Death Valley Junction to Beatty, NV

For whatever reason when I need to get up early (like when I have to work) I struggle to get up when the alarm goes off. But when I want to sleep in (the rest of the time) I am awake at 4:30am.

Just like my first morning outside of Death Valley National Park I was awake at 4:45am although not because I mis-read the clock this time. I managed to convince my body to stay in bed for another hour before I finally crawled out of the warmth and into the frigid 54* morning temperature of the camper which wasn’t much better than the 51* outside temperature.

I slowly packed things away and got them ready for travel before loading the dogs in the truck just as the sun was peaking over the horizon. I headed east, back down the pass towards Death Valley Junction before turning north to Amargosa Valley and Beatty NV.

Freecampsites.net had two locations near Beatty, NV listed for boondocking and I had my directions. I pulled into the first one, Bumbo’s Pond but wasn’t convinced about the location just off the highway and I almost got stuck in the soft dirt.

A few miles up the road, and just west of Beatty, was another recommended dispersed camping area on BLM land. I got out of the truck and walked the area, finding a decent camp site a 1/4 mile from the main road that headed into the national park. Sadly I didn’t manage to get the camper quite level and I was sleeping on a side-to-side incline for a couple of nights despite a couple of levelers under each tire.

With the RV set up I let the dogs play for a while and was really glad to make use of the 4G cell service as I had been without for a few days. I caught up with friends and returned emails and PMs from family.

With such an early arrival to a campsite I used the rest of the day to explore Rhyolite (see below), an historic mining town, and have lunch and get fuel in Beatty. I spent the rest of the day at the camper catching up with my blog, enjoying a beer or two in the sunshine and watching the wild burros across the wash while trying to get my truck stuck in order to get closer to them and get some pictures.


Rhyolite

(Information courtesy of Wikipedia)

Located in the Bullfrog Hills, about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, near the eastern edge of Death Valley. The town began in early 1905 as one of several mining camps that sprang up after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills. During an ensuing gold rush, thousands of gold-seekers, developers, miners and service providers flocked to the Bullfrog Mining District. Many settled in Rhyolite, which lay in a sheltered desert basin near the region’s biggest producer, the Montgomery Shoshone Mine.

After 1920, Rhyolite and its ruins became a tourist attraction and a setting for motion pictures. Most of its buildings crumbled, were salvaged for building materials, or were moved to nearby Beatty or other towns, although the railway depot and a house made chiefly of empty bottles were repaired and preserved.

Also on site is the outdoor museum with some unusual pieces including a nod to the ancient Greek statues with a touch of the very modern.


Next to the old townsite of Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum, a free museum run by the Nevada Nonprofit Organization. There are multiple intriguing and interesting pieces of artwork including some well-known Belgian artist Albert Szukalkski. The first and most prominent sculpture is “The Last Supper” a fiber-glass coated plaster life-size interpretation of the Christ and his disciples reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the same name.

Other additions included other plater-cast figures, the Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada which refers back to classical Greek sculpture while maintaining a pixelated presence in the high-tech world of the 21st century. Various other sculptures and pieces of ironwork provide some interesting insight into how the artists viewed the landscape or felt about the area and its history. You can find more information about Goldwell Open Air Museum at www.goldwellmuseum.org

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