Day 2 in Death Valley National Park! Woo hoo! We woke up at sunrise and made our way to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes which is just about a mile from Stovepipe Wells. In the park brochure, it says that a great time to view this area is during sunrise or sunset.
There is no defined trail here, but you can walk as far as you like on the dunes. The largest dune is about a mile away from the parking lot. The sun slowly began to rise in the East over the Amargosa Range and the sky turned a mix of orange and pink. The dunes, still cool from the low temperatures over night, appeared purple and blue.
Be sure to turn around as the mountains behind you turn a bright pink when the sun rises.
For breakfast, we decided to head over to The Oasis which is another lodging opportunity in the National Park. This place is a bit more upscale and breakfast was delicious. We highly recommend the croissant breakfast sandwich and the date bread! It is the perfect breakfast to fuel your hikes!
Next, we headed to the Golden Canyon trailhead. We had read that this is one of the best hikes in the park. This trail has a few different loops so you can hike for up to about 7 miles. From the parking lot, head towards the left and into Golden Canyon.
Even if you can’t hike too far, I highly recommend walking as far as you can into Golden Canyon. The landscape is beautiful!
You can see the red spires in front of you and the snow-capped mountains behind you. At about a mile into the trail, the trail continues straight for .5 miles to Red Cathedral. Towards the end of the trail, it gets a bit narrow and requires some rock scrambling, but apparently you can hike all the way to the base of the red rocks.
We went back to the trail junction and continued on the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop. This loop is about 4.5 miles long, but it is one of the best trails in the park. I highly recommend hiking it! Just a bit down this trail, Manly Beacon juts into the sky. In the picture below, you can see the faint outline of a trail. This part of the trail is steep, but the views are breathtaking!
There are some other interesting features along this trail and some decent inclines too.
Once you make it to Gower Gulch, it is pretty much downhill from here, but the rock formations are really interesting. At the very end of the gulch, the trail exits to the right and hugs the base of the mountains back to the parking lot. Be sure to bring lots of water and wear sunscreen on this hike!
From here, we headed up to Zabriskie Point which gives you a panoramic view of the Golden Canyon hike!
Our last stop in Death Valley was at Dantes View. A 13 mile drive leads you to one of the most breathtaking views in the park. At over 5,000 feet above sea level, this point gives you a panoramic view of the mountains and the salt flats below. You can even see the Badwater Basin trail below!
We decided to take a different way home to San Diego so we took Highway 190 east to Highway 127 south. If you are looking for a nicer rest stop and a place to refuel, stop in Shoshone. The last town before hoping on Interstate 15 through Barstow is Baker, California. I just happened to look up from the backseat and noticed the giant thermometer! I had just recently watch a tv show called “Strange Inheritance” on it so I was pretty shocked to see it! Nicole’s dad pulled over so that I could snap a quick picture of it!
We spent a quick two full days in Death Valley National Park and it was phenomenal. I really feel like we experienced all of the key places and we really made the most of our time. The landscape was something that I had never seen before and that I feel lucky to have experienced. Have you ever been to Death Valley National Park? What was your favorite part?