I left Pahrump about mid-morning in search of the Valley of Death. It's actually quite difficult to miss when headed in the correct direction. Ha!
After arriving into the park, I stopped in to the Furnace Creek visitor center and picked up a park map for reference. I headed south into Badwater Basin - well below sea level.
There is a paved road that runs along the east side of the basin, and a gravel road to the west. I (of course) chose to run the unpaved route. With the intent to get out to Racetrack Playa later on, I chose to conduct an experiment. The park map indicates 4x4 roads on their map, but does not specify any more than high clearance and 4-wheel drive capable vehicles. With that in mind, I decided to run a few of the 4x4 specific canyon trails off of the gravel road... to see if I could get a handle on what exactly that meant for me. I found that of all the trails I chose to do, I was able to do them all - one in particular I had to be a little more creative with my lines than I would have had to in the KJ... but it was still passable. Good to know, for future reference.
While in Badwater Basin, I also took the time to check out the regular tourist hotspots - things like the Devil's Golf Course and the Artist's Canyon, as well as taking in the stunning landscapes and clouds.
From there, I went back up to the visitor center to inquire about the Racetrack Road... things like whether or not it's better to air down, time to travel, etc. I chose to not go today - with 4 hours to get out there, it would have been dark long before I arrived - NOT something I'd prefer to drive on the dark. And, I don't think I want to take the day tomorrow to go. If I left my campground in the morning, I would arrive there for the harsh mid-day light... not great for photos. What I need to do is possibly come back here on my way home, get into the park by noon or so, and then go from there... that way I get sunset, stars, and sunrise all in one go. So that's the tentative plan.
Tomorrow, I plan to hit up the other sights inside the park, and maybe another short trail or two... and be headed out by mid-afternoon.
Goodnight from Stovepipe Wells!
*some of today's phone images*