With autumn approaching, it’s the best time to visit the Death Valley attractions, where the temperatures can be extreme, to say the least. The highest temperature in the entire world was recorded at Furnace Creek at 134°F in 1913. Even autumn can see very warm temperatures, but as long as you are prepared, Death Valley National Park is a unique and fun destination.
Covering nearly 3.4 million acres, Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States. The park is located in the states of California and Nevada, east of the Sierra Nevada.
At more than 5000 ft. above the valley floor, the vista at Dante’s View is considered to be the most stunning of the Death Valley attractions. There is a ridge along the top, which combined with the cooler temperatures and breeze at that height, as well as the panoramic 110-mile-long view, make it a popular location for short walks and photo ops of the Badwater Basin far below.
This is a 9-mile, one-way drive, dipping, curving, and looping through ravines and colorful craggy volcanic hills. The section of Artist’s Palette in Death Valley is not to be missed from late afternoon to dusk when the light splashes off of the mineral hills, making them appear iridescent yellow, green, coral, and blue.
The word to describe Zabriskie Point at sunset… spectacular. A bit windy, but worth the short uphill walk, the view is otherworldly as you look down on the vibrant labyrinth of badlands. It’s one of the most visited Death Valley attractions.
Zabriskie Point will always have a special place in my heart. Just four months after my horrible, near-death South African car crash, this was my first foray into traveling again. To get to the viewpoint would take a ¼ mile walk to the crest, which may not seem like much, but with my newly-healed pelvic fractures and steel plates holding my left femur together, it looked daunting from my perspective. But I was not going to miss this famous viewpoint! So with my crutch in hand, I slowly and carefully began the ascent, stopping at a rest bench (bless you, park rangers!) at the halfway mark. I am nothing if not tenacious, and by Job, I did it! One huge milestone and an almost immeasurable sense of accomplishment and future motivator.
At 282 feet below sea level, is one of the most interesting Death Valley attractions. The shimmering basin is the lowest point, not just in Death Valley, but in all of North America. With the Black Mountains in the background, you can walk out on the bone-dry, slippery salt flats. In the winter, the flats become a temporary pond that is four times saltier than the ocean.
Looking down from the rim of this amazing site, it’s hard to believe it was created just 2000 years ago by a loud volcanic steam explosion. The 600-foot-deep crater was what remained. There are three major trails at the crater. Winds at the rim of the crater can be strong with gusts above 50 mph.
In the northern area of Death Valley, just a short drive from Death Valley National Park is Scotty’s Castle. “Death Valley Scotty” was a con man who claimed he built the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style villa from gold from his mine. However, it was nothing more than an elaborate but clever hoax. The estate belonged to wealthy friends, and he used it to scam unwitting investors into giving him money for his gold prospecting scheme.
Death Valley is an amazingly beautiful place, worthy of a weekend of auto touring and/or hiking. Be sure to take plenty of water – perspiration on a 110°F day will wick away about one liter of water per hour – even more, if you’re hiking. Lightweight, protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats are also key to health and comfort.
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About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials” and she was named one of the “Top 35 Travel Blogs” in the world.
She is also the star of the upcoming TV series “Destination Takeover” which is scheduled to premiere in the new few months.
Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous destinations, exotic beaches, and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.