• Tenley Lozano

Death Valley National Park (Part 2, March 2018)

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

Camping and hiking with my service dog in Death Valley National Park, California, March 2018. Ancestral lands of Kawaiisu and Newe Segobia (Western Shoshone).

Day 3 in Death Valley NP, we woke at sunrise and packed up camp to see some of the more touristy parts of the park.

Dark hills covered in cactus, a blue sky and bright pink clouds overhead. Photo by Tenley Lozano.
Sunrise in the Funeral Mountains.

Our first stop was at Zabriski Point, just off one of the main roads transecting the park. Just after sunrise, it was already starting to get a little crowded at the main viewpoint, so we walked over to a trail and took a couple photos. Badwater Basin is off in the distance here, and that was our next stop.

Rolling hills in varying shades of brown in the foreground, dry mountains in the background, under a light blue sky with patchy white clouds. Photo by Tenley Lozano.
Zabriski Point just after sunrise.

We drove for a few more minutes before arriving at the next big tourist spot: Badwater Basin. The salt flats are worth a visit early in the morning, and I had a quick look while Elu waited in the car parked in a cool and shady spot (I was worried about her paws on the salt). Next, we headed northwest in the park to Stovepipe Wells.

From there, we headed off the paved road and onto Cottonwood Canyon Road. With the music up and windows down, we drove a few miles up the road into the 4wd and high-clearance vehicle only area. I chose a nice spot by the road to camp, and we settled into another lazy day of reading, sunbathing, and exploring.

Elu the husky-mix lays in the sand in front of a rock wall, squinting in the sunshine. Photo by Tenley Lozano.
Elu sunbathing at our campsite just off Cottonwood Canyon Road.

We hiked further north along Cottonwood Canyon Road and found some really cool petroglyphs along the steep rock walls. I was surprised to find them, because everything I'd read had only mentioned carvings in Marble Canyon.

Gray rock wall with three white simple carvings. Photo by Tenley Lozano.
Petroglyphs along Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Exploring near our campsite was really fun. We just walked up and down washes checking out the different rocks, lizards, and plants. The petroglyphs were a surprise bonus!

Rock wall with various carvings. Photo by Tenley Lozano.
Some more petroglyphs along Cottonwood Canyon Road.

There is so much amazing geology in Death Valley! Pretty cool tap root on this dried out desert plant too. I think it was a creosote bush, but I'm not sure. I'm learning to identify plants on sight, but there's definitely a learning curve and I usually rely on comparing leaf shapes. Lots of fun things to nerd out about on nature walks.

We were planning to hike Marble Canyon the next morning, but I did a silly solo-adventurer thing and accidentally drained my car battery when we were at the campsite. Although we'd packed up at sunrise the next morning, we ended up having to wait a few hours for another to car to come up the road to give my Outback a jump start.

A dog wearing a coat stands near a camping tent, everything bathed in the pink glow of sunrise. Photo by Tenley Lozano.
Elu eating breakfast kibble in the glow of first light.

The guy who ended up helping us had an external battery with these tiny cute jumper cables that worked great. I've already picked one up for my next trip. But by the time we'd gotten the jump, it was already 1100 and too hot for Elu to hike at the lower elevation. We'll have to check out Marble Canyon on another visit. After getting the jump start, we headed back to Stovepipe Wells to refill my 5-gallon water jug at a spigot outside the general store. Then we took off driving to an entirely different climate - cold and rainy weather in the Panamint Mountains! I'll write about our campsite in the Panamints and our hike up Wildrose Peak in the next post.