When life demands a little break for natural wonders, you take that break and visit…
Death Valley is a marvel of the universe with vast beauty. It’s a below-sea-level land of extreme dry rarities that offers a palette of nature’s most magnificent colors. Despite researching the area for a little over a week, we could not find any vacancies. However, we were determined to visit, even if it meant a continuous drive there and back. That amounts to a five-hour journey with four adults and two kids, a tour of three points of interest and a five-hour return journey home.
Our Death Valley trip was a special one. We travel pretty frequently, both near and far. But this was the first time we took our little brother, Anton, with us. You see, Anton is a very special boy. He’s funny, inquisitive, kind and smiles a lot. He’s also autistic – and our daughter Scout’s youngest uncle and best friend.
During the drive, we discussed all of the things we were expecting to see. We did this in order to mentally prepare Anton for the adventure ahead. We spoke to him about rocks, flowers, and open fields. We asked Scout to make sure she always keeps an eye on him. Scout is three and a half and Anton is turning six. Whenever we are out in public, Scout keeps a very close eye on him. As you can see in our video, she screams, “Anton! I need your help!” In addition, there’s also always the echoing, “Anton, where are you?” and “Anton! Hold my hand!” Our first rule when we go out is to discuss safety. Always be close, always look both ways for oncoming cars and ask questions…LOTS of them. We want to make sure any queries they may have will be completely covered.
We selected three locations that we thought would be great for our trip. Before we arrived at our first destination, we made a pit stop at the Death Valley Junction to see the eerie yet iconic Amargosa Opera house. The town of Death Valley Junction is a ghost town except for this establishment. We were hoping they would be open to taking a quick tour, but no such luck.
Our first destination: Dante’s View at the Black Mountains.
The furthest, windiest destination in Death Valley. The fantastic scenic route, offering interesting little mini canyon’s that looked completely man-made. I swear they were not there a couple of years back. Beyond that, the winding road offered amazing views of gorgeous multicolored mountains – it reminded me of a painting. The kids also enjoyed the winding, wavy roads: a mini-roller coaster offering giggles every 5 minutes.
We reached the terrace of Dante’s View where the narrow mountain path opened up to an amazing view overlooking Death Valley’s Devil’s Golf Course & salt shoreline. This destination offers a nice open (free) parking spot, great for both small cars and large campers.
This destination was a great introduction to Death Valley for the kids.
Remember to hold their hands tightly, their excitement along with yours can be a bit overwhelming. There are no tracks to stop visitors from walking all the way to the edge of the cliff so keep your children close! With hands held as tightly as possible, we roamed the area and enjoyed the fresh air. After all, we’d been in the car for 5 hours!
Note: Before you can get to Dante’s View, don’t forget to make a stop at the entrance to pay for your National Park fee ($20 per car).
We came across REI’s #optouside
Please excuse our attire, we brought clothes to change into but decided the heavy wind and extremely chilly air prevented us from wanting to look great and instead be cozy and comfortable. We nearly burst out of the car once we reached the parking lot anyway. Did I mention we were all overwhelmed with the view? 🙂
Our second destination: The Mosaic Canyon.
A water-polished marble canyon. Nature’s geological museum. This place was great for both Scout & Anton. Put on proper shoes and let go of their hands! Prepare to be amazed at the look of joy and allow them to explore everything. Running, stopping, touching – all of their senses put to use. It was windy so we had trouble a couple of times so bring sunglasses or proper eyewear if you’re going while it’s windy. There were entrances up a narrow step-like path, walk with caution. We did not reach the end or down the narrower portion of the canyons (pity), we had to turn around to use the bathroom. Be also prepared for many bathroom breaks! The experience was nonetheless fun!
The third and final destination: The Beatty Junction.
We went here to see the vast wide open view of the Super Bloom. However, our initial thought was a lush yellow field, filled with condensed blooms. But if you look closely enough – you’d see that these little miracle flowers bloomed somewhere unimaginable. Thus, what we would imagine as beautiful was beyond our perception, miracles do come in all form and those who believe in miracles will see the true beauty of the Super Bloom. A vast sea of flowers that bloomed in the desert. Happening every 10 years and that’s truly beautiful.
…Because miracles sprout where we’d least expected 🙂
Scout & Anton – Our first road trip with our favorite boy.
Our daughter Scout is an inquisitive soul, always curious and investigative. However, when we are out, we usually find her a bit quiet. In those moments she’s often busy glaring at the clouds pointing out shapes, picking up sticks and rocks and looking for little bugs. Her most frequent questions are wondering where papa is going so that she can follow him.
The best part of this trip was seeing Anton and Scout run freely in the desert. We were far from the main road, and the land before us was vast. This allowed us to run around and watch the two of them play as the sun was setting. It was so magical!
Watch our adventures here:
Our Death Valley trip taught us how much work (and how many people) it takes to spend a few hours outdoors with Anton. We had definitely underestimated the amount of energy and planning it would require. Our hearts felt luminous watching them run freely together. Anton normally doesn’t get to roam. We hope to be able to do this more often with better preparation. All three destinations on this trip were wonderful – just enough for Anton and for us. The reward was just being outside with an endless amount of land for us all to enjoy together.
Until our next adventure!