Death Valley wasn’t even on our original destination list. Fran had images stuck in her mind from her childhood viewing of “Death Valley Days” that included cattle skulls and stark desert scenery. Since it is one of the hottest places in the United States as well, traveling there during the hot June weather didn’t sit very well with her either. My brother Tracy (who lives in California) insisted that it was worth a stop, so we put it on our list to take a drive through. What unexpected breath-taking beauty awaited us as we began the descent to- and below sea level!
According to the National Park Service, Death Valley is located “between the Amargosa Desert in Nevada and the Inyo National Forest in California”, and “is transected from east to west by California Highway 190.” The word “amarga” means “bitter” in Spanish (probably the water). We are glad that we made it the logical place to begin our foray into the Golden State. This was in Twenty Mule Team Canyon.
This photo was taken from inside the car as we were perched atop the hill on the road and couldn’t get this view any other way. We read that two Star Wars movies were filmed here at Death Valley–Episodes IV and VI–representing Tatooine in different locations, including Twenty Mule Team Canyon.
We didn’t make it to Badwater Basin, which is the lowest elevation in North America (at -282 feet), but this close to the turn-off to get there.
Now we head on to our overnight destination in Bishop. The next stop: Mammoth Lakes!