Death Valley is in Eastern California, in the Mojave Desert. It is the lowest, driest, and hottest location in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below sea level. This point is only 84.6 miles (136.2 km) ESE of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet
Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere, 134 °F at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913, just short of the world record, 136 °F (57.8 °C) in Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya, on September 13, 1922.
We drove Route 50 to get to Great Basin. The Nevada portion crosses the center of state and was named The Loneliest Road in America by Life magazine in July 1986. While we drove on it, we never passed another car, nor did we have any behind us. Our trip started with an excursion to a Triolbite Quarry, where we dug through stones to find the 30 million year old trilobites! We continued on to the park and spent some time exploring Lehman Caves. We saw some wild horses when we drove away from the park and ended in Cathedral Rock State Park (which looked like another planet with the crazy formations).
We hiked in Pinnacles when it was still a National Monument, but soon before it became a National Park. The hiking became a little bit hairy at the top where anyone with the slightest fear of heights would have to work hard to conquer their fears! When we arrived, a woodpecker was tearing up the place with holes in many of the trees. There were some great photo opportunities with many open views of rocks, mountains and hills in the background. Rocks have fallen over generations to form interesting formations. In some pictures, you will see mega-ton boulders over our heads, wedged into canyon walls! This was by far one of the biggest surprise parks, with much to offer and not a lot of visitors.
Easily one of the most recognizable National Parks, Yosemite is a peaceful and magical place. While we were there, snow fell overnight, blanketing the park with a fresh layer of soft powder. We followed some tracks in the snow to a spot where a coyote was eating his kill, right in front of one of the most impressive waterfalls, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls! And impressive Half Dome can be spotted from so many different places…just like Ansel Adams saw when he photographed the park in the late 1920s.
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