Updated: May 6
If you had told me six years ago that one of my favorite National Parks would be Death Valley, I would have dismissed you as ignorant.
I know! That's how ignorant I was!
All it took was the best prickly pear cactus margarita to persuade me. Wait, that's not exactly what happened...
The first time we went to Big Bend, it was an afterthought. We happened to be driving from Joshua Tree up towards Las Vegas, and we figured that we should visit Death Valley so that our son could earn his Junior Ranger badge...and so we would never have to return to the area.
We were fortunate to find a last minute "campsite" at Furnace Creek near the Visitor Center. As it turned out, "campsite" was a term used loosely. It was a parking lot. Fortunately, we had our tiny travel trailer, so we needed no amenities. Much to our surprise - a running theme for this visit - we did get access to the pool at the adjoining lodge. Although it was chilly, the kids did enjoy a swim, and we had a great visit with new friends at the community campfire...which was in the center of the campsites/parking lot.
We didn't have much time, so we drove around to view some sites. We studied the requisite park highlights at the visitor center. And we found the most popular "hike" in the park...which also happened to be one of the most magical places I have ever been in my life. (Sorry, Disney World, you lost to this place!)
Badwater Basin is the seafloor of a former sea. It is now a salt flat and the lowest point in the United States. It is surrounded by what appear to be black mountains. The salt sparkles like diamonds. There is no leaf or grass to absorb noise. It is a place to feel the energy of the world, or, as I experienced it, the energy of God.
This past winter, we again traveled to Death Valley. We hiked mind-blowing hikes. We ate some wonderful food. We visited some historic sites. We stopped for a chat with a fearless coyote. And, yes, we went back to Badwater Basin. As the waters of hot springs are healing to some, the salt flats and black mountains are the healers to me.
As we left the park on a beautiful winter day, Ryan remarked that there was not much more to see. But, like so many of the parks we grow to love, the draw, the interest, the depth only grew for me.
'Till next year, Death Valley! I plan to see you soon.
For a great guide on what to do in Death Valley National Park, read this post.
For what to do with kids at Death Valley National Park, read this post.
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