While it is sad to leave family behind after several great weeks, we most certainly had the itch to get back on the road. Not to mention to seek out some warmer weather for a while. Where could we find such weather, should not be a problem in Death Valley! After our travels took us through the ghost town of Metropolis, which we blogged about last week, we hung around a few more days in Nevada. This would
be our first experience with staying at a casino overnight. In the little town of Jackpot just inside the Nevada border we made a stop at Cactus Petes Casino and Resort. While it is not the nice open BLM land or state park environment we enjoy the most, it was not half bad. There was some grass and the place was pretty empty and for only $16 a night with hookups we figured why not. While in town we took advantage of a cheap steak dinner, the cost of which was covered with my blackjack winnings, even better. There was some 4wheeling and geocaching as well prompting us to stay for two nights. The same could not be said for our second stop in Elko, Nevada. There we found only a really crappy RV park behind a sort of blah casino. We were parked among a bunch or semi-permanent trailers, you know the ones with rigid foam insulation cut and duct taped together around the outside to protect the underside from freezing. It was even complete with some vehicles that I am pretty sure were not operable parked around as well. All this loveliness for a mean $32 a night. The only bright side was full hookup, so we took advantage and did a very complete flushing of our black tank and grey tanks and cleaned inside the service bay. Also packed us full of fresh water for the next week of boondocking.
Along the way we stopped for a night in Tonopah, Nevada hoping to meet up with our nephew David who lives and works in the area
Unfortunately he was not back from a hunt in Arizona while we were there. The Tonopah Brewing Company was just opened back in August of this year and we
decided to stop in. The beers were pretty good, a couple very good, but for sure the food was great. They specialize in all types of bbq with their own sauces. Really liked the ribs and burnt end sandwich. They also have a very unique brewing setup shipped al the way over from Germany. The area around Tonopah is mostly BLM land so we scoped out a spot to stay for the night just outside town. In the evening and morning we had visits from the local wild horses in the area, pretty cool. There is an excellent mining attraction in town called the
Tonopah Historic Mining Park. It took us a few hours and several miles of walking to explore the whole place and I think we took over 200 pictures.
Our next mission was Death Valley National Park. This is really the first national park we have spend any time in since starting our full
time travel. It is not that we don’t like National Parks, it is just that they have some
major drawbacks in our opinion. First off, they are not pet friendly at all, no pets on trails. The puppies are only allowed in the campgrounds and parking lots and nowhere else. While we understand the reasons for this, for us it means having the pups locked up in the RV while we enjoy hikes and the outdoors. That is certainly no fun for them, especially when there are a zillion other places we can go that they get to participate and go along. Second thing we are not overly fond of is paying big money for camping. Many national parks can cost upwards of $40 per night for packed in sites with no hookups. Death Valley is a little better in that regard, we have stayed in two very nice semi-dispersed campgrounds for only $12 and $14 per night. Being full time RVers, we come prepared and stocked with food and supplies, but we cannot help but check out the general stores and see the crazy prices they charge for things. At Furnace Creek the cheapest six pack of beer is $13.45 and a 1lbs propane tank is $13.25! I would hate to have to buy necessities here!
The park is much different from what we expected. There is actually lots of water here. Fresh water springs seem to be all over the park
and many produce hundreds of gallons of water a minute. Scotty’ Castle actually produced electricity for years with a Pelton Water Wheel feed from the nearby spring turning a generator! Speaking of Scotty’s Castle, we did take the house and underground tour and found
them both very interesting. Another unexpected aspect of the park is the elevation range. We have been as high as 6000′ and as low as -282 (lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin) within the park ourselves, and the highest peak in the park, Telescope Peak, is actually 11,049′ feet high. The vast landscape on either side of “the valley” is very impressive. The 4wheel drive road through Titus Canyon I would say is one of two highlights of our visit. The narrows portion of the canyon is just awesome and the entire drive is amazing. Our second highlight would be The Racetrack, where rocks move along the wet playa and leave “tracks” in the dry bed. Some of the tracks we saw were several hundred feet long. While they have solved the mystery of the movement (I will let you read about that yourself here), it is still really cool to see. What was not cool was the condition of the twenty seven mile dirt road to get to the racetrack. Toni and I have been 4wheeling and driving dirt roads for years and years, and in our opinion this was the worst washboard road we have ever been on. I am pretty sure we took years off the life of the Jeep over the fifty four miles in and out of there. The beagles in the back of the Jeep looked like those old electric football games where the field would shake and the little men would vibrate all over the place! I am sure they were cursing us in some hound dog language for dragging them out there and to top it off, they had to wait in the Jeep and could not go out onto the playa.
Overall we have enjoyed our time in Death Valley. While in the Mesquite Campground we meet a great family on a journey all the way from Alaska. Boe and Jen along with their young son and daughter are traveling in a 1964 Airstream exploring the country and deciding on a new place to settle down. It was cool to learn that we had a common interest, craft beer. In fact, Boe was recently the brewmaster/owner
at Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna, Alaska! They will be in the Phoenix area around the holidays and we hope to meet up for some beers while we are both in town. We have also been basking in the 65-72 degree “heat”, which has been a nice thawing out for us. The RV no doubt is loving the warmer temps. So next we will head back into Nevada for some mountain biking and perhaps beach time at Lake Mead before we return to Phoenix for the holidays as well. So until next time, thanks for reading and as always we love comments!This entry was posted in Blog and tagged death valley, death valley national park, fulltime, kuhl, rv, rvlife, tonopah by Kurt Kuhl and comments are open.