The Racetrack (The Playa), Death Valley National Park, California

Thanksgiving in Death Valley!

Rob’s family has gone on these really fun trips in their RV for Thanksgiving the last couple of years. I was invited along for the first time while Rob and I were dating. We drove out to San Diego and enjoyed sunshine, the beach, and skirt steak for Thanksgiving! I thought, what a cool idea to get-away and go somewhere different for Thanksgiving, AND they don’t eat turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, instead they make all kinds of delicious eats, that in my opinion are much better than turkey. I like turkey, but let’s just say it’s not something that is on my list of top 10 foods I’m most grateful for. I think their Thanksgiving traditions are awesome and I’m so grateful to be apart of the adventures every other year now that I’m part of the family. 🙂

Death Valley National Park was this year’s Thanksgiving trip and we had an AMAZING time! I had no idea what a cool place it was; and didn’t even know anything about it until we started talking about going there. Death Valley is its own class of cool. It is an incredibly unique place full of things to explore. The entire park is absolutely enormous and literally in the middle on nowhere, which makes for fantastic star gazing!

Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park, California

The first place we stopped to explore was Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282ft (86m) below sea level! Why the name Badwater?? Because of the salts of the surrounding basin, the water is not drinkable. The salt fields that surround the basin are also an unexpectedly cool part of the park. A sea of salt made up of all kinds of sharp, and shiny salt formations – Shoes become your best friend! If you’re hungry and/or a naturalist, the salt is a nice savory snack. 😉

Badwater Basin, Salt Fields, Death Valley National Park, California

Badwater Basin, Salt Fields, Death Valley National Park, California

The Racetrack (The Racetrack Playa) was on the top of our list for places to see within the Valley of Death, the name totally takes me back to Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise from my Middle School days in the 90’s. ;). Those who had been here before, boasted that it was one of the coolest parts of the park and we couldn’t leave without seeing it for ourselves. It’s probably one of the most well-known and photographed parts of the park. The road to get out there is extremely rough and full of giant pot holes that eat small cars alive (so BIG you see abandoned cars along the road with blown out tires). We rented a Jeep and took a truck out there; no way the enormous RV could make that drive. The dirt road isn’t that long, but it’s so rough it takes almost 2 hours to drive the short 25 miles out there. If you’ve got the time, this is a fun off-road experience for those adventurous souls.

They call it “The Racetrack” because it is a dry lake bed with what are sometimes called “sailing stones” scattered along the surface. Over time these stones or rocks slide along the dry ground on little beds on ice, and over time have left imprints, forming a “track” in the cracked lakebed. If you think it sounds cool, it’s insanely cool to see in person. We had quite the experience while we were there. The wind was so strong that we were like rag dolls walking along the lake bed, the wind pushing and pulling us all over the place, especially the little kiddos! The kind of wind that forces you to squint so hard, tears are involuntarily pushed out of the corners of your eyes. Gosh it was super cool. Even with the wind being as crazy as it was, I’m so glad we went. This is a place unlike any other.

The Racetrack (The Playa), Death Valley National Park, California

Lins with baby Beckham all bundled up and protected from the wind inside her coat. 🙂

The Recetrack, Death Valley National Park, California

Tea Kettle Junction, Death Valley National Park

Tea Kettle Junction

The Racetrack (The Playa), Death Valley National Park

The Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, California

UBEHEBE – Say that 5 times fast, I dare you! Uhebebe…Ubehebe…Ubehebe…Ubehebe….Ubehebe… Sounds like something you should shout at the top of your lungs over and over again! Well that is exactly what you can do while you’re running down this 600 foot deep crater! We ran downhill at full speed through deep, dark grey gravel, one foot at a time disappeared into the soil, sinking so deep so fast; like stepping into quick sand – you better be quick or you might lose a body part! The downhill sprint was exhilarating! Climbing out was quite the workout, but totally worth the rush for the race down. If it hadn’t started getting dark when we reached the surface, we would have run down again. This is a fantastic place to get your wiggles out before you make the drive home. Who needs the McDonalds ball pit when you’ve got a crater to run around in?? 🙂

With this only being a 4 day trip, we didn’t have time to see everything, but we saw more than enough to discover what an awesome place this is. This was a reminder to me of why the National Parks are protected areas. They have earned their title. Everyone should venture out to see as many of them as they can – if you let them, they will add depth to your soul and expand your vision of life. If it’s not on your bucket list, you might want to add it! Once you get there, it will speak for itself.

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