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post #1 of (permalink) Old 11-19-2021, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
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Default Death Valley Sights and Hikes

Death Valley National Park is a special place. On first mention people usually think about extreme temperatures, but if you come here Nov - Feb it is very scenic with far ranging vistas and countless little treasures to explore. First time I drove into Death Valley was in December 2003 & was literally swept away. I came back several times after and always found something new. In this thread I will put into words and pictures some new areas I explored Nov 17 - 20, 2021


Panamint Valley Road

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[Every time in the past I came from Lone Pine, but this time I drove from Ridgecrest and Trona and it was very scenic. This shot is maybe 5 miles before intersection with Hwy 190]

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[Roadside shot of Panamint Range and Telescope Peak, highest in the park I ascended in 2014 - see here]


Darwin Falls

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[Waterfall in Death Valley? You better believe it! This little gem is still quite unknown. You drive 2.5 miles of rough but car passable road; it splits off Hwy 190 few minutes before Panamint Springs and it is unmarked. There are lots of sharp rocks in roadbed so you need to go very slow if you don't want to get a flat. Once on the trailhead it is short ~2miles return hike, first up a wash then into canyon to the falls. Last 10 minutes or so are actually a bit demanding as you need to cross the creek several times and scramble some bluffs]


Rhyolite Ghost Town

There are several ghost towns around Death Valley, but Rhyolite is most famous. It had it's heydays in early 20th century and apparently had ~6000 people at its peak. Turnoff is couple of miles before Beatty, Nevada and road is paved. There are several structures and real treat to explore. People just drive from one to the other, but I'd suggest parking by the "museum" as you drive in, then just walking - you get much more from your visit that way, and distance is short -- less than a km 1 way. Here are some pics:

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[Bank and probably most imposing structure]

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[Train Station - it is fenced and you can't go in; would be interesting to see what's inside, but they are trying to protect this heritage from inevitable vandalism I guess]

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[One of the old houses, near Train Station]

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[Probably the most visually appealing detail- Ghost Structure with Bicycle by Beatty artist Albert Szukalski]


If you are in the area, do yourself a favor and visit Rhyolite. It's a treat


Keane Wonder Mine

This one far exceeded expectations. Abandoned mining facility in Funeral Mountains east of Death valley. Trailhead is accessed via 3 miles dirt road, about halfway between Daylight Pass road and Beatty Junction. It is passable for cars and even easier than Darwin road, but after rains it could get flooded. Hike reports I found on Internet suggested trail ends about a mile up, but nothing can be further from the truth. Beautiful trail continues high up in Funeral mountains and you climb up at least 500m vertical to upper structures - from where trail still continued on! This is real hike, not just brief tourist walkabout. Trail is challenging at times with sharp bedrock, couple of briefly exposed sections and some light scrambling even. Just don't do it midday in summer. Pics:


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[Lower mining facility just few minutes from parking - this is where most people will turn back]

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[Trail above upper Mining facility, where I expected it would end. It climbs on left side towards the shelf upper center of photo and top mining facility]

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[Sunset over Death Valley from upper part of Keane trail. I had hopes for beautiful colors seeing not-so-often present clouds, but it didn't quite materialize. Panamint range and Telescope Peak on horizon]

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[Top mining facility and where I turned back - but trail still continues above and I am quite sure it climbs up to Funeral ridge above]
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Last edited by zeljkok; 11-20-2021 at 02:51 AM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 11-20-2021, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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Wildrose Peak (9064 ft / 2765m)


Wildrose is Telescope younger brother. It is situated at north end of Panamint range and trailhead is the same as for Telescope - parking by famous Charcoal Kilns at top of Wildrose Canyon. This is moderate hike, with ~700m elevation gain and ~7km (1-way) - but it is all above 2000m, so air is bit thinner. Trail is well defined and circles through semi-open forest across several bumps before climbing summit cone in series of wide switchbacks. Summit views are phenomenal, in all directions, it seemed even better than Telescope even if Wildrose is lower. Had the summit to myself, but didn't stay as long as I wanted because of cold wind. Photo story:


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[Charcoal Kilns - even if you don't go hiking, it is well worth driving up here to see this. Last 3miles are on rough dirt road, but passable for cars with due care]


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[Wildrose Peak trailhead table, just behind the kilns. Posted distance is 4.2miles (1-way) but my GPS said a bit more]


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[Pano of Wildrose Canyon near trail start; this is where you drive up. Initial portion of the trail is flat for about 15min]


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[Looking back from the switchbacks after traversing couple of forested bumps center / center-left below]


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[After cresting final bump, easy ~100m of intervening ridge leading to the summit that had cairn and register]


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[Wildrose summit register. I don't sign these in Canada anymore, but I did sign this one - how often do you get to climb peaks in Death Valley after all? Think I will be the only Canadian to sign it this year]


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[.. and a selfie, ya I was there. 2014 Telescope, 2021 Wildrose]


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[Summit view north; that is Sierra Nevada extreme left in the distance]


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[.. and a summit pano looking south in general direction of L.A]


Just love Death Valley, it has something for everyone, and will always keep calling me back
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-24-2021, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Finishing off - for this time - with couple more sights and short hikes


First bit more of Rhyolite which was probably overall highlight. Wanted some shots against the blue sky and it worked really well. These 2 are by Museum


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[Abstract metal sculpture, intended to be a portrait of Shorty Harris, a desert prospector]


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[More of that "Last Supper" by Albert Szukalski; you really gotta see these!]


Then not-so-short hike on Mesquite Dunes, quite popular spot between Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Crowds thin out the further you go, and if you aim for obvious highest dune you are likely to have it to yourself. Caution: Going in sand is slow, and barefoot might be best option. Do NOT go without water; this was second half of November and it was over 30 Celsius. Try to link up the "ridges"; climbing up the "face" in sand is worse than worst Rockies scree!


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And finally mandatory stop at Zabriskie Point; it is tourist crazy but quite famous spot. Specially for sunset photographers & there is tons of these shots floating on Internet. Short trail leads from the parking to knoll above, but if you have more time there is trail leading down the canyon and linking up with valley road. Again, don't go without water and if visiting in summer months don't go in middle of day; think I read of someone actually having serious accident awhile ago due to heat and dehydration
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post #4 of (permalink) Old Yesterday, 04:05 PM
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Fantastic photos and another interesting place I've never been.

More on the history of rhyolite, named after the material in which the gold that led to town's founding occurred:
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/nv-rhyolite/
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post #5 of (permalink) Old Today, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdBrook View Post

More on the history of rhyolite, named after the material in which the gold that led to town's founding occurred:
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/nv-rhyolite/
That's very good link. It's one of several that popped up when I googled "Ghost Towns Beatty Nevada" (Beatty is most economic place to stay near Death Valley).

Interesting enough there was lunar eclipse when I was there. I planned to get up & be in Rhyolite at 4am for some crazy shots of these ghost buildings in foreground with eclipsed moon above, but didn't wake up on time

Highly recommend Rhyolite. And there's not many crowds either. Will try to post more pics when I find time
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