Just the name Death Valley by itself puts an image in your mind of a terrible place where you really should not be traveling to. Even though there isn’t much natural life to be found, it is an immensely beautiful area where the extreme temperatures, moon-like landscape and roads that go on forever have a certain attraction that is difficult to explain.
The highest temperature of 134 F / 56.7 C ever recorded in the entire world was at Furnace Creek in 1913. The lowest elevation in North America is at Badwater Basin. That is 282 feet or 86 meters below sea level. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous USA (all of the USA except Hawaii and Alaska) with an elevation of 14,505 feet / 4,421 meters, is only 85 miles away.
I bought a 2006 Saab 9-3 though the Saab European Delivery Program in May of 2006. After touring Europe for 3 weeks, the car was shipped to the USA and delivered to my dealer in Southern California. I applied for California license plates but it was going to take a few weeks before I would receive them. The red license plate you see in the pictures are the original Swedish export plates and it was perfectly legal to drove around with those for a month.
August seemed like a great time for a summer road trip to Death Valley. It is a great experience to drive around this area in a car you drove in Europe only a few months back. It is not too far from Los Angeles and Las Vegas and a great road trip if you have a few days to spend. Pictures say more than a thousand words but actually being there says more than a thousand pictures. Having lived most of my live in Northern Europe and the Northern USA, this desert landscape is still very exciting and holds a certain beauty that is hard to explain.
This is the lowest point you can reach with a regular car, 40 feet above the lowest point at Badwater baisin. The temperature display was steadily moving up during the drive and it reached its highest at this lowest point. Even though it was not anywhere the record, 118 degrees Fahrenheit or 48 degrees Celsius is still the hottest I ever experienced. There is not any humidity and it felt like standing in an oven. Even though the air conditioning in the car was blowing on high speed, it still kept it a comfortable temperature inside the Saab.
There are a few places you can stop if you dare to get out of the comfort of a vehicle with much cooler temperatures than the furnace outside. Harmony Borax Works was in use from 1883 to 1889 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Furnace Creek is pretty much the only place to have something to eat and it was nice to get out of the car for a while and enjoy a burger. There is a campground in Death Valley and it did not seem too busy in the middle of summer.
Zabriskie Point is another place to stop and take in some of the natural beauty. Many roads are long and straight, something you do not see every day.
Dante’s View provides dramatic views of Death Valley. It is off the main roads but well worth the detour. It is about 25 miles south of Furnace Creek.
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