Nicolas had seen pictures of Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley National Park in a magazine, and he was determined to do some hiking there.
So, in hopes of getting there before the temperatures got too high, we initially bypassed Las Vegas and made our way to Pahrump, NV, where we found a really nice Passport Park which was an easy 1-hour drive to Death Valley.
As we got closer to the park, we transitioned from desert to the Funeral Mountains that line the eastern edge of the valley.
The first landscape we encountered in the park was the Badlands.
This area is full of amazing colors and is incredibly beautiful!
We stopped at Zabriskie Point to enjoy the view of the badlands.
The views from the top of Zabriskie Point were breathtaking, and we were careful to stay away from the edge!
There are so many hiking options in Death Valley, and so many areas to see . . . we had a full day ahead of us!
We were really lucky that it was a cooler day, starting out in the low 70s as we descended to the valley floor.
This monument was dedicated to the 49ers . . . gold miners travelling to California in search of their fortune. They decided to take a shortcut through Death valley, and many never made it . . . hence the name, Death Valley.
This is the Furnace Creek area of the park (seems like an appropriate name), where there are several resorts and campgrounds . . . I think I heard somebody say that they are only open October through May.
I think I know why . . . here it was, April 5th, and a “cooler day” relative to the rest of the week!
We stopped in the Visitor Center to purchase our new annual national park pass, and to find out which areas of the park we needed to make sure we saw. Nicolas had a couple of hikes that he wanted to try, and the Ranger recommended a few other areas, too. Of the two hikes Nicolas had selected, Gold Canyon and Mosaic Canyon, the Ranger recommended Mosaic Canyon if we only had time for one of them.
Mosaic Canyon is just north of the Stovepipe Wells Resort area of the park, and on the way we could visit two of the Ranger’s other recommendations, so we headed that way.
Leaving Furnace Creek, we witnessed the desolation of Death Valley . . . this is what I had expected all of it to look like!
Tucked into the base of the Panamint Mountains on the west side of Death Valley is Salt Creek, the only water source in Death Valley.
We walked on the boardwalk that followed Salt Creek through the desert, and on the way back to the car, spotted this little lizard. There is life in Death Valley!
Our next stop was Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes.
They appeared out of nowhere, stretching across the valley, from one mountain range to the other, 2 miles across.
Nicolas and Bryce walked out a little way, but didn’t make the hike all the way to the tallest peak – it was only 100 ft. tall anyway, nothing like the sand dunes in Michigan!
From the sand dunes, we continued on to Stovepipe Wells, where we ate our lunch before continuing on to Mosaic Canyon.
The Mosaic Canyon Trail was listed as being anywhere between 1/2 mile and 2 miles, depending on how far into the canyon you walk.
Nicolas, of course, was ready to hike the entire 2 miles!
The first part of the trail took us through the narrowest part of the canyon – with smooth marble walls on both sides of us!
There were a few areas where we needed a little boost!
Why walk on the ground when you can walk on the walls??!!
I can see why this hike is so popular . . . the canyon walls seemed to change color in every direction you looked – it was beautiful!
And there was always something for the guys to climb on!
Everyone was happy . . . they had rocks and walls and cliffs that they could climb on, and they knew that I was safely on solid ground next to them!
As the canyon opened up in front of us,
there were a number of routes that we could follow . . . along the floor of the canyon, closer to the wall where we’d get some occasional shade, or right up on top of the canyon wall.
Tom and I opted to stay low, but close to the wall where we’d get some protection from the sun . . . and of course the boys took the high road!
They said in some areas the trail was narrow, but in other areas it was as wide as a road . . . but it was windy up there! Bryce decided to come down after a while, but Nicolas kept going – he said that the view was awesome!
We continued on, and eventually the canyon walls started coming back together.
Nicolas ran out of trail up top, and had to come back down and rejoin us! Bryce helped him find a good spot to land!
The canyon was beautiful,
and although it wasn’t steep, it was a constant uphill climb, so after about a mile Tom and I were getting a little tired, and were halfway through our water supply (the universal hiking signal to turn around!).
Of course, the other two weren’t tired, so we gave them 40 minutes to try to reach the end of the trail . . . if they hadn’t found it by then, we told them to turn around. They continued on, and Tom and I made our way leisurely back down the trail. We talked to several people along the way, and most of them had family members further out on the trail, too, so we knew they weren’t alone.
We didn’t have to wait long for them to catch up to us!
They were pretty sure they found the end of the trail . . . they got to a wall that looked like a dry waterfall, with no way up, so they assumed that was the end!
As we exited the canyon, the view of the valley below was breath-taking!
I’m glad Nicolas chose this hike!
But we weren’t done yet . . .
We passed Furnace Creek and continued south on Badwater Rd. until we reached the Badwater Salt Flats,
at 282 feet below sea level, it’s the lowest, driest, hottest spot in North America.
There’s a “trail” out there . . . you can walk for 2 miles on the salt . . . not sure why you would want to! We took a look, and a few pictures, and moved on.
We were all getting a little tired, and were ready to head back to the hot tub at the RV Park, so we passed up hiking in Gold Canyon, and just take the scenic route through Artists’ Drive on the way out of the park.
We were glad we took this little side trip, because it was beautiful!
The twisty, turny, narrow road wound it’s way around, over, and between the rocks!
9 miles of breath-taking beauty!
Before we came here, we really had no idea of what to expect from Death Valley – I know I just pictured an unending expanse of desert! We found out that it’s so much more than that . . . desert, yes, but also beautiful, colorful mountains and canyons . . . sand dunes . . . and even a creek!
All of it was absolutely beautiful, and we were all glad we took the time to discover what Death Valley had to offer!