Wine Ridge RV Resort – Pahrump, NV

This was our second stay at Wine Ridge RV Resort. Follow this link to read about our first stay. We stayed for one month in order to take advantage of their great monthly rate — we paid $370 total including electricity. This time around, we requested one of the sites in the 900 row which, besides being pull throughs, offer great views of Mt. Charleston (see above pic).

During our stay, we spent a little time in Las Vegas. Travis’s sister and her boyfriend came to town to celebrate her birthday, so we were able to hang out with them a bit. I also was able to catch the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, which played at The Smith Center in Vegas. And Travis had two business trips to the Midwest while we were in Pahrump, which is one of the reasons we decided to stay there for a month.

We explored a few new places that we didn’t get around to the last time we were there. We took a day trip to Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, as well as the neighboring ghost town. Next, we headed into Beatty for lunch, where we met some of the locals (see pic below). Finally, we drove through Death Valley, making stops at Badwater Basin, Furnace Creek, and Artist’s Drive, then headed back to Pahrump.

Goldwell Open Air Museum – Began in 1984 by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski

The Entrance to the Goldwell Open Air Museum
The Last Supper by Albert Szukalski
1,000 in 1 by Cierra Pedro
Site Here! by Sofie Siegmann
Ghost Rider by Albert Szukalski

Rhyolite Ghost Town – Historic gold mining town of the early 1900s. The population in 1908 was estimated to be 5,000 to 8,000; by 1920 just 14.

Cook Bank Building Ruins
This Union Pacific Caboose sits across from the former train station.
The Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot is visible through the door of the caboose. Compared to the rest of the buildings in Rhyolite, it’s very well preserved.

Beatty, Nevada – The Gateway to Death Valley!

Some of the locals came out to say hello!

Death Valley National Park – Established as a National Monument in 1933; Redesignated a National Park in 1994.

This guy approached us looking for food — DON’T FEED WILDLIFE!
The Salt Flats of Badwater Basin

 

Furnace Creek at Death Valley NP

Furnace Creek Campground is the perfect home base for exploring Death Valley!

First, about the campground…

We knew more than six months in advance that we’d be staying here as Travis and a friend of ours had signed up for the Death Valley Half Marathon and Marathon respectively. Because of the advanced notice, I was able to book the exact site we wanted as soon as it became available through www.recreation.gov. We chose site 76 because it had full hookups and was a pull through. It was also extremely long and level and was the easiest set up we’ve had to date. The Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center was about 100 yards away and a restroom with flush toilets was about 20 yards away. There’s also a sink area near the restroom where you can wash dishes. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table, and the pull throughs are blacktopped.

The Furnace Creek area is also home to The Ranch at Death Valley which has a couple of restaurants, a golf course, a hotel, a general store, the Borax Museum, a swimming pool, restrooms, laundry facilities, sport courts and a gas station. Although there are not showers in the campground itself, The Ranch has shower facilities that you can use for $5, which also gives you access to the swimming pool. The pass is good for 24 hours, so if you time it right, you can get two days’ worth of showers out of one pass.

Exploring Death Valley…

Just like any National Park, you have to drive a little to take in all of the sights. Luckily, many of the most recommended sights Death Valley has to offer are short drives from Furnace Creek. We got to Death Valley on a Friday afternoon. After unhitching the trailer at the campground, we still had plenty of daylight left to explore. Our first stop was Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.

Next, we did the easy 1-mile-roundtrip hike to Natural Bridge.

After the hike, we went back to the campground for dinner. After all, the guys had a race to run in the morning and here’s something I didn’t think about — when the sun goes down, it gets dark. Really dark, fast — so don’t forget your headlamps. Death Valley is a Gold-Tier International Dark-Sky Association park, meaning that the skies there are affected by only the smallest amounts of light pollution, classifying it at the highest level of IDA designation. We grew up in a small town in Wisconsin where there are many open areas free of heavy light pollution, but never in my life have I seen such a dark sky and such bright stars — so amazing!

Our second day in Death Valley started with the marathon/half marathon. While the guys were running, the ladies took a drive along the nine-mile Artist’s Drive that passes through Artist’s Palette, with mineral-rich rocks displaying an array of colors.

We had a lazy afternoon involving some pool time, showers, and naps, but then decided to catch the sunset at Zabriskie Point before getting dinner at the Date Grove Diner.

On our final full day in Death Valley, we opted to do the moderately-difficult 4-mile Mosaic Canyon hike, just past Stovepipe Wells. The polished marble narrows made this hike a little interesting, but all in all I would say it’s on the low end of moderate for difficulty.

After the hike, we stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes but only looked on from afar.

As we passed back through Stovepipe Wells on our way back towards Furnace Creek, we stopped at the gas station/general store to fill the gas tank and pick up a few supplies and souvenirs. **Important Tip** The gas in Stovepipe Wells is almost a $1.50 cheaper than in Furnace Creek, so fill up there! Our last stop for the day was the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail to see if we could see the rare pupfish (we did).

We bugged out fairly early on Monday morning as we had to drop the trailer off in Pahrump and then take our friends to Las Vegas, and then head back to Pahrump. Death Valley was very cool and we’re looking forward to exploring it again in the future. Dante’s View and Scotty’s Castle were both closed while we were there and we didn’t get the chance to drive over to Racetrack Playa to see the ‘sailing stones’.