Death Valley and Mojave Desert, California (April 2009)

April 2009, a desert trip in the west of California !

I had to make a stop-over at Atlanta, GA. During the flight from Brussels I used my hand-held aviation GPS device to track the different way-points. After crossing the ocean we headed towards Quebec, CA. Half an hour before we passed the way-point in Quebec I made the nice picture on the right, it is the mouth of the frozen river near Moisie. Beneath satellite view of the same area.

During the preparation of my trip I used trip-advisor has a recent update on the different hotels. I booked on my favourite brands and was quite lucky with my choice. Clean, quiet, good service, everything I needed and on top a pool that was worth a visit to get rid of my jetlag.

Driving around in the US is easy and always fun. The only attention-point is the 'turn right on red' and 'no turn on right' signs, as we are not used to this principle in Europe. Remarkably is that the average size of cars is shrinking, where small vehicles were rare in the past they became common in a few years time. Beside some exceptions like the monster truck on the picture.

I planned to visits, first to Death Valley, second to the Mojave Desert. April is a really nice month to make such trips, as it is not to warm.


Hilton pool

Hotel pool

Monster truck

Monster truck

Death Valley.

The first visit was to Death Valley. I prepared the visit using the internet (of course) and can advice the official site of the National Preserves where you can find for the national parks useful information and a downloadable visitor guide in PDF format.

I followed the advice to taking water with me and bought 4 bottles, a gallon each, and a bottle of coke. The planned journey was along the Old Spanish Trial via Shoshone, then following Badwater Road to reach Furnace Creek. The return via Death Valley Junction and Bell Vista Road.

Armed with my dashboard mounted mobile GPS I was ready for the trip. I remarked immediately that my mobile phone was dead, no reception of any signal. Driving the Old Spanish Trial is a scenic drive, hours of driving without seeing someone else. No wonder it is not recommended to leave the major roads and from time to time people die here in the desert. It was a very lonely drive, until I arrived in Badwater.

Badwater is a remarkable place when you think you are 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. In between the stops at Badwater and Furnace Creek I visited Artist Palette and Gold Canyon.

Even more remarkable is Furnace Creek, a little town in the middle of this desolate area. The place has a large solar plant to produce energy and an 18-holes golf course.

On my way back I visit Zabriskie Point and Date View to enjoy the marvellous outlook over the valley.

Death Valley National Park

Welcome to Death Valley National Park

Artist Drive

From the Badwater Road I drove the Artist Drive to take a look at the Artist Palette.


Along the Old Spanish Trial I saw some hungry and curious coyotes.

Badwater soil

The remarkable soil of Badwater.


Finally in Badwater!

Badwater from Dante View

Amazing view from Dantes View downwards to Badwater

Gold Canyon

Along the road I made a stop and visited the Gold Canyon, a long trial to walk but worth a visit.

Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert is known for the Joshua trees and as I never saw such tree before it was the place to go. I did my preparation the saw way as I did for the visit to Death Valley.

The desert is crossed by a railway and at a certain crossing with the road I had to stop for a train. It took a while to have such a long train passed, must have been a mile long.

In the Park is a huge area with Joshua trees everywhere, as far as you can look. Impressive and a remarkable plant.

Nearby is Black Canyon. It is a dirty road through a desolate area with burned trees.

Mojave National Park

Welcome to Mojave National Park



Two Super Turbine Locomotives to pull the looooooonnnggg train, also at the end another two of these

Joshua tree

Joshua trees

Black Canyon

Burned Joshua trees in Black Canyon

Help the tree

Can someone help to keep this Joshua tree up?