~ Death Valley National Park ~
Day Two

Quite simply, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The Park encompasses more than what is historically known as Death Valley. The park includes Panamint Valley, the Panamint Mountain Range, Death Valley and the Amargosa Mountain Range

From the Ubehebe Crater I headed back south to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for lunch. From Furnace Creek I headed for Badwater Basin and the lowest spot in North America. At the time I was there is seemed like the hottest, too.

All along the journey through the park I kept seeing these “Flood Danger” signs. Although there was no danger of flooding or even a mild rainfall while I was there, there had recently been flash flooding in the valley.

While I was on the coast in Arroyo Grande, we were supposed to get rain. It didn't, but upon checking my weather list for places I was going to visit, I saw that there were Severe Weather Warnings for thunder storms in Death Valley National Park and Lone Pine, CA and in Pahrump, NV, for that week. I rarely even saw a cloud during my two days in the park.

Old Harmony Borax Works

While waiting for the Visitor Center to open (almost two hours) I took some photos of Old Dinah, a steam operated transport that replaced the twenty mule team wagons to haul the borax ore out of the valley.

Old Harmony Borax Works
On the marsh near this sign borax was discovered in 1881 by Aaron Winters who later sold his holdings to W.T. Coleman of San Francisco in 1882. Colman built the Harmony Borax Works and commissioned his superintendent J.W.S. Perry to design wagons and locate a suitable route to Mojave. The work of gathering the ore (called "cottonball") was done by Chinese workmen. From this site processed borax was transported to the railroad in Mojave until 1889.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 773

Ruins of a couple of the Harmony Borax Works buildings

After the brief visit to Harmony, I headed to Scotty's Castle. Most of my time in the park was spent below sea level.

After my visit to Scotty's and Ubehebe Crater, I drove back to Furnace Creek Visitor Center for lunch and a break.

On the way to Furnace Creek I spotted this coyote running across the desert. By the time I had stopped and turned on the camera, all I got was this blur. He found a gully in which to hide.
The tree is near the Furnace Creek Resort.

The Roadrunner

While eating lunch, I caught a glimpse of a largish bird running along the side of Arvie. I looked closer, but couldn't see it. I grabbed my camera and walked outside and to the back of Arvie and found this roadrunner waiting for me to take its photograph.

Then he did a little dance for me and when he was done, he gave me a "Meep, meep" and wandered off into the brush. I think with the red, white and blue mask, roadrunners should be our national bird.

After lunch, I headed down to Badwater Basin. That rock came from where?

Approaching Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

I set a new personal record. I have been at the lowest elevation in North America at Badwater Basin. It is 282 feet below sea level. I find it interesting that the highest point in the lower 48 states and the lowest point in North America are only about 100 miles apart.

The highest point I have been (not in an airplane or jumping from one) was at the top of Mount Washburn (10,243 feet) in Yellowstone National Park. I did not climb the entire mountain, just the top 2000 or 2500 feet over 2.6 miles of trail from the parking area.

The high point in the mountain photo is Telescope Peak the highest point in Death Valley National Park.

The water at Badwater Basin is not poisonous, it's very salty; saltier than the oceans.

I walked out onto the salt flats for a while and took that photo back at the parking area, but it was too hot to stay long or go far for me. All of this center area of Death Valley was once covered by a fresh water lake called Lake Manly. After the last Ice Age, the weather patterns changed and the area became arid and the lake dried up.
From time to time after strong rain storms parts of the Basin will fill with water. In February of 2011, sufficient flow from the Armrgosa River filled the southern part of the Basin with about eight inches of water. A few Park Rangers may be the only humans to canoe across Death Valley.

On the left is sand and salt. Many people went out a lot farther than I did.

This couple was way out there

Vast salt flats and mountains, that's Death Valley

In the photo on the right the horizontal lines mark the places that waves from Lake Manly hit the shore at various times in its history. Diferent lake levels made the lines higher or lower.

Jubilee Pass was the first of two passes to get out of the park. The other was Salisberry Pass at 3315 feet. From there it was pretty much downhill to Pahrump, Nevada.

Just oputside the park, I saw these rock formations that looked as though they had been lived in.

The one in the right photo has a door (visible low left of center) and a window to the left of that, which can be seen on the original photograph.

Your're welcome

Music is "Bring On The Rain"

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