death valley national park
After camping in Joshua Tree, spending a few nights in Alabama Hills driving up and down Whitney Portal Road, we made our way to Death Valley National Park with high expectations. Honestly, I don't know if it was because we were tired, or we had spent the last week in absolutely amazing places, but Death Valley left a lot to be desired. The park is massive, so we got to go through quite a bit of it as we drove in. We ended up stopping at the sand dunes and not even getting out of the car because it was such a gong show! Think: hundreds of kids sliding down dunes. So we headed towards badwater basin (the salt flats) and did the painter's palette loop on our way. Painter's Palette was really cool, I loved that we could go out there and play on the colored hills instead of just look at them. After that, we went to badwater basin as the sun was going down. We actually had to run from the parking lot to make it to the "real" salt flats before it was too dark and I'm not even sure if we really got to them. It would have been nice to get there earlier, or to go out for sunrise when it would be less crowded. Did I mention the CROWDS?
We got so spoiled camping in the Bamas, feeling like we were the only people in the world! Death Valley felt more like a theme park. We even waited in car lines a few times. I might have declared my love for BLM land 10 times that day. We ended up camping that night in a very crowded campground right next to a group that insisted on facetiming their friend at 11pm. We pretty much high-tailed it out of the park the next morning. Honestly, I might be willing to give Death Valley a second chance if it were on route, but at this point I don't know if I'd ever mind not coming back! I didn't expect such a big park to be so crowded, and I really didn't see anything that I felt a desire to return for. But we got a few rad photos, and I'm glad we can say we've been there ;)