Death Valley National Park
Kelly Bou and I visited California's Death Valley National Park on 15 December 2011 as a day trip from Las Vegas, Nevada.  With only a day to spend in this vast park, we started with a drive up to Dantes View which alone is worth the price of admission.  As had been suggested to me by Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko, Kelly and I hiked a short ways north up a bump unofficially known as Dantes Peak.  After snapping numerous photographs, we returned to our car and retreated a short distance down the access road to a pullout with a biffy.  From here, we hiked over several bumps to the summit of Coffin Peak.  While the views from this minor summit do not compare to Dantes View, I nevertheless enjoyed the extra exercise to tag another named peak.  Returning once again to our car, we drove out the access road and continued all the way down to Badwater Basin for a quick stroll on the salt flats.  With the sun rapidly disappearing behind the Panamint Range to the west, we drove back along Artists Drive and stopped to visit the colourful rocks of Artists Palette.  It was a shame that we did not have more time to explore this wonderful park, but I have no doubt that we will return for an extended visit in the near future.
The summit of Dantes Peak is not visible here. Kelly heads north from the parking area at Dantes View.
There's more to it than meets the eye...well, maybe only a little bit more! Coffin Peak is visible to the southeast.
This peak is high on my to-do list. Telescope Peak pokes above the clouds to the west.
Wow. The salt flats of Badwater Basin are spread out below Dantes View.
It's a quick and easy walk from here to the top of Dantes Peak. Kelly stops to take some photographs on her way to Dantes Peak which is visible behind her.
We did not have enough time to include Mount Perry on our visit. North from the summit of Dantes Peak are Mount Perry (left of centre) and Pyramid Peak (far right on horizon).
It's a bit of a drop here, so watch your step! Badwater Road winds around a wash about 1800 metres below.  The strip of white at bottom right is where tourists usually walk out onto the salt flats.
Very sublime. This is one of the many huge washes emanating from the Panamint Range to the west.
Not much different from what you can see from the parking lot at Dantes View. Here is a more comprehensive view of Badwater Basin from Dantes Peak.
I will have to return in the future to explore that side of the park. Clouds and haze obscure much of the northern half of Death Valley.
Dantes View is the flat section on the horizon at far left. Kelly is on her way to Coffin Peak.  Dantes Peak is on the right.
The ups and downs going to Coffin Peak aren't really that terrible. Pyramid Peak rises prominently on the horizon as Kelly descends to a broad saddle.
It's actually closer than it looks here. The summit of Coffin Peak comes into view.
Coffin Peak shows some ruggedness on its west side. Kelly descends to another saddle before the final push to the summit.
I didn't have time to bag all these nubs! Kelly detours to check out some rock outcrops.
Easy as pie. Kelly takes the last few steps before the summit.
Kelly has some nice photos of the cactus at our feet on her Facebook site. Sonny and Kelly stand atop the 1677-metre summit of Coffin Peak.
Too bad about the glare from the sun. A large wash drains into Death Valley to the southwest.
The Black Mountains are part of the larger Amargosa Range. The Black Mountains stretch away to the south.
Maybe Batman lives there! Bat Mountain is visible across the plain to the east.
A very colourful peak. The view north includes Mount Perry.
Okay, enough ridgewalking!  Time to head down to Badwater Basin! This is looking back at the access ridge.  Dantes Peak is also visible on the horizon at right.
Which way to the beach? Kelly stands near the junction of Badwater Road and Highway 190.
An ocean-side resort with no ocean! Furnace Creek Inn is situated close to the junction.
A couple of Slovenian women took this photo for us. Kelly and Sonny arrive at Badwater Basin (86 metres below sea level), the lowest dry land elevation in North America.  The actual low point is several miles west of this sign.
Some insects and snails actually thrive here. This spring-fed pool is an oasis of sorts at Badwater Basin.
We lucked out here and briefly had the whole basin to ourselves. Kelly walks out onto the salt flats.
Make sure you hang onto your wallet and toque! Kelly jumps for joy on the salt flats.  Dantes Peak is visible in the background.
I guess the salt flats are not so flat after all! These salt crusts are formed from repeated freeze-thaw and evaporation cycles.
If you look closely, you may be able to spot the "Sea Level" sign up in the rocks behind me. Sonny grins back at the Badwater Basin parking lot.


An appropriate place for an artist like Kelly!

Kelly hikes toward Artists Palette just before sunset.


It's like God threw up here! Here is a closer look at Artists Palette.
I like the drainage patterns here. The hillsides near Artists Palette are interesting in their own right.
Okay, show's over. Let's go get something to eat! The sun disappears behind the clouds to the southwest.
A nice hike if you don't have the time or energy to do Mount Perry. Statistics for Coffin Peak

Total Distance:  4.75 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  2 hours 30 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  102 metres

GPX Data