Titus Canyon, Death Valley, Part 2

This morning in Beatty, we looked for places to eat breakfast that didn’t list every dish as a “Slam.” It didn’t go well. There are several places which list breakfast hours on Google and Yelp, and yet none of them are open. So we set off on a great adventure across the casino floor from our hotel room to the Denny’s from last night. We’ve become regulars.

We went back into Death Valley today via Titus Canyon, a dirt road that climbs over the range on high rocky cliffs, passes by a small ghost town, and the dives deep into a canyon that’s barely wider than our cars. It’s a one-way back into the park and it took us a couple hours to do it, but it was the most astounding drive. Also surprisingly challenging, it gave us each a chance to put our cars through some paces. Evan experimented with the Rover’s “Hill Descent Mode,” which turns out to be a way to just be scary in low-range.

Back in Death Valley, we drove to the Furnace Creek resort town that we’re staying in to check-in, then drove further south. First, we did Artists’ Drive, a small paved loop that goes past a lot of multicolored rocks and hillsides that was incredibly pretty. Next we drove out to the expansive salt flats called “the Badwater.” With a sign that said “Sea Level” about a hundred feet up the cliff on the opposite side of the road, we walked out onto an evaporated sea that all of Death Valley drains into. The ground texture wasn’t like anything we were expecting. It’s just salt. The walking area is packed down hard and white, but extending for miles in each direction are little mounds of dirty salt crystal. It made a bizarre up-light in the harsh sun, and the wind was so extreme that it almost knocked us over. (And may also explain how we got so far out into the flats so quickly, because it took forever to walk back.)

It was getting late by this point, so we drove a little further down the park road but then headed back up to Furnace Creek for dinner and sleep. Red did develop a problem; the wheel-well liner worked its way loose in the crazy winds, which made some crazy scary sounds in the cabin. The whole thing is one big piece, so I couldn’t just pull the loose part. George had a couple machine screws I could fix it with. Also the rear bar of my roof rack wiggled its way free and now decorates the floor.