Death Valley is apparently the largest national park in the U.S. outside Alaska, and it feels like it!
There is a rare, special but very desolate beauty here which makes it unmissable. It is also however - and unsurprisingly - a particularly harsh, unforgiving and seriously hot environment which has to be respected. We found Zabriskie Point to be our own particular highlight but didn't care for the almost surreal and incongruous Las Vegas style hotel at Furnace Creek which seems to interrupt the otherwise limitless desert landscape. To try and put things in perspective we drove around 250 miles and barely scratched the surface during a trip which proved utterly worthwhile but was hard work on both us and our vehicle. On any visit to Death Valley you will drive to heights of around 6000ft and reach depths approaching 300 ft below sea level. On the steeper ascents you will be advised to turn off the air conditioning and under such circumstances, with temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees, it is easy to see how problems may occur. Of course, in all probability, everything will be fine but this isn't Yosemite and there were times when we didn't see another vehicle for twenty minutes or so, when you just begin to wonder...'what if?' So a place not to be missed? Certainly, but do yourself a favour, take plenty of water and don't even think about it in an unreliable vehicle!
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