This is how we started day 3 in Death Valley. Hiking up the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes was no joke! The highest dune in the flat was about 10 stories tall (130-140ft) but it was probably 2 miles into the dunes. Plus, walking in soft sand isn’t particularly easy with a ton of elevation change (albeit small hills). The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are located near the center of DV and right by Stovepipe Wells. Again, we started this hike in the AM, but unlike the other hikes, it was uncovered and soon got quite warm.
These dunes aren’t the largest in the area, but it was the most accessible. It was actually pretty impressive how much sand was in what was probably a 5mi x 10mi area. And of course, we had to hike out to the tallest dune. The sand is similar to walking in powder and some parts were very steep and surprisingly I got winded pretty easy hiking up these dunes. Or maybe I’m just out of shape from being sick for a number of weeks :P. In either case, the dunes were definitely worth the effort!
Next up on the list was the Ubehebe Crater. This spot is pretty far north in DV and was about an hour drive from Furnace Creek. The crater was pretty cool because of the story of what happened. Apparently the magma rose up in the ground and flashed the underground water into steam, creating a hydrovolcanic eruption spewing rocks everywhere.
A short hike up to the right and you’ll find Little Hebe. It was basically a smaller version of the big hebe, but it was a nice spot to stop. To the West, you could see cars driving the dirt road to the Racetrack Playa. South was Telescope Peak and behind us was the big hebe.
Next up was Scotty’s Castle. This was the one surprising spot on the trip, as I expected it to not be very cool at all. I guess it was very interesting to see a castle (more of a Mission than a castle) in the middle of the valley. There was some cool history there, a picnic area and Scotty’s grave at the top of the hill.
Finally, after visiting Scotty’s Castle, we drove about an hour to Beatty, NV. Before that, we stopped by the ghost town of Rhyolite before sunset. The town itself wasn’t that impressive, since there were a few buildings left standing (but mostly rubble). However, there was some cool artwork done by Albert Szukalski (a Belgian artist). Below are three images – two of his interpretations of “ghosts” and one of something else that was peculiar in a different way.
Finally, the sun setting over Rhyolite. It gets surprisingly windy out there… the guide at the museum says that on bad days, it gets up to 100mph! After the sun started to set, we went to our motel at Beatty, NV and stopped by Jed’s Jerky and KC Outpost for dinner. We had pizza again, but this time it was wayyy better than the crap we had at Furnace Creek.