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Death Valley 2008 Trip

Day 3 of 5

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Sunday, February 24th
Golden Canyon, Harmony Borax Works, Artist Drive

Sunday morning we noticed that many people were packing up to leave. The campground would definitely be less crowded tonight, although more people would arrive on Monday.

I had thought about hiking the sand dunes, but this morning it was quite windy. The prospect of sand getting blown in my face didn't appeal to me, so we drove over to Golden Canyon instead. There, we started off on a hike through Golden Canyon to Red Cathedral.

After the hike, we drove to the store at Furnace Creek for (what else?) ice cream. We then returned to camp. While the others took an afternoon nap, I headed out on a drive. I started out driving north along Highway 190. I stopped to take some pictures of the wildflowers. This was quite challenging considering the howling wind. The winds were blowing 30-40 miles per hour at times.

Wildflowers in front of the Amargosa Range

Lowest point in the California state highway system, 242 feet below sea level

I turned around and headed south on Highway 190, then turned right onto the road for the Harmony Borax Works. I stopped at some of the pueblo ruins to take some pictures, then continued on the drive through Mustard Canyon. If you skip the canyon, you're not missing much. I drove through, then returned to the parking area for Harmony Borax Works. Despite the wind, I decided to make the short walk along the paved trail around the ruins.

Hills of Mustard Canyon behind pueblo ruins

Harmony Borax Works wagon

Harmony Borax Works exhibit

After taking my pictures, I returned to Highway 190 and continued past Furnace Creek along Badwater Road to Artist Drive. This is a one-way road into the mountains above the valley. It took me about an hour to drive this road because I kept stopping for pictures, but you could probably do it in 20 minutes if you don't stop much.

Artist Drive

Artist Drive

Slopes of Artist Drive

I started the drive around 4:30pm, and this was perfect to capture the late afternoon light. The road is paved and a bit steep in places, but it's an easy drive. I leap-frogged a few other cars, as everyone kept stopping to take pictures. Take your time and stop often. It's called Artist Drive because the mountains have splashes of green and pink. One of the best places to stop is along the stretch of road descending down toward Artists Palette. It should be fairly obvious. If you miss it and reach the parking area at Artists Palette (don't miss the right turn), then you can hike back uphill a bit to get some nice views.

Artist Drive

Hills of Artist Drive

Colorful mountains at Artist Drive

Looking at the mountains at Artist Drive

Several photographers were set up at Artist Drive hoping to get some good sunset pictures, but it was not to be today. Despite the forecast of rain, there wasn't any today, and most of the clouds were gone by sunset, leaving the sunset looking rather pedestrian. On the drive back to 190, I noticed a few clouds hovering over the top of Telescope Peak and the Panamint Range, but nothing spectacular.

Clouds over Panamint Range at sunset

That night we had quesadillas for dinner before building a campfire. We noticed coyotes howling nearby, and would hear them again in the middle of the night. We secured our campsite, putting a lot of things in the car just to be on the safe side. They didn't bother our site at all, though.

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