We left the Marriott Grand Chateau and got on the road early. It was a day of driving through the mountains. We headed North to explore Death Valley. It isn’t on the road from Las Vegas to LA so you have to plan an extra 3-4 hours for the journey.
Death Valley is a National Park, which costs $30 for entry. Unlike the Grand Canyon it is based on an honesty system. You have to pull over to a stop and buy a ticket (amazingly the machine accepts eftpos but they haven’t figured out how to put in flushing toilets).
Death Valley looks like a massive quarry. It is easy to see where it gets its name. There just isn’t a lot living here.
That’s due to the lack of water in the valley – which seems odd as you can see snow on the mountains in the distance.
Our first stop is Zabriskie Point which gives you a lookout over an interesting undulating hill formation. I feel like you could have a lot of fun on a BMX here!
We stopped in at the visitor center to get a map which is complimentary when you show your receipt for park entry. There is also a theatre at the visitor center and a place to buy food. We found the staff here much nicer and more helpful than the staff at the Grand Canyon. To be fair, they probably also only get a fraction of the visitors. The staff helped us draw up a plan for what we should see.
Artist’s Palette and Artist’s Drive
First up was the Artist’s Palette and Artist’s Drive. They are called this because of the colourful soils you will see on this drive. There is everything from greys to oranges, ochre, reds and even greens! Along the drive you’ll wind your way through these soil coloured mounds until you get to the palette. You can go on a short walk to get up close to the palette, just be careful as it can be steep and the soil is loose.
As you drive out on Artist’s Drive, make sure you keep to the right and drive slow. It is a one way road but not all tourists read the signs. We nearly hit head on with someone who was going the wrong way.
From the Artist’s Drive we headed South to Badwater Basin.
I’ve never felt so low, not because I was depressed. This is the lowest point in the USA.
Here you are well below sea level. They actually have the sea level marker on the mountainside.
You can walk all the way out into the center of the basin if you have the time. We just walked out a little ways for a photo opportunity then got on the road again.
Devil’s Golf Course
Our next stop was the Devil’s Golf Course. It’s named Devil’s Golf Course because the salt has caused these rocky formations on the salt flat. Good luck playing golf here. I’m told on a hot day, you can hear these formations crackling in the heat. If you have time lapse, you can actually see the rocks moving. It wasn’t hot enough the day we were there, but an interesting place nonetheless.
It was getting late in the day. There was still a fair drive for us to get to Los Angeles so we drove out of Death Valley the same way we came.
We stopped along the way to fill up with fuel and realised we were definitely in California now. There is a marked difference in fuel price between California and the rest of the states we have passed through on this trip.
Peggy Sue’s Diner
I had heard that Peggy Sue’s Diner was an obligatory stop along the way between LA and Las Vegas so we pulled in there for dinner.
I got a burger and root beer float – classic diner food. It’s very kitsch or eclectic. They have a variety of niknaks from the 50s and 60s.
Driving into Los Angeles
Though it was late in the evening there was still plenty of traffic as we came into Las Vegas. We were staying at an Air BnB in Hollywood just off Sunset Blvd. The hardest thing was finding street parking near our accommodation.
The accommodation was only about $100 per night but it wasn’t the most amazing accommodation. We had our own room, but the owner was staying in the lounge room. It was an additional cost for two people even though we were sleeping in the same bed. On the upside it was walking distance to Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd.
We were exhausted so we didn’t do any exploring tonight. Instead, we just went straight to bed after our last big day of driving.