Saline Valley, Death Valley National Park, CA – May 24-27, 2016

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This is not going to be an in depth description of the Saline Valley Warm Springs. It would take a lot of time and type to explain the area. We were here in May of 2014 during this same type of trip. You can check out our blog post from our last trip here at:

Saline Valley Blog Post 2014

To sum up very briefly. There are three sets of natural warm springs in this part of Saline Valley.

Camping around the Lower Springs and the Palm Springs (the middle spring) has been going on here long before this area was part of the National Park System.  There is a camp host, a fire pit, vault toilets, and a lawn at the Lower Springs.

A wonderful lawn to nap on.

A wonderful lawn to nap on.

 

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The camp host’s compound and wild burros.

There are several small pools for people to soak.

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The crystal pool, fire pit and sink area.

 

We’ve been visiting here since 2001.

Originally in a Range Rover and a tent.

 

2001 Warm Spring Campsite 2 RR

 

Later in a Land Rover Defender 110.

Jon and I both love the desert and this one is particularly beautiful. I usually take a lot of pictures of the scenery and the vegetation.

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Sunrise at Saline Valley – Oct 2002

 

A view from this year.

A view from this year.

We arrived in the mid-afternoon. We decided to camp at the Lower Springs in the same campsite that we used during our last trip.

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2014

 

2016

2016

 

It is in a fairly protected site.

Even the Fuso is well protected at this site.

Even the Fuso is well protected at this site.

 

It was a good thing in 2014 during a ferocious dust storm.

Massive dust storm in 2014

50 mph sustained horizontal winds in 2014

After setting up camp, we decided it was time to wander around and see who’s here and check out the current condition of the place.

Shower area. Not much has changed.

Shower area. Not much has changed.

In the main social area, there were two burros eating a magazine. A nice guy did take it away from them, always a little dangerous since they are actually wild burros. Oddly enough we saw the same two burros in almost the same place as in 2014.

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Wild burros are a real problem in the Death Valley area. They out compete the native wildlife especially the Big Horn Sheep.

We walked around and talked with people.

We went for a dip in the Sunrise Pool. The weather was hot, so we didn’t stay in the pool as long as we might have under different circumstances.

Jon in the Sunrise Pool

Jon in the Sunrise Pool

There are a number of art projects around the springs.

Including Peace Mountain, a red pumice covered hill with a peace sign on it.

The dark red mound has a peace sign.

The dark red mound has a peace sign.

And all sorts of creatures and patterns made out of rocks that wash off of the surrounding hills.

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And a wrench standing on one end.

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The end of a wrench sticking out of the ground.

Even the wall surrounding the Source for the main pools is decorated.

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Several heart shaped rocks form part of the wall.

Most of the vault toilets have murals on the inside and rock art of the outside.

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We were camping near the Dragon Pool, but it didn’t have much water in it during most of this visit.

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The day we arrived, the clouds came in and threatened to rain, but it fortunately didn’t rain on us.

Jon admires the rain clouds and sunset.

Jon admires the rain clouds and sunset.

 

Close up view.

Close up view.

As important, it didn’t rain on the pass above the warm springs. Water runs downhill and there can be flash floods here even without getting any direct rain.

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On May 25, we had the same clouds roll in around 2:30 when it was about 95 degrees in the shade. The clouds brought just a light sprinkle of rain, but the best part was that it dropped the temperatures by about 30 degrees making it much more comfortable.

A view of the clouds from the hill above the Fuso.

A view of the clouds from the hill above the Fuso.

We spent most of the day just relaxing. With a little time spent getting the Fuso organized again. After a week at Overland Expo, we have a lot of things that need to be organized.

We were buzzed by the occasional jet.

Another jet.

It may look small in the photo, but they are really low to the ground.

They do a lot of low level flights over the valley. The noise is incredible.

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We had a quiet night.

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On May 26, weather was certainly hotter and we didn’t have any rain. Jon and I rotated the tires on the Fuso. Not any easy thing to do considering the size and weight of the tires and the Fuso.

Jon and I rotate the tires.

Jon and I rotate the tires.

Later in the day, the Bells pulled up in their Land Rover. They are friends we met though the overlanding community. Graeme and Luisa Bell with their two children, Keelan and Jessica, are traveling the world in a Land Rover with a roof top tent. They have driven from Argentina to Alaska and are now planning a trip to Asia. Their website is:

A2A Expedition

They camped next to us.

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Luisa grilled over a fire for dinner and the rest of us sat around the fire talking.

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May 27 was uneventful. The weather became hotter. We spent much of our time in the shady areas on the lawn. As we got closer to Memorial Day weekend, more people arrived.

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Incredible sunsets.

We hung out around the campfire at the Bell’s campsite again.

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On May 28th, we decided to head north out of the heat and hopefully to someplace with fewer people. There may be a lot of desert around this area, but the pools, lawn, etc. are a limited resource. It doesn’t take very many people for it to become crowded.

See my next blog post for our drive out of Saline Valley and where we went from here.

 

 

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