Death Valley: We started the week in the lowest, hottest, and driest place in America… Death Valley National Park. Fortunately, the springtime temperatures kept things relatively comfortable at a dry 100 degrees. We had one day to see some of the most accessible sights: Golden Canyon (where portions of the original Star Wars was filmed), Badwater Basin (the lowest point in the valley), Artist’s Palette (a scenic drive through colorful mesas and foothills), and Furnace Creek (an oasis town that’s home to the main visitor center.). This photo was taken at Devil’s Golf Course, where the land is so parched that it forms small mounds encrusted with evaporated crystals of borax and salt. Death Valley was otherworldly (NASA testing grounds for the Mars rover, in fact) but also diverse and colorful under the shifting sun.
Zion NP: From Death Valley, we drove the RV straight on through to southwestern Utah. Our plan was to see Zion National Park for a couple of days before finishing out the week in Las Vegas. Our two days in Zion allowed us to see the main canyon, where the Virgin River has spectacularly cut through 3,000 feet of brilliant red sandstone. We hiked along the river and also to the seasonal Emerald Falls. We also took advantage of the warmish weather and tent camped in a nearby campground. Zion was amazing and we really just scratched the surface there. Fortunately, we’ll be heading back for more at the start of next week.
Red Rock Canyon: On Thursday, we left the RV in Utah and backtracked to Las Vegas for a little fun. The big attraction for us: seeing our ISB friends, the Merritts! Our first destination with them was Red Rock Canyon, an incredible natural formation just on the outskirts of town. The visitor center had a great display of desert ecosystems, and then we headed into the hills for an afternoon of hiking and family fun.
Las Vegas: Friday night, we hit the Vegas Strip. This first foray into town was a family affair, so we stuck to kid-friendly attractions like the Bellagio Fountain and Hershey’s Chocolate World. Some of our best entertainment, however, came from people-watching on the street, which was filled with costumed characters, street performers, and partygoers of all varieties. This was a different kind of “educational experience” for the boys, but one that’s uniquely American. Viva Las Vegas!
We still have another day here and are looking forward to a visit to Hoover Dam. It’s been great catching up with friends and experiencing this amazing city in the desert.