|Death Valley from Dante's View|
I followed the scenic drive as seen in National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, 4th Edition: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.
Before you go --
- Fill up your car's fuel tank
- Pack plenty of water bottles
- Apply sunscreen and bring a big hat
- Plan like you are going to spend a day at the beach in the hot sun
The book suggests starting at Olancha. Since I was traveling from Bakersfield, that worked perfect for me, and I topped off my tank in Pearsonville before starting the scenic drive.
|Owens Dry Lakebed|
The highway goes through Saline Valley as you climb into the Argus Range, and the book says you might see jets flying low during pilot training. As luck would have it, I was buzzed by two jets in a row flying very low (my guess is 500 feet) and almost directly over my car in the narrow valley. It was pretty exciting! In a flash the jets were turning to avoid the mountains and on their way.
|View from Argus Range into Panamint Valley|
|First view of Death Valley after descending the Panamint Range|
|Stovepipe Wells is at sea level|
|Mesquite Flats sand dunes|
|Flowers in Golden Canyon|
|Badwater is 282 feet below sea level|
TIP: Give yourself a full day to take the drive described in the book. The book suggests three hours but I spent eight hours and still had to skip several of the stops. Or, enter the park from the south and visit Badwater first, and then drive to Dante's View so that you can see the best spots first, and decide how much time you have left for the other stops.