Originally we thought we would spend 2 nights camping in Death Valley National Park, but having stayed in Las Vegas for a day longer than planned, it was easier to cut out one night from Death Valley and not adjust any plans after that. Now don’t misunderstand, Death Valley is novel and interesting, beautiful even… but it was hot as the devil’s butt crack! We arrived at the peak of mid day sun, so that was our bad, but it’s still so cold in other places… our bodies were so confused!
We left Las Vegas earlier than is our habit, and got a couple of hours of solid riding done out of Nevada. We were on our way to head into Death Valley and realized how low we were on gas with nothing around for miles (20 miles to be exact), so we made a fuel-up detour first. It turns out there is a gas station inside the park 🙂 something we’ve never seen in a national park before. Unlike other National Parks, Death Valley doesn’t have a manned entrance on the eastern side, there is just a digital collection box. You input how many people or vehicles, swipe your card and take the receipt with you to the Visitor Center. The first-come-first-served campsites work much the same way – an unmanned box at the campground entrance, find an empty site and go pay the permit fee for however long you wish to camp. Much more efficient than having an air-conditioned room set up and have someone hang out all day, though I don’t know how busy it gets there.
Rolling into the first campground we came across, we were surprised to see how many people were camping! Not just RVs, there were a lot of tents, in every bit of shade they could find. I’m pretty sure we took the last spot with some little bit of shade, way at the back of Furnace Creek campground. It was only $12 for the night and luckily they have a water station; no showers, but we had all the water we could drink… or fill up our solar shower with. We did not even set up our tent when we got to our campsite – we promptly took a nap and left the solar shower in the sun.
A couple of coyotes trotted a couple of feet past our tent; they’re much smaller than I imagined! Cute little wild creatures, more fox-like than canine, they graced us by stopping 15 feet away and defecating next to our campsite before trotting away. We had dinner made just as night fell and when it was good and dark out we had a nice warm shower before bed :). If we had a little more time we really would have wanted to see the salt pans in the park, watch the sunset on an overlook, and take the bad water scenic road, but neither of us are well adapted for blistering heat, and we were eager to see the Joshua trees. It was a great ride out, passed a lot of friendly Harleys, rich motorists likely from Las Vegas, and we were lucky not to witness any flash floods – a biker warned us this was a prime area when clouds are nearby.