Week 24: The Ultimate Final Desert experience: Death Valley National Park

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We finished out this week and six months of our RV trip with an end to our desert travels. Since Jan 5th we have been in the desert regions of the South West.

What an amazing adventure we’ve had. The South West (so far) is one of our favorite regions in the USA. The beauty and outdoor adventures that can be had here are unrivalled almost anywhere in the world.

And we finished it an no more unique and beautiful place than Death Valley!

zabriskie point death valley (800 x 600)

Yes, We managed to get there. We contemplated it before but was difficult due to a lack of RV hookups. Now we’re set up for boondocking that doesn’t affect us so much.

This time we didn’t think we’d get there because the temps had soared into the low 100s.

Except for Thursday and Friday where they dipped down to the low 80s. I was now or never!

I was quite comfy lazing by the pool at our RV Resort in Vegas. Yes. Can you believe we went back there? The last RV park we stayed at was the Oasis Las Vegas RV REsort and it was the first one we stayed at after 6 weeks of boondocking!!!

I also didn’t want to return to the desert dust after spending a couple of days cleaning the red my and dust out of Goldie.

I’m glad we took our dragging feet there. Death Valley is sensational and so much better than I was expecting.

It was a phenomenal way to exit the desert.

Mesquite Sand Dunes Death Valley

Thank you for all your encouragement trying to get us there.

I have loved our time in the desert but I am definitely ready to leave.

Lately, all I can think of is green forest. I just want to be surrounded by endless trees.

The weather continues to interrupt us however. We had to cancel Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park, which we were devastated about.

They’ve had a big snow storm come through and snow is falling almost every day for more than a week. You know that’s just not fun. Add it to the itinerary when we come back to Bryce Canyon (as we mentioned last week, weather forces us to cancel on that)

But that cancellation did open up space and cooler temps for Death Valley so we’re grateful for that.

I’m also ready to ready to return to the land of the living. Good local food and wine experiences and a few city stays mixed in. The next few months as we explore Northern California and Pacific North West will be epic.

Oh and the heat returned. Happy Days. Except now we’re headed back to the cold and rain. At least I had a week of heat and soft coconut oil and butter. Thank you Universe for your blessings.

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This week 24 wrap up of our USA road trip shares our adventures from Saturday to Friday.

I publish the posts on Sunday (I need a few days to prepare it!) More in-depth posts on each region with loads of tips and suggestions will be coming soon.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we share the current day-to-day adventure

Camp life Hurricane

We had a dry and warm couple of days closing out our stay at St George Utah. We had a special relaxing Mother’s Day. No going out for coffee, breakfast or lunch as there are no real great options in St George. So we did what all mothers crave and not much.

Savannah took me on a bike ride through the wash, and Kalyra took me up the BMX tracks to go screaming down the hill, “I can’t believe you kids have been doing this without us watching!!”

You can’t accuse me of helicopter parenting. It was great fun and nothing I didn’t do as a child.

The mums all had mimosas for brunch and watched Wine Country together. And then the shocker Game of Thrones episode.

This was also a sad day as I learned my friend and fellow travel blogger, Rachel Jones from Hippie in Heels died unexpectantly. The world lost a radiant being there. She was one of a kind genuinely warm, kind, and humble person.

Camp life Las Vegas

Sleeping with the windows open, waking up at 5:30am and not putting on UGG boots and a robe, sweating profusely during my workout because of the heat, daily showers, and swims in the pool.

Our few days in LAs Vegas RV resort was blissful. There was a shop a few steps away to get any supplies, including wine. A far cry from Utah.

We didn’t even venture anywhere near the Strip, only leaving  the campsite once to go to the grocery store and drop off some donations to Goodwill.

We used our time in Vegas to declutter. After going through our stuff I realized we don’t have all that much and most of what we are carrying has a purpose and gets used. It felt great to get rid of a few things that were no longer needed now.

I’ve written about decluttering a few times before on this blog. It’s a very painful experience as it forces you to confront many things, especially how you are choosing to consume and how much you are living in alignment with your values.

Some things for me are hard to get rid of – like books, sadly one of the heaviest things you can carry!

So we lost some weight in Goldie and cleaned out all the red mud and dust. Actually I still find a few grains here and there. It’s so hard to get rid of what we’d call the Outback.

We didn’t have to stock up too many supplies as I’ve done so much of that lately, AND thankfully we’ll now be close to towns and cities and so can easily get what we need and don’t need to bulk buy, which I’ve realized I have a sad addiction too.

I can’t pass up a good bargain and having my favorite products on hand. (Thrive Market is one of my favorites for cheap(er), healthy, organic foods! It saves me thousands every year. )

The kids loved riding their bikes together in the park, playing mini golf and swimming.

Things we did in Death Valley National Park

I’ve almost written an entire in-depth post on our time in Death Valley. I wrote it as soon as we left the gates!! So I won’t go into too much detail here. (Be sure to join our VIP email tribe so you don’t miss it)

Death Valley is one of the most unique, striking and diverse places I’ve visited. I thought I’d seen it all, and then I saw

Zabriskie’s Point

Zabriskie point

Absolutely one of the best views I’ve ever seen. Those colors, shapes and textures are out of this world. Come here at sunset and sunrise.

Dante’s View

DAntes View

The best view of Death Valley you could ask for. Look at those swirls and colors of the salt basin. And behind us lie green blanketed mountains.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin Death Valley

Kick off your shoes and walk on the salt flats. Imagine the sea reaching the land 282 feet above you.

As soon as I hopped out of the car I felt like I was in a special place. We had gale force winds here but it didn’t dampen the experience. You can see in this photo how strong they were.

Badwater Basin salt flats Death Valley

Golden Canyon

Golden Canyon Death Valley

We loved this walk but didn’t get as far as we’d like due to Savannah not having shoes and wearing her sister’s oversized boots (See RV lessons below)

You can take this hike 1.5 miles to the red cathedral or 2.5 miles to Zabriskie’s Point (I want to come back and down that) I loved the silence in where and the colors of the canyon walls.

Artists Drive

Artists Drive Death Valley

One of the coolest scenic drives I’ve ever done. Check out that palette of color some unseen artist splashed all over the walls.

We were so lucky that this road only reopened (after years) the day before we arrived!!

Salt Creek Interpretive Trail

Salt Creek Trail Death Valley

Another sign that life exists in the valley of death. An easy boardwalk 0.5 mile trail running along a creek with the rare pupfish. The scenery here was exquisite.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

MEsquite Flat Sand Dunes Death Valley

This is where we found the crowds and miles of sand dunes trapped by the mountains nd created by the swirling winds. We went at the worst time of the day, simply because that’s all we could make work. Sunset is meant to be the time of photos and to play amongst the dunes.

Oh yeah and we saw a Chuckwalla lizard (doing pushups)

chuckwalla lizard

and a coyote causing roadblocks! So cool.

coyote death valley

RV and Travel Lessons

Rv travel Death Valley National PArk

  • Think of the shade when you set up camp. Not to get under it as you’d typically want to do, but steer clear of it so your solar panels on the roof can give you the energy you need! We had to move Goldie after setting her up in Death Valley and realizing we weren’t going to have power.
  • Plan time in a region after a long bout of travel to just regroup. A couple days in Vegas was exactly what we needed to clean, declutter and restock. Plus rest a bit. I looked longingly at the Class A beside me who called in professional cleaners to take care of his dust!! Not a bad idea.
  • Advanced summer planning is essential, especially in areas like the Pacific Northwest where boondocking options aren’t as readily avoidable as somewhere like Utah. So many places are already booked out and we are scrambling to find places. We’ve booked a few in and have a loose itinerary booked up until August! Loads of fun ahead. We’re really looking forward to Oregon and Washington.
  • Goldie and the Beast have been handling the windy road conditions pretty well. We hit some really windy conditions between Las Vegas and Death Valley and then Fresno. They have loads of windmills for a reason.
  • Check your children to make sure they are fully prepared for the day’s activities. We didn’t check in with Savannah and she jumped in the car to explore Death Valley – the hottest place on earth – with no shoes!! Luckily most places did not require them, except for Golden canyon!
  • Bloody hell the flies are back. Trying not to complain as I love the heat, but really what is the point to them except to irritate the crap out of everyone?

Where we stayed
Boondocking Hurricane on Hwy 59

boondocking Hurricane

We had two more nights at our boondocking spot in Hurricane near St George Utah. It’s a plateau surrounded by the spectacular mounts of Hurricane and St George region. Zion National Park is not far away.

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort

Has to be our favorite RV resort so far. It is listed in the Top 10 best RV resorts in the USA. You can see more in this post

Fiddler’s Camp, Death Valley National Park

fiddlers campground death valley (600 x 800)

The ranger recommended this campground to us as it had more shade. I wish I gave it more thought as it was expensive for dry camping ($24).

We didn’t have time to use their facilities or shade!! We would have gotten the same (and better views) over the road at the National Park Sunset Campground aka parking lot. ($14) All other National Park campgrounds were closed.

I’d really like to stay at the Inn at Death Valley. It looks so beautiful and has gorgeous views over the valley, salt flats and oasis.

Distance Driven

Travel Costs

RV travel costs

Each week, I include our travel related costs for the week.

I don’t include things like business costs, insurance, and souvenirs etc. That’s so personal that whatever I told you wouldn’t necessarily be true for you and your budget.

The following, apart from perhaps our groceries, will give you a reasonable estimate of costs related to travel.

If you are new to our weekly wrap, our costs each week are usually around $1,000 – $1,300. We’re really trying to stay under $1,000

Vehicle Costs

  • Fuel: $269
  • Parking: $ 
  • Uber: $

The generator is costing us a bit extra in fuel. We only use it for about an hour a day to top up. Once we get our broken batteries replaced it will be better.

Accommodation Costs

  • Camping: $235 

Attractions

  • Park Fees: $
  • Tours: $
  • Tickets: $
  • Tips: 

We have a National Parks pass which gives us unlimited access to all federal lands for $80 a year. Otherwise Death Valley would have cost $30 for a 7-day pass

Food

  • Restaurants: $ 47
  • Coffee: $
  • Groceries: $208
  • Take out/ snacks: $30

We eat a mostly whole foods, organic diet, which means our grocery bills are higher than what would be typical.

Don’t forget with eating out costs, tip will be included in the prices and the odd glass of wine or two.

RV Supplies and Living

  • Laundry: $15
  • Firewood: 
  • Propane: $
  • Supplies: $30
  • Dump: $
  • Postage: $

We had to get our chain connecting the car to the travel trailer welded as it had ground down. Very dangerous but a surprisingly cheap fix.

I realised I’ve been overstating our laundry costs each week – or the Vegas RV park is really cheap. I did six loads this week —  everything was dusty and dirty and it only cost $15.

Total paid by us: $834

We did pretty well this week considering we paid for accommodation. Welcome to California as well. Our fuel prices shot up thanks to their ridiculous prices.

Death Valley was insane – $6.20 a gallon of diesel. We had to fill up $30 worth to get out of the park and to the next cheapest gas station at $3.75. WE normally pay around $2.95 a gallon.

Where to next

Death Valley National Park California

This week we are headed to Yosemite National Park. We are excited to be visiting when the waterfalls will be full and running. We’re hoping to spend a few days exploring and a few resting at Tenaya Lodge where we’ll be staying for a few nights.

Unfortunately, we have rain predicted for our entire stay.

Time to learn to dance in it, or should I say hike in it. What can you do? We wanted to avoid Memorial Day weekend there so got the rain instead.

Then after Yosemite, we head to San Francisco. I wasn’t that enthusiastic at first to head into the city, but now I’ve been doing some planning I am really excited. San Fran is a COOL city. We haven’t been since 06. I can’t wait to show the girls, both are very excited.

Sadly we said goodbye to Crazy Family Adventure and her sister’s family. Not for too long though! We are meeting up again in two weeks after we visit San Francisco!

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You can find our previous RV weekly wrap posts here.

Our latest in-depth blog post is on 8 Awesome Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Videos of the trip coming out soon.  Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it. We’re now releasing our road trip videos.

Check out our latest video of Los Angeles beaches and the Palos Verdes Scenic Drive

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