We based our operations in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Shadows of Rushmore RV Park, $10/night with Coast to Coast. It was a nice resort and convenient to everything. While there we visited Mount Rushmore, where we met Nick Clifford, the last surviving sculptor of the monument.I bought his book and he autographed it. It was a nice visit and I understand that he recently celebrated his 98th birthday. We also visited Custer State Park, which I enjoyed enough that we went for a second day. The Badlands was also beautiful and breathtaking. Deadwood and Lead were also interesting places with so much western history. All in all this was a wonderful stop but it was cut short as I had to come home due to a family emergency on the 15th. More about that later.
I do recommend visiting this area. South Dakota is a beautiful state and the people are very friendly and inviting. There is a lot to see here. This blog is mostly pictures with descriptions. Please enjoy.
I flew out of Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota at 5 AM on June 15, headed to Raleigh Durham Airport (RDU) in North Carolina. The Rapid City Airport had two runways and seven gates. I flew a Delta small jet, capacity 50 people, to Minneapolis. I arrived in RDU around 8:30 PM and was so glad to see my son waiting for me. My mother’s condition had worsened so I had to cut my trip short. Travel is on hold for me for a bit and while it is, I’m going to blog about my family’s journey with Alzheimer Disease. I will be brutally honest, sharing insights, and I hope it helps someone. Please stay tuned.
We arrived on April 16 at Preferred RV Resort (Good Sams $18/night), Pahrump, NV, for an adventure that spilled over to Death Valley, California. We stayed until the 28th and enjoyed many days in the desert, which was in full bloom. I never thought about a desert in bloom but let me tell you that it was beautiful. We averaged hiking about 6 miles a day and enjoyed every minute of it. The Furnace Creek area was 102 degrees but no humidity. Just remember to take plenty of water, sunscreen, good hat and walking shoes. We made an obligatory trip over to Las Vegas (haven’t lost anything there), and we enjoyed ghost towns, China Ranch, Manzanar, Hoover Dam and last but not least Chicken Ranch!
Death Valley National Park is Homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe and is on the border of Nevada and California. 91% is wilderness area and the Valley is the hottest, driest place in North America with annual rainfall of 1.5 inches in the basins to 15 inches in the surrounding mountains. We were fortunate to be there in a full blooming spring desert. There were amazing salt flats and Badwater Basin with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. The Valley encompasses the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert. Elevations vary as does the terrain. Titus Canyon was one of my favorite places, accessed by a one way gravel/dirt/boulder 28 mile road(?). Blooming plants draped many canyon surfaces and looked like hanging baskets. Loved it!
Dante’s View is a scenic terrace overlooking the Valley from 5,476 feet above sea level and on a crest of the black mountains. For the adventurous soul, hiking out to the edges of the terrace is very rewarding in wonderful views.
Zabriski’s Point is part of the Amargosa Range and was formed 5 million years ago when an ancient lake dried up. Erosion and volcanic activity caused the landscape.
Furnace Creek is 192 feet below sea level and has the record of the highest temperature on earth, recorded at 201 degrees on July 15, 1972. It has a population of 24 hardy souls.
Artist Palette Drive is on an alluvial fan and the landscape was created by volcanic activity in the Miocene Period. It is known by the various colorful rocks.
Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level and is so named because the water is inundated by salts from the surrounding area and is undrinkable.
Ashford Mill Ruins is the remnants of a gold mine started in 1914 by the Ashford brothers. It played out around 1938.
China Ranch and Date Farm is another favorite. We stocked up on dates and breads. Delicious and the ranch was an interesting place. It is located in an oasis on the Amargosa River, adjacent to Death Valley. It is family owned and operated and surrounded by abandoned gold mines. The trip in was a “trip!” Some history can be found here: http://www.chinaranch.com/category_s/25.htm
Rhyolite Ghost Town is on the eastern edge of Death Valley. It was founded as a gold mine by industrialist Charles M Schwab in 1906 and closed in 1911. At it’s peak in 1906 the population was some over 3,000. Next to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum which is wonderfully eclectic.
Goldwell Open Air Museum at Rhyolite is a one room museum with historical pictures and artifacts from the area. Interactive art is on the grounds outside. The museum was started after the death of Albert Szukalski, a Belgian artist who created the first sculpture there, “The Last Supper” in 1984. It is eclectic and wonderful.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure. Titus Canyon, the tragic tale of Manzanar Internment Camp, and more. Thanks for reading!