We took a big road trip across America a couple of years back, from Los Angeles to New York. Money and time meant we didn’t drive all the way but we still covered a good distance before hopping on planes. I had only driven in Tennessee by then and I didn’t really know what to expect scenery wise, but there was one place I was anticipating: Death Valley.We drove from Lone Pine, CA in the morning and already I could see how much I was going to love it. We don’t have deserts in France or the U.K. and I think they have become one of my favourite things about America. We chose to drive on the 190 through the Valley as we were heading to Las Vegas and I wanted to see Rhyolite, a ghost town just outside.
I wasn’t disappointed. In the peak of August, it wasn’t too crowded and we could really enjoy the landscape. I loved driving up and down the winding roads listening to Ennio Morricone. It was so completely different to anything I’ve ever experienced.
My favourite part was getting out of the car in Badwater Basin and standing on the salt flats. I’ve never seen a landscape so perfectly flat anywhere else. It was hot. But almost not as hot as I wanted it to be. Of course you can’t stay out too long and I would probably fry and turn red in about ten minutes but I wanted it to be unbearably hot. That being said, be careful, bring more than enough water, wear sunscreen and don’t stay out too long! There was a sign recommending people to turn their AC off for a few miles to make sure cars don’t over heat. It gets pretty hot.
You hear all these stories about people getting lost in Death Valley and all that… Honestly to get lost I feel like you need to want to. Meaning if you stick to the main road, it’s perfectly safe. There are a few road signs but I would recommend planning the journey ahead as GPS are not working great there so it’s good to know if you need to turn right or left at a crossroad.
As I mentioned I wanted to see Rhyolite, NV because I really wanted to see a ghost town. It was founded in 1905, in 1911 the mine closed down and by 1920 the town didn’t exist anymore. Now a few buildings remain, the school and the bank, but I wasn’t as impressed as I hoped to be. I think I had in mind something bigger, so I’m still on the lookout for a “good” ghost town.
So, is going to Death Valley worth it? Yes. As simple as that. I am going back soon.
Is Rhyolite worth it? If it is on your way, then definitely have a look, it’s interesting historically to see where people were ready to settle for gold. And it is just five minutes out of Death Valley. But if you were not planning on exiting on this side, then I wouldn’t say it’s worth a detour. Going back to Death Valley, I am looking into going through Furnace Creek.