Morning: Walk onto the vast salt flat at Badwater, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Next: hike 1.5 miles into Natural Bridge Canyon. Then view the teals, pinks, ochers and more of the Artist Palette formation as we travel Artist Drive. Afternoon: Visitor Center; Hike: Desolation Canyon, 1.5 hours. Total driving time 1.5 hours. No trails, hiking in washes. Terrain is uneven, unstable, with sand, gravel, and cobbles..
Breakfast at the Ranch.
We will start the day traveling by vans to the lowest place in North America, the salt pan at Badwater, 282 feet below sea level; a 25-minute, 18-mile drive. At this stop, there will be a short talk about the geomorphology and hydrology of the region and its impact on what we see, then 20-30 minutes to explore. We will then travel back up the Badwater road, stopping for a 1-hour, 1.5-mile, round-trip, hike up a wash into Natural Bridge Canyon, where we see one of the natural bridges found in Death Valley National Park; a great place for photos. Next a scenic drive along Artist Palette Drive to enjoy colorful volcanic formations, which iis how the road got its name. We then travel back to the park Visitor Center (near the hotel) for lunch.
Box lunch at Visitor Center
During lunch period, time to eat and explore the Visitor Center. After lunch, we will transfer by vans to Desolation Canyon, a 5-minute drive. Hike: 1.5 mi*; 1.5 hours* (*All hike times are approximate. The schedule is intentionally loose enough to allow for different hiking speeds, individual exploration, time for photos, etc.).
Dinner at Furnace Creek
Talk on Death Valley after dinner.