OK, we didn’t drive all the way to hell, just to the gate: Death Valley National Park. Traveling in on Highway 190 from the west was a white knuckle trip for both driver and passenger.
With the steep grade going from 7,000 feet to 0 feet, narrow roads with zero margin outside the fog line before a drop off, add some twists and turns with oncoming traffic and you have a road that Jim is happy not to have to repeat. Especially driving a 41’ RV towing the Jeep behind – it’s definitely the most nerve wracking trip to date.
Until recently I’ve been driving along behind the RV, but now that we have the Blue Ox Aventa LX tow bar hooked up, I sat in the passenger seat and kept my eyes focused on my laptop the entire time. Keeping my gasps and winces to myself.
We started our day at the Bristlecone Pine Forest and did a quick drive-by of Alabama Hills (rock formations and popular film set for old westerns) with a view of Mount Whitney (highest peak in the contiguous U.S. at 14,505 feet), both of which provided further evidence we need to revisit this area and spend more time.
About 6:30 p.m., just as the last light of day was fading, we rolled into our campsite in Stovepipe Wells, tapped into that 50 amp electric and cranked on both A/C units. It was 94 degrees.
Death Valley is the largest American national park outside Alaska. Of the 3.4 million acres, 91% is wilderness. This is an adventure that’s not for the faint of heart. Its extremes of elevation and geologic formations create a natural sort of museum, a timeline of history. It is famed for its superlative trifecta: hottest, lowest and driest location in the entire country.
Every piece of literature warns about the high temperatures. Don’t trust your GPS. Don’t rely on cell service. Make sure your auto is in good working order. Stay alert for flash flood. Drink at least a gallon of water a day and bring extra. Holy crap – who would visit a place like this. And why?!
Stay tuned for more…