a great place to visit after a trip to the Hoover Dam.  The area is rich in history and sparse in population.  During its heyday, Nelson was an area that was home to one of the first gold strikes in the area.  Spaniards who first made gold discoveries called the area Eldorado.  The mines in the area produced several million dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead from 1858-1945.  Now most of the people have left and all that remains are a few private homes and a mine tour business.  The mine tour business operates out of an old Texaco building.

Nelson - Texaco Station

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours are the caretakers for the “Nelson Ghost Town”.  A few movies including 3000 Miles to Graceland where shot at this location.  This site is eye-candy for photographers!  There are many old buildings and cars littering the landscape.  The current owners have placed items in such a way that are quite aesthetically pleasing.  Its not a true ghost town in the sense that it is kept up and some of the buildings are newer but made too look old.  There are many great artifacts and antiques that look perfect in the settings.  If visiting, be sure to stop into the store to check in before looking around outside and be respectful of the property.  The caretakers also live on site. Based on my research, there is a fee for professional photographers as this is a popular place for photo shoots.  There was actually a model shoot going on while we were there.

Nelson - All Lined Up

Nelson - Desert Trucks

Nelson - Desert Refreshments

Nelson - Chevron Gas Station

Nelson - Chevy Truck

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