True West 2017 Road Trip - Day 8
Oct 28, 2017, Destinations
Las Vegas to Mammoth Lakes
Skipping ahead a few days from where I left off in the blog, this day was really all about “putting on the miles”, except that in doing so it also took me through the wonderfully arid and unique Death Valley National Park. I visited my old friend who is the sales manager for the Furnace Creek Resort (newly renamed The Oasis at Death Valley) and saw first-hand the intensive renovations under way. By the end of this year the historic Furnace Creek Inn, built in 1927, will have been entirely renovated and the new name will be The Inn at Death Valley. This really is an oasis in the desert and offers visitors a deluxe accommodation to return to after exploring the vast landscapes of the valley itself. A real treat is to enjoy the natural mineral water pool in the evening, since it is fed by underground aquifer at a constant 85 degrees, year round. Views from the pool, looking out over the valley at the Panamint Mountain Range, are spectacular with Telescope Peak rising more than 11,000 feet above the valley floor. You don’t see such a dramatic rise in elevation very many places in the world, and none so easily accessible as Death Valley. Just a couple miles from the Inn lays The Ranch at Death Valley which is likewise undergoing a huge renovation and which offers less expensive accommodations. Wherever you decide to stay, Death Valley has a lot to offer and takes time to explore properly. For incentive groups this would be a great natural, geologic destination to contrast with the glitz and glamour of nearby Las Vegas.
Continuing past the Mesquite Sand Dunes and through the dramatic landscape of the Panamint Valley, then rising again to the summit, offers a look back at the full sweep of Death Valley for a viewpoint not to be missed. Today was a hazy day with obscured views as compared to normal so the photography doesn’t remotely match the drama of the landscape. As I descended westward into the Owens Valley the incredible wall of the Sierra Nevada Mountains faced me straight-on. Mount Whitney was dead-ahead, the highest peak in the 48 contiguous United States. This day it was shrouded with a foggy mist giving off an ominous look for anyone attempting to reach the summit. I kept driving north along this great scenic highway until reaching my destination of Mammoth Lakes. Waiting for me was my accommodation for the night in yet another winter/summer wonderland, and one of the great ski resort towns of California. In summer it’s a backpackers and hikers paradise, not to mention the world-class fly fishing in the regional rivers and lakes. I’ll end my travel journal here and pick it back up again several days later because I managed to spend some down time with friends in the high mountains of the Sierra. Next stop for readers will be Park City and Deer Valley, Utah.