California, United States

Death Valley and Alabama Hills

California United States

When my boyfriend told me we couldn’t go camping as planned in Death Valley due to the hot weather, I was kind of bummed. I was really excited to experience the desert bloom. Change of plans ended us in Alabama Hills. I’d never heard of Alabama Hills before but, let me tell you, it is completely underrated! The second we pulled into the side road that took us to the camping area, I spotted the snowy, white tops of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I instantly fell in love with our campsite. We were completely surrounded by huge rocks and an 80 degree breeze. The weather was so lovely that my boyfriend and I chose to sleep in the back of his Honda Element with the back open.

We left early in the morning for a little over an hour drive to Death Valley for sunrise. Our first stop was the sand dunes in Mesquite. It was only around 9am and it was already blazing outside. There was even a sign that said “Do not walk past 10am.” P.S they don’t allow dogs in most of the areas in Death Valley. We walked for around 45 minutes up and down the dunes and let me tell you what a workout that was. My burning calves were completely worth the pictures my boyfriend captured. The sand was really soft; I ended up taking off my boots and walking around barefoot.

Our next stop was the lowest point in Northern America, Badwater Basin. Windy is an understatement. Everyone was losing their hats and my ponytail was whipping me in my face. It’s a short little trek to the huge field of salt; completely white in its entirety. Looking around, you’re either staring up a huge mountain face or staring out to a field of what looks like snow. Definitely a picturesque place.

On our way back, we made a pass through Artist Drive. It was a beautiful, one way scenic route that was totally worth the drive. The road was short and winding; it felt like the Cars ride at Disneyland. We were surrounded by mountains including some colorful ones that were formed by minerals. Such a beautiful cruise! I definitely recommend.

That afternoon we headed back to our campsite in Alabama Hills. We went on a small hike around the area to the top of a mountain and watched a beautiful sunset. They have a few marked trails but it’s easy to find your way up the mountains and back to your campsite. The weather was back to a pretty 80 degrees and we enjoyed the rest of our starry night by the campfire. This is definitely a new favorite location for us.

Contributed by Vanessa Granados