Our drive through Death Valley National Park was exciting because we had never seen terrain like this before. The kids were thrilled to see real live twisters form in the distance, twirl around for a few minutes and then eventually disappear.
Instead of taking flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco, we decided to do a road trip and drive. Yes, it would take about 10 hours or more, but if we broke the trip halfway and spent the night in Mammoth Lakes, it would be very doable. Road trips with excited kids are one of my favorite things to do as a family.
Some parts of Death Valley had jagged mountains, looking like we were on another planet. We stopped and stepped out of the car a few times to take pictures but had to rush back immediately because the winds were too violent.
We passed through sand storms and had to keep windows and vents tightly shut as sand flew all around us. The temperature was a high 90--maybe even in the 100s.
Well-marked "dips" on the road that alerted the kids when to shout "FASTER DADDEEEE!"
We drove past Badwater Basin, the lowest part of Death Valley at 262 feet below sea level. In fact, they say this is actually the lowest part of whole western hemisphere--a pretty impressive claim!
Sign on a board before one of the nature trails.
Although some parts of Death Valley looked truly inhospitable and rough, it was still eerily beautiful. Look how this photographer describes it here.
Many people come to Death Valley National Park to nature trip--to hike, to trek and to take pictures. Even if it looks uninhabitable, lots of desert flora and fauna thrive here. Just like most national parks, there are campgrounds in Death Valley too. For us just passing through, a drive-by with a few stops here and there was plenty. I have no desire to trek or to camp in desert terrain.
We were happy tourists in our air-conditioned rental car.
After hours of driving through the desolate but intriguing landscape, we finally arrived at Bishop, the town right before the ski town of Mammoth Lakes. We stopped at the local K-mart to pick up some hoodies as we only had summer clothes with us.
We got to our ski lodge at Mammoth Lakes close to 10 pm. From 40 degrees C (about 100 F) an hour ago, it was now 0 degrees C--freezing point (32 F). We told the girls that in the span of the 10-hour road trip, we were probably going to experience the four seasons of the States. We just did the extremes--summer and winter! There was a little snow on the ground, but nothing to get excited about yet.
We were lucky the inn was still serving dinner when we checked in. There was just a choice of steak or salmon, which happen to be the favorite dishes of the girls.
Upstairs our room was warm and cozy and we were eager to snuggle under the duvets. We still had another long drive ahead of us, this time through Yosemite National Park.
Our road trip was going as (un)planned and Death Valley National Park did not disappoint. We were looking forward to more nature tripping (and hopefully snow) the next day, but this time, of the more hospitable kind.
Death Valley National Park