Road Trip: Death Valley & Rhyolite

Rhyolite2 - Cheers Susan

Rhyolite, CA – Cheers Susan

So often, we race through life going from place to place and end up missing the details. Or, we skip the roads that are less traveled in order to hit other people’s perceived highlights. Sometimes, you have to take chances and head down dirt roads into the middle of nowhere to find places that leave you with more questions then when you started. Like “how in the world did these these rocks get here?” or “why would someone come out here and think to mine for borax?” Sometimes you just have to be willing to step off the beaten path and open your eyes to a new world. For there is a world out there that doesn’t make the national news, doesn’t come across your social media feeds, and won’t even come up in google when searching for a weekend getaway. But, these places are no less special. And in some ways, may be even more special just because they are off the beaten path.

Death Valley is not always on the top of peoples “Places to Visit” list. Actually, it probably doesn’t even make most lists, Now, don’t get me wrong Death Valley can be brutal. It’s hotter than blazes in the summer and can be freezing in the winter. It’s a place of extremes and a place where you do not want to get lost, run out of gas, or run out of water. This place can kill you. Yet, it’s a place, that given the right conditions, is quite amazing and unique beautiful.

Lexi Photobomb Trona Pinnacles - Cheers Susan

Lexi Photobomb Trona Pinnacles – Cheers Susan

But first you have to get there… Which can mean random stops along the way… Like a stop to the Trona Pinnacles. Yes, that view Lexi is enjoying looks a lot like scenes from Planet of the Apes. Not, that I’ve ever seen Planet of the Apes, honestly, but Google told me it was a film location. Guess I might need to Netflix it so I can see what people are talking about.
In case looking for apes isn’t your thing, which by the way, we did not find any, and let me tell you Lexi tried. You can always take a slight detour to a ghost town. It’s really and abandoned mining town on your way to Nevada but ghost town sounds way more exciting. Oh, and there is this art installation before you get into the old/proper part of Rhyolite that has ghosts. So, there’s that in case art and/or ghosts are your thing. They’re really kind of neat and worth stopping to check out. The whole area is pretty cool! 

Rhyolite1 - Cheers Susan

Rhyolite, CA – Cheers Susan

Rhyolite Rubble - Cheers Susan

Rhyolite Rubble – Cheers Susan

Rhyolite3 - Cheers Susan

Rhyolite, CA – Cheers Susan

Carved Graffiti - Cheers Susan

Carved Graffiti – Cheers Susan

Miners Union Hall - Cheers Susan

Miners Union Hall – Cheers Susan

General Store Sign - Cheers Susan

Rhyolite, CA – Cheers Susan

Rhyolite Brothel - Cheers Susan

Rhyolite Brothel – Cheers Susan


This is probably my favorite image of the whole trip. It was a happy accident. I was taking pictures of the window and trying to capture the writing when I adjusted and kind of looked up to see the clouds reflected in the window. Then I thought how cool is that and took a bunch more photos hoping to catch the reflection and everything. I even managed to capture the hills that were behind means some of the griminess of the window. 

Pacific - Cheers Susan

Ghost Rider - Cheers Susan

Ghost Rider – Cheers Susan

Faces of Rhyolite - Cheers Susan

Faces of Rhyolite – Cheers Susan


After Rhyolite, we headed out to this really neat place in the middle of nowhere. Mind you I can’t remember which file I put the photos in so I can’t prove it at the moment but when I find the photos I’ll get them posted for you guys.

Instead, we’re going to jump ahead and tackle some of the other parts of Death Valley like the Mesquite Dunes, Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, etc. Parts that are a little more well known. 

Death Valley gets, on average, less than 2.5″ of rain per year. We, of course, had to go when rain was in the forecast. What are the odds? It made for a more unique experience. The colors of the Painted Hills seems to be much more saturated. There seemed to be fewer people at places like Devil’s Golf Course and the Borax Mine. Why would someone have thought to mine for Borax in Death Valley? Also, why build a ranch out here? Scotty’s Castle may be located in a little oasis but what if the water dried up for a couple years? I would think that would have been a huge risk? They must have really loved the desert. 

Mesquite Dunes - Cheers Susan

Mesquite Dunes – Cheers Susan

Mesquite Dunes Pano - Cheers Susan

Mesquite Dunes Pano – Cheers Susan

Devil's Cornfield - Cheers Susan

Devil’s Cornfield – Cheers Susan

Crater - Cheers Susan

Crater – Cheers Susan

Painted Hills Death Valley - Cheers Susan

Painted Hills Death Valley – Cheers Susan

Devil's Golf Course Death Valley - Cheers Susan

Devil’s Golf Course Death Valley – Cheers Susan

Devil's Golf Course - Cheers Susan

Devil’s Golf Course Death Valley – Cheers Susan

Death Valley Highway - Cheers Susan

Death Valley Highway – Cheers Susan

Death Valley in Fog - Cheers Susan

Badwater Basin - Cheers Susan

One of the last places we stopped was Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the US. It’s also the start of the Badwater 135, a 135 mile ultra marathon that runs from Badwater to Whitney Portal and some runners even go on to summit Mt. Whitney. So, basically they are going from the lowest point in elevation to the highest in the heat of the summer. Talk about testing serious limits. Honestly, I could never do it. I don’t know how anyone can. It’s incredible and crazy at the same time. If you ever catch me there it will be as a spectator. My mouth will be wide open and I will have a car full of water, Gu, Body Glide, and bananas. Maybe not bananas. They might not survive the heat.

Anyway, while we were there, there had been enough rain that day to for a puddle of sorts. It was less than a quarter inch deep and I just loved the way the sky was reflected in it. What’s the likelihood of that happening again anytime soon? It felt truely special and i felt honored to have been able to be there to see it.

Badwater Basin Puddle - Cheers Susan

Leaving Death Valley we stopped to watch one of the most purple sunsets I have ever seen in my life. Yet, another moment where it took my breath away and words fail at capturing the beauty of the desert.

If you have never been – you should. It will leave you in awe and wanting more. Rumor has it, there are wild flowers in the desert in the Spring!

Death Valley Sunset - Cheers Susan

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