Do you ever go somewhere and get overwhelmed with everything there is to see and do? I do, so it’s a good thing we’re here for a while. What amazes me the most about Death Valley is the variety of the terrain. The park contains more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular desert scenery. Death Valley also features the lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level.
Golden Canyon hike
We have never been the type that drives around and snaps pictures from landmarks, we like to have the full experience. On Friday morning we picked a hike to do and hit the trails. Looking at some maps and brochures, we settled on the Badlands/Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop. This 5.8 mile loop enabled us to get back into some really cool canyons and stretch our legs. Wow, talk about breathtaking! The pictures will probably only show a fraction of the awesomeness we experienced but hopefully you’ll enjoy them.
Saturday we decided to gear up and go for a ride. We are both very interested in history and there is no shortage of stories and sites to visit in the park. Inyo Mine lies 10 miles up a rocky gravel road that cuts through Echo Canyon (appropriately named), with a fair amount of solitude. Riding up the 3300’ we were treated to rock walls, cliffs, mountains, and silence. We passed a couple trucks coming down the mountain, and a few people that had jeeped up to the mine, but largely, we were alone all afternoon. Ahhhhhhhh. Inyo Gold Mine began in 1906 after two men discovered gold and shortly after, had 755 feet of tunnels. Gold was very costly to extract and, being a desert, there was a shortage of water available for milling. The pair actually tried to go public in 1907 but they were about 6 months too late as a panic hit and investors were scarce. Left are the remains of the ball mill and a complex of living and support buildings. We hiked around and took some pictures before getting back on our bikes and BLASTING downhill.
Desolation Canyon hike
Our “recovery day” was a 3.6 mile hike up Desolation Canyon. The hike is gradually uphill, with two dry waterfall features to climb up. There aren’t any signs on the trail, but it was pretty obvious where to go. I read somewhere that George Lucas used this canyon for filming part of A New Hope. The view at the top from the ridge line is breathtaking and we spent a lot of time hiking around and admiring the views before heading back down.