Snowy peaks ahead!

Parting Ridgecrest was easy, after a cosy breakfast watching soccer with two other couples (I guess there were not more guests at the hotel) we left and headed for the second National Park in the USA, which also is the biggest in the lower 48 states: Yosemite National Park.
Home of two valleys where Giant Sequoia can be found, and four different habitats. Ranging from highland alpine meadows to thick pine forests; this park has them all.

We entered the park via highway 140 and the Tioga Pass. Only since June 8th is this mountain pass opened for traffic, which at over 10 thousand feet altitude is not a big surprise.

The park is huge! After driving for about 3 hours, we reached the valley, the park it’s visitor centre. After that, it took us another 40 minutes to get to the exit and yet another 20 to get to the hotel. So that is 4 straight hours driving to get from the east entrance to the south exit! The park is spectacular! Best park so far.

We particularly liked a part called High Sierra, which is flat highland almost alpine meadows and grassland. Because this is very high up the mountain there still was quite some snow up there which made for some very lovely views and equal pictures. I think we could’ve spent an extra day up there just to get to grips with the beauty of the scenery. Unfortunately we had to get a move on to go to the hotel.

We passed by the other types of land and eventually made it to a place called El Portal where the hotel Cedar Lodge was located. It is quite warm up here! Still in the 30s degrees Celsius, and the airco in the room is very much needed.
There are four dining facilities in the vicinity (that is within 30 miles distance both ways) 2 a la carte restaurants, a grill restaurant and a pizza place. We quickly figured out that today there would be grilled food on the menu and tomorrow pizza!

What stays in Vegas…

What stays in Vegas… doesn’t leave Vegas. It is as simple as that. So we left. Checked out, tugged al baggage to the car and drove off. Destination? Ridgecrest.

Our main goal for today was not Ridgecrest, as one might have guessed; it is Death Valley.
The lowest and hottest point of North America. Today it was a mere 43 degrees in the shade at the visitors center, so at Badwater (at -68 metres the lowest and hottest point) it was several degrees warmer.

We went out to see all major points on the roadside and after the advice of the very cheerful National Park Ranger “In this weather, you don’t want to walk more than 20 metres from your car” we kind of did.
At Badwater, we walked about half a kilometre over the salt crust to the more virgin salt crust and took some pictures. Very impressive, and equally warm!

Other points of interest we attended were: Zabriskie Point, Dantes View, the Towne pass, Badwater and Artists Drive. The last is a very scenic drive to several bumps and big rocks on a hillside with loads of different colors. There are yellow, green, blue, red and all other tones to be seen in these formations which is fascinating.

Leaving Death Valley is not an easy task as it is surrounded by three big mountain ranges. You have a steep climb to come in and an even steeper descend to go out. After that there virtually is nothing there, as it simply is yet another dry, low valley where almost nothing lives.

There are a few people though, in places called Trona and Ridgecrest (formerly known as Crumville). Tomorrow off to Yosemite National Park!