Roam America’s largest national park outside Alaska: 3,373,063-acre Death Valley National Park. Despite its rather foreboding name, Death Valley represents a stellar trekking destination. Hikers and bikers, climbers to rock hounds come to marvel at Spring’s astounding wildflower blooms, not to mention the mild temperatures of fall and winter. Outdoorspeople will relish no less than 3,000-square miles of headspace, while cyclists find enviable elbowroom afforded by 350-miles of road and trails. (A full 91% of Death Valley is designated wilderness.)
We cycle across the big valley floor, stopping to visit historic sites, most of them accessed by 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) roads. Almost immediately we come to appreciate a very subtle legacy of the CCC: the bygone wisdom seen in roads built to respect, rather than conquer the landscape.
From slick Kevlar tires to thick Vibram soles, we navigate around and visually inhale sunbaked foothills, knolls, and stacks of boulders etched in yellow clay, rose and tan. These fantastic landscape features would serve as the backdrop for the first Star Wars film, Death Valley standing in for the planet Tatooine.
Each day in this storied place—contemplating 20-mule team wagons, Death Valley Scotty, the lost 49ers—you wake up in unfettered horizon. The evenings are given over to serious unwinding—“Prickly Pear margaritas, anyone?”—wrapped in great theatre: watching the two-mile high, 60-mile long Panamint Mountains, the valley’s defining range to the West, transition from shades of cool blue to a deep, purple bruise as the evening light drops away. In the other direction, the Amargosa range to the east is nothing less than radiant, bathed in bronze tones.
We are the authentic conscience of adventure outfitters: our desert West trips represent the standard by which others judge. Or aspire to. Reflexively, when you experience these lands by mountain bike, led by people who have a deep connection to Red Rock and Death Valley, you’ll quickly learn this is not a place to be endured, but rather a world-class outdoor recreation destination.
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