Surprising Death Valley

I feel like I should be saying, “Here, let me show you our slides from our family vacation this summer!”  LOL, I have so many pictures, and we’ve been in Death Valley for only two full days so far.  I’m going to write a ton of posts with a ton of photos, and you’re going to have to nod politely and skip what you want to skip, just as if you were snoozing during our vacation slideshow.  🙂

Hottest, Driest, Lowest

First off, I’m such an ignoramus about this area that I didn’t even know that Death Valley is a national park.  I thought it was just some big desert out in the southwest.  But it’s beautiful!

The park visitor’s guide explains that it’s the hottest place on Earth (128 degrees F in 2013); the driest national park in the U.S. (averages two inches of rain); and the lowest elevation in North America (-282 feet).  These superlatives are pretty rad, but it’s the canyons and the salt flats and the nature (yep) that have taken me by surprise.

Our Campground

We usually camp outside a national park, since dogs aren’t allowed anywhere in a park but on roads, so it’s a boring place for Banjo.  But we got tired of the long drives into the parks at Yellowstone and the Tetons; it meant that for us to hike early we had to leave the trailer at the crack of dawn to beat the tourists.  Here, also, the boondocking in the surrounding desert is crowded, just like around Las Vegas.  

So we thought we’d treat ourselves to the luxury of a park campground, which means basically your own campsite and a park ranger driving through every once in a while making sure people keep their dogs on leash.  Oh, and dumpsters, yay!  

It’s indeed hot here, around 90 during the day with no shade at the campsite.  We leave early to hike, and we set up the trailer so it stays cools for Banjo while we’re away. When we get back, we open it up and lie around outside in the shade we create with the awnings and beach umbrella.  Then at night the stars come out full-force.  It’s really quite pleasant here.