Death Valley ~ Days 4-7

After our 7+ mile hike out to the Panamint Dunes we decided it was time to move the Mutiny to Stovepipe Wells, which is a little closer to the more well-known sites in  Death Valley. Made up of
3,367,626 acres, it is nearly impossible to see 'everything' in this National Park {although we were determined to see a lot of it}. Most of the tourist destinations are several miles away from any established campgrounds and often take half a day to see (but are very much worth it). Still, cutting out the 32 miles between Panamint Springs and Stovepipe Wells gave us that much more time to hike and explore the other side of the valley.
Artists Palette

The lowest point in North America
Natural Bridge

We spent one day driving out to Badlands, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level and then hiked Natural Bridge and drove through Artists Palette. From there is was a longer hike to Red Cathedral via Golden Canyon (which is a must do in my book). Although it was hotter in the valley and it seemed that the sun was directly overhead in the canyon, leaving no shade for us, arriving at Red Cathedral really did make the suffering worth it (at least it stopped Clark from declaring hiking to be the stupidest "sport" ever).
Shade? Water? A nap...Are we there yet?!?

A view of Red Cathedral from Golden Canyon.
Red Cathedral
Red Cathedral
Because of the distance between everything, that was all we could fit in during our first day at Stovepipe. Since we are traveling with Cleo, the dog, and our cats, Avi and Miso, we generally have a small window of time to get back to the RV to prevent any accidents. So it wasn't until the following day that we ventured the other way to see Scotty's Castle, Ubehebe Crater and then Mosaic Canyon (which is actually right next to Stovepipe Wells).
Yep, a real castle!
Awww...{Ubehebe Crater}
Ubehebe Crater
Hiking in Mosaic Canyon, another MUST!
Mosaic Canyon's polished rocks.
We spent a total of 6 full days in Death Valley and never ran out of things to see. It's definitely a hiker's paradise so long as you don't mind a little sun. The terrain varied so much that on any given day we might hike through sand, boulder up a waterfall, gain 2000 feet in elevation while 4 wheeling in the Jeep, stumble across a mine shaft, cross paths with a coyote and then sit in awe of colorful rocks polished like marble that are over 100 million years old. It's mind blowing.

We relied heavily upon the book Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to it's Natural Wonders and Mining Past by Michel Digonnet and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the park. It not only has maps and notes for great hikes, it provides great insight into the history and geology of the area.

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