Death Valley National Park Road Trip – How You DON’T Want It To End

Death Valley National Park Road Trip – How You DON’T Want It To End

I wanted to make this video for two
reasons. One: to share my Death Valley experience with friends, family, and you.
And two: for it to serve as a guide for those who might be planning their own
Death Valley trip- a very loose guide, but a guide nonetheless. Death Valley is one
of the hottest places on earth in the summer months temperatures range
anywhere from around 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit -or more. So as summer
approaches, my friend Bobby and I decided to squeeze in a short trip before it
gets too hot. I’m at Bobby’s and I think he slept through his alarm, which is funny
because the last trip we went on he also slept through his alarm. I was waiting for you
to come out so I could record you and then your neighbor came out the other
door and I wasn’t paying attention and I was just recording her. From Los Angeles, Death
Valley is about a four-hour drive. It doesn’t actually feel that long though
because the landscape constantly changes you’ve got green mountains, red rocks,
farmland, small towns, deserts, and that kind of cycles until you get there. The plan for us was to make it a simple
two-day trip: drive out Monday, spend the night in a motel, spend all day Tuesday
exploring and then drive home in the late afternoon. I had already researched all
the places we wanted to see so fitting it in would just be a matter of timing
and managing any random adventures we wanted to take. Our first stop would be
father Crowley Vista. Bobby’s choice. It’s where you can see military jets fly
through the canyon. Bobby loves planes. Any time we drive past an airport he
wants to stop or at least look so watching jets fly through Death Valley
was a must for him. We read online that they fly pretty much every day. Some days
you get quite a show and others it’s pretty quiet. We had no idea what we were
going to get. So we found a nice spot on the edge of the canyon and waited and waited and then As ready as we were, it happened so fast.
It came out of nowhere. There’s really no warning. As soon as we heard the jet
and pointed our cameras at it, it was gone. At this point we were technically
in the park but not down in the valley. That’s where most of the sightseeing is…
and the heat. Bobby are you ready to feel uncomfortable for the next 36 hours? oh it’s hot 110. This is also where we ran into our
first bit of trouble the air-conditioning in my car started
blowing out hot air. Not good. We still had a day and a half left and ninety
percent of it was down here. Death Valley is really just a lot of rocks, sand, and
dirt, and heat but it’s also got character and that’s what makes it worth
exploring. For example we found this ghost town on the very east side of
Death Valley called Rhyolite. It was once a prosperous mining town in
the early 1900’s. Now it’s just abandoned homes, a bank, and a very weird art museum. and
then there’s the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Probably one of my favorite stops of the
whole trip. When you come down the mountains and see them in the distance,
they look tiny, minuscule, but when you get up close to them they’re pretty
massive. And you can just walk out as far as you want. We spent the night in a little town
called Beatty. There’s really not much there: a few motels, a couple restaurants, and a
Denny’s with the casino attached to it. In the morning we got coffee at a little
diner and then headed back into the valley. Do you think it’s gonna work? I do not think it’s gonna work as well as it should. Does it feel cold? No. Wait, wait, wait.
Yes it does. It feels mediocre. Bobby. No, that’s better. Yeah that’s working. Success. Day two was starting off strong. Badwater Basin was number one on my
places-to-see list. It’s a giant salt flat, nearly 200 square
miles. It’s also the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.
For reference, there’s Bobby and there’s a sign for sea level. Bobby and I just
walked out as far as we could. We’re still walking. The path is getting
a little less traveled, a little rockier. Bobby is leading the way. We went
early in the morning to avoid the extreme heat, but it was already pretty
bad. Bobby heard that the salt here basically
tastes like pink Himalayan sea salt so he wants to test that theory out. No good?
That’s the saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted. I I’d put that on some
steamed vegetables. Okay. Alright, so Bobby and I have gone as far as we’re
probably going to go. It’s getting a lot hotter, a lot more nothing around here.
We’re gonna take a few pictures and then probably head back. The plan for day two
was the started Badwater Basin and then drive back up, hitting all the major
stops as we made our way out the park. For the sake of time, I’ll just show
you the highlights. Oh and my air conditioning stopped working again after
Badwater. Our final stop was Dante’s view. You
drive 20 miles up the mountain and you’re greeted with a beautiful view of
the entire Valley. It’s cool, it’s relaxing, and as a nice wrap up to the
day we could see our entire trip in the valley below. So it makes sense that I
would end the video here, too, right? Well, I can’t. Because that’s not where this
trip ended. As we were leaving, my car stalled out here. We waited a few minute,
started to back up again and then it stalled out again here, in the middle of
nowhere. I don’t know much more about cars other than how to change a tire, but
I do know being stranded in Death Valley is one of the last places you want to be.
There’s no cell service, no relief from the sun, and ranger patrol can be few and
far between. There are a lot of details to this story but I want to keep it as
short as possible, so here we go: Basically, we were able to stall out
again in front of a restaurant that had the worst wifi ever. Here. I was able to
get one text message through to my family in Michigan. My dad’s a car guy and would likely know something. He was able to call the
restaurant and talk me through some possible scenarios. Since the car was
still driveable, Bobby and I were going to make our way out of the park until we
had cell service and were near some type of town so we wouldn’t be completely
stranded. And somehow we made it. Just as we were getting off the highway in Lone
Pine the car stalled again, the serpentine belt broke, and I was able
to pull directly into a Comfort Inn. Side note: this is Mt Whitney. One of
those is Mt Whitney. One of these. It’s the highest point in the contiguous US.
It’s kind of cool that we got to see the lowest and highest points in the same
day. Anyway, with shops being closed we rented a room, called the tow truck in
the morning, and were towed to Ridgecrest 70-something miles away. Unfortunately the fix wasn’t a simple
belt replacement and the total repair cost was 750 dollars. With all that said
I did have a good time. It was a rough ending but we did get to see everything
we wanted to and we didn’t get stranded in Death Valley. I’ll take that.

100 thoughts on “Death Valley National Park Road Trip – How You DON’T Want It To End

  1. Hi guys, just wanted to clear up a few things:

    1. The AC compressor clutch in my car went bad which snapped the belt. I cut this information out of the final video you see here because I didn't think the details were necessary to the the overall story. But judging from some of the comments, people wanted (needed) to know.
    2. I didn't just carelessly drive into the desert without getting my car checked out. It's old, but not a POS. It had less than 40k miles on it and I never had a problem with it until Death Valley. Clearly it didn't go as planned and renting a car would have been the better option. Lesson learned.

    I get that criticism comes with the territory when you put yourself on YouTube. I'm cool with that. But I'd at least like you to have all the information before you do so. Now that you have it, please continue telling me what I did wrong and how I should have properly handled the situation.

    But, for real, thanks for the support. Glad so many people are enjoying the video.

  2. Cool Video, you may want to try something like Subaru outback or similar for trips like these. I would not trust an 01 ford.

  3. I watched this video a couple yrs ago and watched again Aug 2019. Its a great video showing some of the things in this country is why its so great to go site seeing. I will never understand why people spend thousands of dollars going to over sea's when America has everything there is to enjoy. Cheers

  4. My dad used to take me and my brother here back in the seventies. my uncles and their kids usually went with us. We took motorcycles, 3 wheelers, scooters and other toys. We went down through panamint springs, always stopped and got gas, ice and other stuff. We would stay out there for days, usually in the fall or early winter. There is a lot to explore back in those valleys, there is a ancient volcanic mountain, old mines that went into the mountains. Just had to be very careful flying across the desert floor, you never knew when you would come across a washout gully from flash floods.

  5. I have this funny feeling that if I could ever visit the moon, there would be hundreds of tourists wandering around.

  6. Always use a rental car to Death Valley Travel. That way you are more likely to get rescued quicker if car breaks down. But rental cars rarely break down.

  7. For the long haul road trip I'd be inclined to rent a car so that if it acts up then it's on them, otherwise keep you AAA membership active.

  8. I remember death valley from an old western series of the same name "death valley days", to see it as you video it is a real treat !

  9. I remember death valley from an old western series of the same name "death valley days", to see it as you video it is a real treat !

  10. when going to death valley always rent a new mini-van or car, take plenty of water and all is well,because as you see any car that is older has a greater chance of braking down due to that heat !! but good thing it did not end like the Donner party . Great Video guys keep them coming. !!

  11. 3:20 those bikers got some balls riding out there in 110 degree heat. Unless their helmets have a ac unit built in lol

  12. “Less than 40k miles and not a piece of shit”. On the contrary, you found out just what a piece of shit it actually is. Fuckin Ford Tauruses man…. My dad drove three different ones that were government issued vehicles. All pieces of garbage that had constant problems almost from day one. Ford should’ve been sued for those cars. Not your fault, who would think a popular sedan with only 40k miles would have problems?

  13. Why would you not have your car mechanically inspected before taking that kind of trip? You might as well play Russian Roulette!

  14. My mechanic would of have charged you 350. They ripped you off brother. They know you don't have a choice because of location and how desperate you are to get it fix and back to normal life. Great video!

  15. Just saw this – really good job, thanks. But for those who like to travel to remote places, check out an InReach device or something =. As RT Randy so rightly said, they could have died out there. We live only an hour away and anytime we venture into the desert, we pack survival gear and water AND we always have our InReach. And as someone posted we own a Toyota.
    Again, great video.

  16. And here is a primary source verification why you must not do irresponsible things or be miserly in renting a good quality car for the trip. This could have happened to you and your friend. Life is cheap to you and you are extremely immature in determining outcomes. Two people died! Don't you get it?

  17. AC is lubricated 2 stroke style.  So when there is a slow leak, and you continue, compressor looses lubrication.  Also the clutch and pully bearing are two more sources of trouble on these AC systems.  Toyota Hybrid cars drive their compressors electrically, therefore one less possible leak source, ie, no shaft seal to leak.  Also no pulley bearing to fail, and no magnetic clutch which can go open circuit.  As I retired auto mechanic, it's Prius for me!  No belts at all!

  18. Amazing photography & videography. Thank you for posting it. Please keep on sharing your road trips when you get a chance.

  19. Having car problems out there is like that line in Chevy Chase's Vacation movie when he asks how much is the repair going to cost after driving through the barricade and crashing into the desert. The mechanic replies "How much you got?"

  20. Great vid mate. Going next April and looking at things to do.
    Reminded me of driving through the red center of Australia in my '88 short wheel base Land Cruiser, with no Air con!

  21. For anyone watching this please, if you aren't experienced working on cars please consider renting a car for road trips through desolate areas. Also consider learning a little about your car. Anyone can learn basic auto repair with simple tools like Google and YouTube, most repairs are pretty simple when you break them down and even a brand new vehicle can have a defective part leaving you stranded. A serpentine belt costs about $20 and can be replaced with simple tools in hours, even minutes on most older vehicles. I would also consider purchasing a satellite communicator if you frequent desolate areas but even a sat beacon can be worth their several hundred dollar cost as they are a one time purchase that is good for 6 years before needing to be serviced and they do not need fresh batteries or a recharge and work off grid pretty much anywhere you may find yourself stuck. Good luck to all my fellow travelers and adventures.

  22. Very positive road trip, even with the car trouble……awesome footage; did you use a filter on your lens ? if so, what recommendation would you give to enhance the colors while cutting the glare.
    Thanks for sharing !

  23. I started across it on my old camel, Clyde. He collapsed after 12 days without water. I almost didn't make it out carrying that 1200 pound camel on my back.

  24. Did this in 2006 in an RV and we saw signs saying turn off your air con. Like you we kept it on and had no grief but why are the signs there? You are right about nothing there but its is a photographers paradise for sure and there is plenty to go wow at for sure. I need to come back one day b4 I snuff it.

  25. This guy goes out alone –,,,
    but he climbs mountains with a friend –,

  26. My wife and I drove from Perth, Western Australia to Melbourne, Victoria for Christmas and went across the Nullarbor Plain, the trip total is 3200km (2000 miles) whilst the Plain itself is 1675km (1000 miles). Coming back it reached temperatures above 50 degrees C so I fully understand what these two guys went through. Yes it is hot and the Nullarbor Plain actually follows the southern coast of Australia where you can pull over and take photos of the ocean. Lucky for us the air conditioner worked a trick. Cant wait for my USA trip and I definitely want to go to Death valley as it looks amazing

  27. You
    are dumb as rocks!!! "Less than 40,000" That's because it has 140,000!!!! If it had 40,000 miles you would not have had any trouble!!!!

  28. Hi guys iam from Kuwait our desert goes up to 55c in temperature easy so this looks real nice place with salt it's a gold mine if someone knows how to use it… and away from people wow is a blessing from God …

  29. I just was there its beautiful and the golf course was great 200 ft under the sea level. It's called furnace creek a great time

  30. You obviously didn't read the signs saying not to use your AC in the valley due to overheating issues. This may be why your compressor got over worked and failed.

  31. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Did my visit years ago before any park's entry fee. Solo with road map, remember the salt flats, exploring the borax mine, and a mountain cave. A former ranger said a water fall exists, but hidden from tourist. Must have been winter season I visited, in 80's & blue sky.

  32. It sound like a fun trip until the car had problems. That’s my most scared thing about being stranded somewhere

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