Death Valley. The name does not sound like a welcoming place. I imagine it is not very welcoming in the summer, with temperatures well above one hundred degrees. However, Death Valley is quite welcoming in the winter.
The destination of our family trip was Death Valley, Nevada. This was not going to be a glam trip. I figured that out with a little research. It would not exactly be roughing it either. Here is the thing, we would be staying in Beatty, Nevada, just a little outside Death Valley National Park. A convienient drive to the park. Staying inside the park was not an option. Not only were they sold out, the rooms were over $300 a night, which was beyond our budget. It ended up that our hotel was just fine. Recently remodeled rooms and nice thick walls (so we could not hear our neighbors). The main problem, the reason I say it was going to be a bit hard, was that we would have to bring food for our trip. Yes, that is correct, be sure to bring lots of food to Death Valley.
Beatty only has a hand full of restaurants. Our oppinion was that they were not even close to being somewhere we would recommend. We tried the VFW, as it got good reviews. None of us thought much of the food there. I ordered the shrimp scampi. While the shrimp was delicious, the noodles were very greasy and had enough garlic to ward of vampires. They also did not give me the bread that was to come with the meal. Our adult kids, who normally like French dip sandwhiches, did not have anything good to say about these. We tried another local establishment. As soon as we walked in, we were told that they had to close but would reopen in a half hour. Something sketchy about that. We ate at Denny’s. Not a five star restaurant, but the burgers and fries were better than anything else in town. The last night we took a different way out of the park and found a Mom and Pop style Mexican restaurant. Everyone liked that meal except my husband, who said it was just ok. I might add that we took all our meals to go and ate them at the hotel or in the car.
We did not see options in the park for food, although the hotels were supposed to have restaurants. I HIGHLY recommend bringing a cooler full of food. We did this and were thankful of it. We brought food for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Our hotel had a microwave and refrigerator. I made a simple pasta salad for dinner the first night and packed it on ice. We ate the rest of the dinners out from restaurants the rest of the trip, but were not overly joyed at the quality of the food to choose from. Beatty does not have a grocery store, the nearest was over an hour away, we were told. They only have a Family Dollar, which has a few food items.
Getting over the food obsticles, the park was beautiful. Winter is the perfect time to go, as the temperatures are perfect for hiking in a desert. It was a bit cooler than I had orignally thought it might be. I was glad I researched the weather and packed accordingly. December in Death Valley was cold for a So Cal gal. I wore a light winter jacket, every day, over a hooded sweatshirt and was glad for it. Dressing in layers is always a good idea. A hat or earband would also be highly recommended as would gloves for the early morning chill. We even saw a few snow flakes while in the park. Some areas of the park are warmer than others due to terrain and altitude differences.
Every day of the trip we saw wild burro wondering about. They are running around Beatty and some can be spotted close to the park entrances. There are mixed reviews as to whether or not they are friendly. Some say they can be petted, others say to keep your distance. We also saw coyote.
The dunes were vast and beautiful. The mountains were colorful and majestic. The hiking was plentiful. The desert was grand.
Here are some lovely views of the park…
As always, Happy Travels!