Where Legends Go To Die- the Ghost Town of Rhyolite, Nevada

Rhyolite Ghost Town Train Station, Rhyolite Ghost Town Rhyolite Ghost Town Rhyolite Ghost Town Rhyolite Ghost Town Rhyolite Ghost Town Rhyolite Ghost Town

There’s places you visit where you feel like if you could just reach out and touch the right surface, you might get a true glimpse into the past.

I pick the places I visit based on just one thing- my interest in them. There’s places in Death Valley National Park that are known as “must visit” places that we skipped over (like Zabriskie Point) either because I didn’t feel like battling the crowds to get to them or because there were other places I wanted to see more. No one recommended the ghost town site of Skidoo and yet, it was my most favorite part of the trip.

Rhyolite would be a close second except for the fun fact that technically, it’s not actually part of Death Valley NP. It lies just outside the boundaries of the park, on the way to the town of Beatty and U.S. Route 95 (which will take you back to Las Vegas). If you’re heading out of the park in that direction or you happen to be taking the difficult way into Titus Canyon, which IS in the parks boundaries, then I highly recommend taking a small detour to check this place out. Or you can go like I did, aiming full on ready just for this ghost town and nothing else.

There were only a few people walking around when we got here, and as the sun crept lower and lower, the eeriness of the town grew. I really enjoy visiting and exploring abandoned areas and structures- there’s just something about places that time has passed on by that just tugs at something deep within me- and Rhyolite is so far the best of these places i’ve visited. If you’re at all interested in places like this and your in the area (or even if your not) I couldn’t recommend making a trip out here more than I already have.

For more info on this town and it’s history,here’s a good primer.

~m

The Desert Swallows All- Death Valley NP, California

Death Valley National Park, Abandon places



At a slow pace, it devours all

I feel like i’m being super creepy with the way i’ve been writing about Death Valley, at least with the last two posts BUT i’m nothing if not honest and its all fun and games out here until you realize you’re dozens of miles away from the next living person.
Which is both awesome and terrifying.

Still editing the last post for the Death Valley portion of the trip (the ghost town of Rhyolite) after which we’ve still got Joshua Tree, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain and Carlsbad Caverns. I’m seriously the worst at procrastination but I feel like considering all the different places I went on this last trip, I’m gonna cut myself some slack- but just a little.

~m

The Voices In the Hills- Skidoo Ghost Town, Death Valley National Park, California

Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP

Have you ever seen the movie, the Hills Have Eyes?

Even if you haven’t, i’m sure you’ve heard of it….or you at least have an idea of what i’m getting at.

It would be pretty fair to say this was the part of the park that we spent the most time at, though Rhyolite would probably be a close second (though technically not actually within the boundaries of the park…but more on that later). I definetly enjoyed my time here- it was worth the bumpy and at times slightly perilous drive to get out there and the complete solitude was just perfection, but….

So. I have a pretty active imagination- some might say over active- and while at first the complete solitude in this area was amazing, after the first hour it went from amazing to somewhat more, how shall we say, eerie? Its the remneants of a ghost town complete with the decaying structure of an abandoned stamp mill, so of course we expected a certain amount of eerie solitude. But the whole time we were there in that part of the park, about 2 almost 3 hours, we didn’t see one single person (or animal) around. Not even birds in the sky. And after we’d gotten out fill of exploring the stamp mill, we headed back to the towns original location and thats when we started noticing the doors.

The town of Skidoo was a gold mining town- hence the stamp mill- which results in oddities like doors carved into hills. Some are high up and far away from the road, just dark blots on the landscape of rolling hills but others…. well, others seem to appear out of almost nowhere, you just look out your car window and happen to spot a door ajar, tucked in the mouth of a hill just by the side of the road. And your mind can’t help but wonder if anything lives beyond those doors, down in the darkness deep in those hills.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t make the journey out to Skidoo, I had a blast exploring out there and honestly just reveling in the uniqueness of the experience but yeah, just be aware it’s not really an adventure you’d want to do by yourself for a multitude of reasons (one of them being no cell service unless you get up high on the hills).

Explore responsibly, don’t leave any trace of yourself behind and maybe don’t go peeking behind half opened doors that lead into abandoned mine shafts,
~m

P.S if you’d like to read more on the Skidoo’s town history, this is a really informative site.

Dante’s View (not as hellish as you’d think)- Death Valley National Park, California

Dante's View, Death Valley National Park Dante's View, Death Valley NP

In my last post, as is now customary (because I give procrastination a new name) i’ll go over the drive from Canyonlands to the little town we stayed at about an hour outside of Las Vegas and the almost 2 hour long detour we took to grab pizza at this amazing little pizza joint just outside Zion National Park but, for now, lets talk about the frankly unexpected and almost whimsical nature of this park named Death Valley.

From Dante’s View to Artists Drive, Desolation Canyon to Bad Water Basin and my two favorites Devils Golf course and Devils Cornfield, there’s just an over abundance of imagination and even humour that I wouldn’t have expected here. And part of me wonders if this is one of those cases where you laugh because if you didn’t, you would cry.

There is definitely….I don’t want to say a reason to be depressed when you’re here, but it’s very easy to imagine the kind of despair and utter desperation you might feel if you were stuck out here with no real sense of which way was out.  And Dante’s View is a perfect example of that. Not only is it a bit of a desolate drive to get up here, it’s not an easy one. And the view when you do make it up there is something entirely unexpected.

This was our first stop in the park, as we entered from the East by Death Valley Junction (passing the rather deserted and slightly creepy Amargosa Opera House) and looking back on it now, it was the perfect way to be introduced to the park. Once we’d made it  up the insanely steep final mile, we gazed out at what looked exactly like a valley devoid of all life, the full embodiment of the parks name laid out bare before us. And it was breathtaking but it was also both over- and underwhelming. Overwhelming in the sense that you get a better idea of exactly how immense the area this park covers is, and underwhelming because you look out over the landscape and see what could be described as a desolate wasteland.

But then you go closer to the edge, get your eyes used to the view and the muted tones and you start seeing all the variations and subtle colors in the landscape, the cars whizzing by below like tiny toy cars on a black ribbon, the way the land rises and falls like a tired dry ocean. It becomes breathtaking in an almost literal way the further from the parking lot you get, the harsh wind coming up off the valley buffeting you from all sides and stealing the air from your lungs to take elsewhere.

It’s a fantastic view, basically. And I recommend stopping here either on your way into the park or out, as a magnificent hello or a beautiful goodbye.

~m

 

Unexpected Dinosaurs- October Roadtrip 2016, American Southwest and California

So, it’s been a good while since i’ve posted anything on here hasn’t it? Literally more than a month since my last post actually and yet for once I have a legit excuse that doesn’t involve work, procrastination or personal turbulence. Ok lie, there’s a fair bit of procrastination involved BUT in general i’ve been busy preparing and planning for this massively insane roadtrip and also going on this massively insane roadtrip.

the bf at Rhyolitems fables exploring in Death Valley
the bf and Cayonlands NP

Heres some fun numbers for you guys:

6- the number of times the intinerary was reworked
4,805 – total miles traveled
2- tow trucks involved
5- National Parks that were visited
1- Desert kit foxes seen wandering around Joshua Tree NP
3- times zones driven through
12- estimated number of unexpected dinosaurs encountered
2- the number of times we drove almost an hour out of our way for tasty food stuff
3- the number of times I thought we were going to die in Death Valley NP
4- flannel shirts worn
32- projected posts i’ve got outlined from all the photos and adventures we went on
0- the number of times I regretted going on this roadtrip

Anyways, this post is just to give a heads up about what i’ll be posting about for the next couple of months probably, given my average sporadic rate of completion on posts and the limited time I have to edit photos (I need to be able to actually eat once in a while on my lunch hour).

not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m