One of the coolest parts about my trip out west was the epic road trip adventure that we were soon to embark on as we mapped our way to our final destination of Lake Tahoe.
There was still one more spot to see, however.
Death Valley National Park was on our radar, and noting that was on the way to Lake Tahoe, we decided to build it into our road trip. It would take approximately eight hours to drive from Vegas to the Tahoe region, so we were in no rush to get there by any means. In life, sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride rather than always just the destination, right?
We packed our bags and set out for the road on Monday morning, bright and early. I had been on many road trips before, but nothing ever quite like this. I didn’t exactly know what I was in for. That was the good thing. After years of being cooped up in the northeast and knowing all of the ins and outs of the east coast road trips, I was more than excited to see a whole new world.
Change is good!
The journey to the Tahoe region was a whole lot of….well…nothing. Numerous mountains were in our view the entire trip. We passed by several ghost towns that had become extinct simply because populations couldn’t survive in the middle of nowhere. Other towns were just hanging on by a thread, but it was certainly neat to see.
Roughly three hours into our adventure, we were now close to our first destination of Death Valley National Park, otherwise known as the lowest elevated in the continental United States. The elevation is 282 feet below sea level, and as your’e driving into the park you are greeted with signs that state your elevation point every mile of the way.
It was a sight to see, and feel as your ears popped nearly every stretch of the way.
As we continued our descent into the valley, we were greeted with towering mountains on either side us which eventually led to sand mountains that people were sand surfing on. While I’m not sure if that is permitted, it was pretty cool to see.
Once we reached the valley floor, our ears finally gave into the elevation change. Around us was nothing but a gorgeous landscape that was so blissfuly barren but yet seemingly so beautiful. The lowest point of the park is known as Badwater Basin. This area is known to get rain storms that leave roughly 2 inches of water in the basin which is littered with salt. The salt is visible when there is no water in the basin and looks like a hint of a frost during the winter.
As we passed along through Death Valley, we eventually made our way to a casual dining location in an area that resembled an old west town. The architecture was totally cute and it was worth noting that the cell phone reception in this area was practically nonexistent so put the phone down and enjoy the view. You’ll be here for a while thanks to the delicious entrees and probably the only watering hole for many miles.
After a bite to eat, it was time to continue our journey to Tahoe. It was such an eye opening experience traveling through the valley. Much of what I have seen on the Discovery Channel or reading books has suddenly come to life right here in front of my face. As we traveled through and gained elevation again, we were soon greeted by flowering plants as the earth seemed to spring back to life all over again as green plants started to spruce up the landscape from the constant brown dirt we had been staring at for a period of time.
In most places, its hard to envision a land without trees let alone plants.
The journey through Death Valley was certainly something special, and something I had been wanting to check off my bucket list for many years. I was glad I was able to finally accomplish it. The journey to Tahoe was continuing to take shape, and I couldn’t wait to see some sort of civilization after not seeing it for three hours or so.
The sad part is, I probably wouldn’t see it for many more hours to come.
To be continued…..
(Editors note: The West Coast Adventure is a six part elevated series. This column is currently part five in the series. It is meant to reflect a journey and to have the reader travel along through the columns. We hope that you’re enjoying the journey!)
Click below for a complete showcase of the journey.