Death Valley - Camp1 and Ubehebe Crater
From San Diego, I drove up interstate 15 to 395, and up 395 to the China Lake cutoff.
I wasn't quite sure where I would be camping, so I scoped out the Panimint Valley, which
was quite beautiful, on the way in. I initially thought I'd try to make the
climb from the valley upto the Wildrose campground, but the dirt road was
washed out (and closed) from the rains, so went ahead and entered Death Valley N.P. itself
thru the northwest entrance.
Once in the park, I scoped out the Stovepipe Wells campground.
It was packed for Spring Break. There were spaces left, but there were probably
a hundred or so campers in the few acres of campground. I tried to find a ranger to
talk to, but they were nowhere to be found, so instead, drove to the north
entrance station of the park and talked to a ranger there.
He pointed out that there is a network of dirt roads thru the park,
and that you can camp anywhere (boondock, for free) in the park,
as long as you are two miles or more off the paved roads. Based
on this info, I drove North until the paved road ended at what used
to be the Park Boundry (on the map) before they expanded the park another
10 miles or so in 1992. Then I drove another 6-7 miles north on the
dirt road until the traffic had all but petered out. So I spent my
first night at Camp1, at the north end of Death Valley.
It was a pretty nice camp spot, though I couldn't have a campfire (campfires
are only allowed in campground fire rings in DVNP). My nearest camping neighbor was
about 1/2 mile further south along the road. Very few people used the road for the
rest of the day, and by evening it quieted down as no-one drove by all night.
I went for short evening and morning hikes from Camp1, including a walk down to the
main wash thru the center of the valley. There were nice views of the surrounding
mountains, still dusted with snow from recent storms.
The next morning I drove back to the paved road and took the side road to Ubehebe Crater.
The crater is the remnant from a huge volcanic eruption that took place in the recent
geological past. Even here you could make out the sheen of wildflowers growing on the
otherwise barren slopes of the crater. There was even standing water in the basin of the
I hiked up the rim of the main crater to the see the dome of the 2nd, smaller crater.
Along the way I saw several different species of wildflowers.