We arrived in Las Vegas March 6 about 10:30 and immediately set out for Pahrump, Nevada to stay outside Death Valley. On the way, we drove through Red Rock Canyon but didn't get out to hike because it was so crowded and couldn't find a parking space (it was Saturday with a bike/run there).
Pahrump was filled with casinos, huge billboards, RV resorts, restaurants and hotels. Its main attractions were that it was close to Death Valley and cheap to stay in a Best Western (athough my husband made jokes about the "gentlemen's clubs" there).
Here's a distant view of Pahrump as we headed out of town on March 7.
On the way to Death Valley, we saw this rainbow, a treat for us since we don't see them too often in the Appalachian Mountains (they're there just can't see them). I thought it meant we would have a good trip here.
Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
Just north of Pahrump is Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge created to save the warm springs and wetlands which were being drained for irrigation. Also, it is home to the threatened pup fish (saw lots more of these in Death Valley). We were the only visitors that day so if you like solitude, this is the place. I loved the colors of the grasses along the steaming warm creek.
Where the spring flows out of the ground, the water was a beautiful blue color, reminding me of the geysers in Yellowstone.
Death Valley National Monument
Our first view of Death Valley from the entrance on Highway 190 did not disappoint. It seemed the sun shone as soon as we hit the border of the park.
We drove up to Dante's View where we could see a good portion of Death Valley. Note that the sun is shining on the valley but the surrounding mountains were cloudy (and snowing up there).
Our first little drive was up 20 Mule Team Canyon. Our rented Santa Fe car did well on the dirt roads in the park.
On the same road, I took several photos, all very different, like this one of the stark white hills against the blue sky.
We drove and then walked up to Zabriskie Point for another great view. This was about 3:00--the photo might have even been better closer to sunset when the shadows were stronger.
I haven't even gotten through the first day! Click here for the next post.