Despite its fearful name, Death Valley is one of the coolest, most amazing and beautiful places I have ever seen. And the Timbisha Shoshone Indians who lived here for centuries before the first white man entered the valley knew all about it. A mere 90-minute car ride away from the excess of Vegas lies this unique national park that holds many surprises for its visitors. It is barren land at times, but so breathtaking that words can hardly do it justice. Visiting Death Valley is close to a mystical experience. Nature surrounds you in all its glory, silence is eerie, landscapes - incredible and powerful. Imagine a valley trapped in a valley trapped in a valley. It's dry; it's hot. We went there in the beginning of December and the wind was freezing. Not what you expect from a place famous for long horn skulls and lonely cowboys on the verge of dehydration. That day, no scorching heat but a cool 40 degrees. The place is huge - and don't expect to see it all in one day. It is possible though to hit a few of its highlights in a couple of hours: - the maze of wildly eroded and vibrantly colored badlands of Zabrinskie Point that offers a spectacular view; - the scenic 9-mile loop drive through multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills of Artist Drive; - the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin, and its surreal landscape of vast salt flats. - the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, tawny dunes smoothly rising nearly 100 feet from Mesquite Flat. You feel like in the middle of the Sahara, and the late afternoon light accentuates ripples and patterns created by the wind. - the ghost towns of Titus Canyon; and so much more. Don't forget to stop by the visitor center and chat with the park rangers who have many fascinating stories to share.
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