Your Next Adventure: Death Valley National Park
Photo credit: @4xploration
Death Valley is truly the wild, wild west, giving desert visitors more than 3 million acres of designated wilderness to discover. As America's largest national park with thousands of miles of remote backcountry, it's a phenomenal place to get out and explore the natural beauty the desert has to offer. You can take in mountain ranges, ride horseback, camp, fish, explore salt flats, hike canyons, off-road the sand dunes, and enjoy the springs. Death Valley is notorious for its extreme heat, even during the winter, so make it a point to plan appropriately for every activity so you can have fun and stay safe while you visit. Also, keep in mind Death Valley is a fragile ecosystem, so do your best to not leave a carbon footprint.
Situated in the Sierra Nevada mountain range between the Inyo Mountains, Alabama Hills is known for its prehistoric round rock formations formed more than 100 million years ago. A popular filming location for the television and movie industry, springtime is the right time for photographers of all levels to capture the kaleidoscope of wildflowers in bloom. You can also climb, fish, hike, mountain bike, and ride horseback. Also, tour the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center; it has a bookstore, plants native to the area, and learning displays kids will enjoy teaching about the desert. You can also see the highest peak in the U.S., Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet, and the lowest spot, Badwater Basin, sitting 282 feet below sea level.
Tuttle Creek Campground is open year-round and allows for camping consecutively for up to 14 days. The nice thing about this spot is reservations are not required for any of its 83 RV/tent sites or 10 pull-through trailer spaces. Each spot has a fire pit, lantern holder, and picnic table however no electricity or water hook-up is available. A five-dollar dump station and drinking water are offered spring through mid-fall, with the small town of Lone Pine located five miles away in the northeast.
Positioned about 25 minutes from Ridgecrest in Kern County, CA, is another locale, the extremely rugged, secluded Trona Pinnacles in the California Desert Conservation Area. Driving in requires skill and 4x4 clearance is recommended. Rich with calcium carbonate "tufa" spires (a.k.a. porous rock) that formed 10,000-100,000 years ago in the historic Searles Dry Lake basin bed, this area makes an excellent landscape for nature photography. You can also camp here for 14 consecutive days if spots are available.
The guidelines at this site are stricter. The good thing is how respectful visitors are of the rules because of the delicate ecology, making this one of the cleanliest campsites. You must take all trash with you, leaving nothing behind, and stay on the paved roads. Plus, there is no Wi-Fi or water-hook up, and only one single vault toilet, so pack accordingly. Be extra careful during the rare rainy season not to get stuck in the mud. It can get very windy, and watch out for rattlesnakes, scorpions, and spiders. This spot is also well known for dirt bikes, and military planes regularly fly overhead from the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake. The sunsets will take your breath away as the nights are majestic, calm, and filled with stars.
Death Valley National Park is not public land and therefore has different restriction for pets. Review the rules HERE to always keep your fur babies safe. This park follows state and local public health guidelines, with some parts closed during the pandemic. Be sure to check each location in advance of your trip for updates. For more information and to plan your trip accordingly, visit the National Park Service HERE.