Central Valley and Death Valley

We had a few hours’ drive South along California’s Central Valley before turning the corner at Bakersfield and heading North-East again towards Death Valley: for those who aren’t familiar with the geography, it’s basically Coast / Mountain Range / Central Valley / Mountain Range. The second mountain range is pretty high with few roads crossing it and, at this time of year, snow-covered. There were National Parks etc that we’d have liked to have visited, but it just wouldn’t have been possible / practical.

There isn’t much in the way of tourist interest down the Central Valley, though I did find the proliferation of huge billboards saying “Thank you for voting to make America Great Again” quite intriguing. From what we could work out from the variety of other signage around, folk in the agricultural areas here want more water and more jobs. Good luck with that one, Donald.

We did stop to visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, which is basically a collection of buildings dating back to the early 1900s. Colonel Allensworth was born a slave in 1842 but later became a chaplain in the US Army, retiring in 1906 as the most senior serving African American. He went on to found the town of Allensworth where African Americans would be able to live free of discrimination and do well for themselves through education and hard work. Just 5 years after the town was founded, though, the railway stop it was next to was moved, costing the town a lot of trade. That and water supply problems resulted in the town’s speedy decline. Nowadays no-one lives there; plaques outside each house tell you who lived there and you’re encouraged to peep through the windows….


Mark was particularly pleased when we came to the house where the Dotson family had opened a restaurant in their front room; peeping through the front window, there it was – a PIE!

We spent 4 nights / 3 days in Death Valley. This was definitely the time of year to visit!

There was more there to see than I’d imagined. On our first day we walked up a canyon and visited an area of big sand dunes:

On day 2 we moved on a short distance (20-odd miles) from Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek. Here’s Mark hunting for pupfish in a Salt Creek (we didn’t see any):

At an old borax works:

Day 3: a walk up another canyon:

We had to visit the lowest point in America:

Then it was, unfortunately, time to slowly head out of Death Valley, via more viewpoints, and start trundling back the reasonably short distance to Las Vegas.

We had a night at Red Rock Canyon just outside Las Vegas, and then continued to the Sam’s Town campground, a short distance from the Cruise America depot for an afternoon of packing and cleaning   😦