Death Valley National Park

Do you love going on an adventure outdoors? If yes, then the Death Valley National Park will most likely pique your interests!

Death Valley National Park: A Land of Extremes

Located in both California and Nevada, the Death Valley National Park is known as a land of extremes. It is not only the hottest but also has the lowest elevation in North America! It receives fewer than two inches of rainfall annually, and the lowest point in the park, which can be found in the Badwater Basin, is 282 feet below sea level.

Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park
The Death Valley National Park is home to the lowest elevation in the United States called Badwater Basin. Image courtesy of Adriaan Van’t Riet and Death Valley National Park’s Facebook page.

Despite the extreme heat in the park with the highest record being 134-degree Fahrenheit, about a million adventurers visit the park yearly! Many are particularly interested in the diversity of life in a park ironically named Death Valley National Park.

How did the park get its name, you ask? Well, during the period of the California Gold Rush, a group of emigrants traveled the valley for over two months, enduring hunger, thirst, and silence. One of the last to leave bid farewell to the place saying, “Goodbye, Death Valley.”

Flora & Fauna

You probably think of the Death Valley as an inhabitable place because of its name. On the contrary, it is home to diverse wildlife. Various animals live and thrive in the valley by adapting to the heat and water scarcity. The bighorn sheep, for example, simply drink less water. They can go on without water for several days and can drink gallons once water becomes available again.

The Death Valley National Park is the hottest spot in the United States with the highest record of heat being 134-degree Fahrenheit. Image courtesy of Death Valley National Park’s Facebook page.

Some animals, on the other hand, just rest during the day and stay active at night such as the jackrabbit and coyote. Nonetheless, there are still those who roam the landscape during the day despite the heat like the roadrunners. They possess a naturally high body temperature that allows them to do so anyway.

The Death Valley is also home to diverse plants. Of course, vegetation is abundant in places in the park with water available.

Places to Visit

If it’s your first time to visit the Death Valley National Park and you only have a limited time to enjoy it, the National Park Service (NPS) recommends prioritizing these spots: Badwater Basin, Artists Drive, Devils Golf Course, Golden Canyon, and Zabriskie Point.

Badwater Basin
Badwater Basin. Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is a salt pan where you can see the lowest elevation in the entire continent of North America. During summer, you can enjoy viewing it from your vehicle. During months when the sun isn’t as harsh as it is usually, you can enjoy walking over it. Just after a 400-meter walk, you can see salt formations in the shape of polygons that seem to go on endlessly.

Artists Drive Death Valley National Park
Artists Drive. Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

Artists Drive

The Artists Drive is a nine-mile drive that lets you see a view of kaleidoscopic and eroded hills. It brings you to the Artists Palette, which offers another awesome view that’s worth your camera shot! A Star Wars fan? Note that the Artists Palette is home to spots where certain parts of Star Wars, a New Hope were filmed!

Devils Golf Course Death Valley National Park
Devils Golf Course. Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

Devils Golf Course

The Devils Golf Course is an extensive salt pan. It is full of spiky salt formations, which is why NPS stated that “only the devil could play golf” in the area. Since it’s difficult to walk on, NPS recommends viewing it from the parking area instead.

Golden Canyon Death Valley National Park hiking
Enjoy easy and difficult hiking trails at Golden Canyon. Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

Golden Canyon

The Golden Canyon offers both easy and difficult hiking options! NPS, however, does not recommend hiking in the low elevations in the area during summer.

Zabriskie Point Death Valley National Park
Zabriskie Point is one of the most popular viewpoints in the Death Valley National Park. Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

Zabriskie Point

The Zabriskie Point is a popular spot during sunrise and sunset. It offers a view of the badlands of Furnace Creek.

Weather

As mentioned, Death Valley is the hottest place in North America. The heat during the day in the summer is usually around 120-degree Fahrenheit. At night, it can drop to the 90-degree Fahrenheit range. Needless to say, bringing lots and lots of fluid is essential when you visit the land of extremes.

Grand Canyon West: One of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders

They say that the best experiences come in the most extraordinary adventures. What else could top of something that allows you to have the most extraordinary and unique experience at one of the seven natural wonders of the world? The Grand Canyon! Extending far and wide, the Grand Canyon West offers activities in two separate sites: The West Rim and Peach Springs.

Grand Canyon West

Whether you are in it for social media, to be one with nature, the adrenaline or just the magnificent view, the Grand Canyon West is worth to be on your list. Roughly a two-hour drive away from Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon West is a meaningful trip you will make in your lifetime.

The West Rim

Skywalk

Soar the Sky and feast your eyes with the most beautiful view on the Skywalk – a 10-ft. wide glass platform that can hold the weight of over 700 fully loaded passenger jets and allows everyone to get a clear view of what is 4000 ft. and extends 70 ft. out over. And what better way to remember this splendid walk than to have your picture taken by the most excellent photographers.

The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West
The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West

Eagle Point

Just around the corner of this is the Sky View Restaurant where you can eat with a view of the Skywalk and the Eagle Point. Right, about the Eagle Point. It is a wondrous rock formation that is naturally formed into the shape of an eagle. Aside from the view, the site also gives you the chance to watch the Native American Dances at the Amphitheater. You can shop for handcrafted creations by Native Hands. You can also take a tour of the Native American Village where you can see traditionally built housings, ovens, sweat lodges and dwellings of the indigenous tribes of the region.

Hualapai Ranch and Zipline

Just about a mile away from the Skywalk, you can fly proud and free 500 feet above and 3,200 feet long in the Zipline at the Hualapai Ranch.

The Hualapai Ranch at Grand Canyon West
The Hualapai Ranch at Grand Canyon West

The Peach Springs

Colorado River Whitewater Rafting

The Peach Springs isn’t short of adventures. It is the site for the Hualapai River Runners. Get that exhilarating feeling as you paddle your way through the whitewater rapids of the Colorado River. Their offer of a one or two-day rafting adventures with the most experienced river guides comes with the immersion in the culture of the Hualapai Tribe – inhabitants of the Grand Canyon even way before it was known as a natural wonder of the world. The trip takes two hours from the West Rim.

Travertine Cavern Falls

The fun does not stop there. Guests can view local wildlife. You have the chance to hike at the Travertine Cavern Falls. Enjoy a refreshing lunch along the banks of the river. And if it’s not exciting enough for you, they also offer a very unique way to get back to the Grand Canyon West Rim – a helicopter ride! Although if heights are not your thing, there are other ways to continue the adventure.

Experience Sky, Earth, and Water like you have never experienced it before. Feel your heart burst into flames of passion and happiness. The Grand Canyon West adventures await you!

Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs

The Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs offers a respite from all the noise and crowd. It is an oasis comprising of a 680-acre park that features wildlife, lakes, greenery, and an amazing view of the Sheep Range and the Spring Mountains.

Floyd Lamb Park Wildlife
Some of the animals you can see in Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs are mallard duck, tree swallow, peacock, rainbow trout, goose, fox, jackrabbit, and many more! Image courtesy of F. Andrew Taylor and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Over 200,000 locals and tourists visit the park yearly to relax, go on picnics, take beautiful photos of animals, and many more. Little do people know that the park has been a work in progress for many years before it became the park they enjoy today.

A Work in Progress for Many Years

The history of the Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs dates back to the prehistoric era. People discovered fossils of animals belonging to the Pleistocene fauna such as mammoths in the area. Human inhabitation, on the other hand, only happened approximately 11,000 years ago. The first inhabitants were a nomadic Indian tribe called “Tudini”. They were succeeded by a native Indian American group called “Paiute”.

In the 1900s, a man named John Herbert Nay purchased 10 acres of land. He cultivated his property but sold it in 1929 eventually. By 1941, the property has a new owner by the name of Prosper Jacob Goumond. He transformed the property into a working ranch, which became a guest ranch eventually. It accommodated several visitors who even volunteered to do daily ranch chores sometimes. The ranch has grown into 880 acres over the years.

Floyd Lamb Park Entrance Fee
Floyd Lamb Park is located at 9200 Tule Springs Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89131. Image courtesy of David Becker and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In 1959, a group of businessmen purchased the property from the granddaughter of Goumond. They leased the property as a working cattle ranch. It remained that way until the city of Las Vegas purchased the property in 1964, turning it into a city park and naming it after State Senator Floyd Lamb. This was short-lived as the state of Nevada acquired the property by legislative action in 1977. 

When the State saw urban growth around the park, the State believed the park was better as a city park. On July 2, 2007, the State transferred the park back to the hands of the City of Las Vegas. It was renamed to what it is now known today: Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs.

THINGS YOU CAN DO AT THE PARK 

Fishing. The park consists of four amazing lakes. From smallest to largest, they are the Willow Lake, Cottonwood Lake, Mulberry Lake, and Tule Springs Lake. For as long as you have a fishing license from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, you are free to fish in all these lakes. One fish you may get there is a rainbow trout!

Enjoy wildlife and amazing scenery. Just the sight of the animals makes this park a must-visit. Some of the wildlife you can see there are mammals like coyotes, foxes, and jackrabbits. You can also see birds and water birds such as peafowl, killdeer, kestrels, tree swallows, mallard duck, burrowing owl, and many more!

Floyd Lamb Park Fishing
As long as you have a license from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, you may fish in all the four lakes of Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs. Image courtesy of Martin S. Fuentes and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Go on a picnic with loved ones. There are designated picnic areas for you and your family in the park. You can celebrate special events such as birthdays. You may reserve a pavilion beforehand. 

Visit the historic area. The park consists of 23 buildings. Some of the prominent buildings you can visit are the Ranch House, Adobe Hut, Power Building, and Water Tower. On a side note, Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs also houses the Las Vegas State Tree Nursery. 

Participate in programs. Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs also offers programs.

  • Pop up parks and recreation are available every third Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
  • Gardening and recreation are available from 9:00 am to 10:00 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays; 9:00 am to 11:00 am on Fridays.
  • Historic tours are available from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and 12:00 to 2:00 pm on Fridays.

OPERATING HOURS

The park is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm from April to September; 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from October to March. The park charges $6 entrance fee per vehicle. In an article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, author Margo Pesek stated that the park charges $1 to those entering on foot, bikes, or horseback. For frequent visitors and senior citizens, she suggested inquiring about annual fees to save money. 

Willow Beach Marina and Campground

How does a breather look like for you? For some, getting a massage and strolling the mall is already enough. Others are looking out for ways to enjoy nature such as hiking, mountain climbing or going to the beach!

Many find going to the beach relaxing. Personally, there’s peace and calm in watching the waves and enjoying the waters. If you are the type of person who also likes going to the beach, Willow Beach Marina and Campground is a good place to check out! Like you and me, it believes that a fun day in the water is one of the best ways to recharge and relax.

willow beach marina campground
Have a relaxing trip at the Willow Beach Marina as you take a boat to look at the unique scenery.

Situated in the Arizona side of the Colorado River, Willow Beach Marina and Campground provides you with scenery, a 235-mile shoreline, and wildlife. Listed below are some of the things you could do at the place: 

Explore the waters and go on a fishing 

Willow Beach Marina and Campground is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. It offers rentals of various watercraft such as fishing boats, deck boats, kayaks, and canoes. If you choose to rent a boat, make sure that you have your Boater Education Card to present if the state where you live in requires that. 

willow beach colorado
Relax and enjoy the waters at Willow Beach Marina. Photo courtesy of Willow Beach Marina’s Facebook account.

As hinted, Willow Beach Marina and Campground also enables you to go on a fishing adventure. According to a 2018 article from USA Today, the beach is home to striped bass. Some of the other fishes you may find there are trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish and walleye.

Stay in a Strategic Place

If you’re looking for more than a day of relaxation and fun, Willow Beach Marina has an RV Park and tent campground where you could relax and appreciate various sceneries such as the Colorado River, Black Canyon, and nearby mountains and deserts! 

willow beach marina rv park
Let the kids enjoy outdoor activities as you camp at the Willow Beach RV Park. Photo courtesy of Willow Beach Marina’s Facebook account.

You could also enjoy various activities from the places near it. This includes engaging in water activities in Lake Mead or Lake Mohave, hiking on mountain trails, and visiting the Hoover Dam. Want some nightlife? The place is just 45 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip! 

Cap Your trip by Getting Souvenirs

What better way to end your trip than by getting souvenirs or memorabilia! You could get that at the Willow Beach Marina and Convenience store. From clothes to gifts, you’ll definitely find the best memorabilia to recall the memories you made in the place.

Aside from memorabilia, you could also get various stuff you need from the Willow Beach Marina and Convenience Store to make the most of your stay. This includes picnic supplies, first aid needs, things you probably forgot to bring and many more!

It also has everything you need for your fishing such as baits, tackles, and Arizona fishing licenses! On top of this is the free advice and tips about fishing that its staff could give you!

Lake Mead National Recreational Area

Las Vegas and its nearby towns are rich in amazing places. Sometimes, we go away to have fun and relax. We tend to lose ourselves in partying at clubs or going to concerts, yet what we really need is to refresh the soul by visiting beautiful scenic sights. Just 30 minutes away from The Strip is Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is a recreational area that spreads across 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys, and two lakes. It’s for boaters, swimmers, fishermen, hikers, photographers, campers, and sightseers. National Park Service operates Lake Mead National Recreational Area.

The beautiful scenic view of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The park, located in southeastern Nevada and northwestern Arizona, which includes Lake Mead and Lake Mohave is accessible all year-round. Lake Mead is a large reservoir held by the Hoover Dam while Lake Mohave is a reservoir impounded by Davis Dam.

The Historic Railroad Trail is a national recreation trail.

One of the great places to go in the park is the Historic Railroad Trail. For instance, it is the only remaining section of the Hoover Dam Railroad system that is not highly disturbed or underwater. You can see information about the tunnels taken from the National Park Service’s website:

  • The first tunnel is around 1 mile from the trailhead.
  • The fifth tunnel is around 2.2 miles from the trailhead.
  • The elevation change from the trailhead to the fifth tunnel is about 11 feet.
  • After the fifth tunnel, the trail continues another 1.5 miles to the Hoover Dam Parking Garage. The elevation change between these two points is around 445 feet.
  • Total distance = 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) round trip.
You can explore the Historic Railroad Trail that provides panoramic views of Lake Mead.

Fun Fact

Based from the website too, a section of the railroad was used in the motion picture “The Gauntlet” starring Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke for a sequence in which they were on a motorcycle being chased by an assassin in a helicopter.

The park has nine wilderness areas. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages some of the wilderness that lies outside Lake Mead National Recreational Area.

Here Are Some Tips When Visiting Lake Mead National Recreational Area:

  • Engage in outdoor activities early in the morning or in the evening during summer.
  • Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and hydrate when engaging in outdoor activities.
  • Wear hiking shoes and avoid open shoes if you will participate in hiking activities.

It is undeniable that Las Vegas gains tourists because of the numerous casinos, shows, concerts, and shops it has. People should be reminded that one of the uniqueness of Vegas is that it is located in the desert, surrounded by parks with wonderful weather throughout the year. Exploring the outdoors should be on the list of every tourist. Finding solitude just takes a trip to the Lake Mead National Recreational Area.

Stargazing in Las Vegas

Tourists come to Vegas to enjoy the nightlife. Not a lot of people know that you can have the ultimate stargazing experience at the City of Entertainment. Partying is a common thing to do in Las Vegas, but to stargaze is a unique opportunity that brings out your geeky side. In addition, it is astounding to see how bright the stars are and surprising to know that they are just 20 miles from downtown Las Vegas. Yes, Stargazing in Las Vegas is possible.

Stargazing in Las Vegas

Anyone who is interested in stars can attend or even book his own “Star Party” through the Las Vegas Astronomical Society (LVAS). After all, an evening of stargazing with them is definitely an entertaining and learning activity as they use their high-powered telescopes and share their knowledge about astronomy.

A public stargazing is held at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Public stargazing is held at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The LVAS hosts a public stargazing every month except in December. These events are usually held in local State and National Parks in the area of Las Vegas. Some of the venues included are Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, the National Desert Wildlife Refuge and the New Spring Mountains Visitors Center.

What Happens in a typical Star Party

  • It begins with an astronomical presentation.
  • If the weather permits, there is a viewing of the night sky through the telescopes of the LVAS members.
  • A laser-guided tour of the night sky begins an hour after the sunset.

 

Enjoy an evening of stargazing with the Las Vegas Astronomical Society

Meanwhile, join any of the public star parties. If you want a more private one, book your own star party. Observe and study galaxies, nebulae, dead stars, and star clusters. This is suitable for all ages. Children and adults can have a special video-assisted system if they have difficulty in viewing the eyepiece of a telescope.

Tips if you are going to the star party

  1. It tends to get chilly at night so wear thermals and bring gloves especially during winter when you have to bundle up.
  2. Arrive early. Once the capacity is reached, Rangers will close the dates and restrict visitor entrance.
  3. Leave pets at home. Some guests are not comfortable having pets around. Likewise, this is also to protect telescope equipment.
  4. If you plan to take photos, therefore, don’t forget your tripod and remote shutter release.

To sum up, forget the nightlife for a moment. Experience stargazing with the locals of Las Vegas. See how vast and magnificent the moon, skies, and stars are at night.