We came to Pahrump because it was a cheap week stay, but have been surprised at the amazing things we have found to do (besides Death Valley). Of course, everything is a long drive away, nothing has ever been right at our front door on this trip. We have learned to love the Jeep and the views as we travel from place to place. Also, out here (as opposed to NC and surrounding areas) EVERYTHING is a long way away. There are miles and miles of vast desert wilderness, which can be very beautiful, all surrounded by ever changing mountains. The colors and textures in the mountains (and valleys) never cease to amaze us.
Also on these day trips we change elevation a lot. From below sea level at the Salton Sea and Death Valley up to 5, 6, and 8,000 feet mostly 4,000 to 6,000 down to 1 or 2,000. It is a must to stay hydrated in the desert so we travel with several plastic water bottles each day. One interesting thing we have noticed is that when you go up and down the mountains the water bottles contract and expand if the lid is on tight crackling and popping the whole way!!! Hahaha true, just wanted to share one of our small giggles.
On our way to Death Valley day two, we decided to take the long way and go thru Beatty about 1.5 hours north and visit Rhyolite a ghost town about 4 miles west of Beatty. Gold was discovered in Rhyolite around 1904 and by 1907 it had a population of over 6.000. At its height, Rhyolite had access from 3 railroads, 50 saloons, 2 churches, 18 stores, 2 undertakers, 2 dentists, an opera house, a telephone company, electric power plant, 3 ice plants (necessary), 4 newspapers and 2 stock exchanges. Its height did not last long because although there was gold it was difficulty to extract. It is now a really interesting ghost town, you can see the grid lay out to the streets and several ruins of buildings including a three-story bank, jail house and rail road depot. The rest was either sold or pilfered.
Although there are not many intact buildings, one that remains or has been restored is a bottle house. The structure is made of over 20,000 bottles which were used due to the lack of building materials. It is hard to imagine having this many bottles much less building a house out of them. Ideas for our next house??? But where to store the bottles in the meantime….
At the ghost town was also the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which is an artist retreat as well. The Museum began in 1984 when Belgian artist Albert Szukalski created the first installation “The Last Supper.” Life sized ghostly figures posed after the famous Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. It is really quite impressive and although looks fragile it must be pretty darn sturdy to have withheld being outside in the desert for over 30 years. Several other pieces were created here in the early 1990 by other well known Belgian artists. More recently they established a not for profit and have artist programs and residencies on site creating more works for the garden, but also indoors multipurpose studios, with performance and exhibition space.
About 45 minutes south east just outside of Las Vegas is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a 13 mile scenic drive with many hiking trails and rock climbing opportunities. If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, you have to go. It is literally minutes from the city limits and only $7 entrance fee or free with our Pass Port America annual National Park Pass. You could spend a full day hiking and taking in the views.
Another interesting spot we found are the Dublin Caves in Shoshone, CA. This small (population 31) town is about half way between Pahrump, NV and Death Valley. It not only has a free museum (small but interesting) but also cave houses. They say the caves were actively used from the early 1900’s until the 1960’s by miners and vagabonds. Caves are warm in the winter and cool in the summer and looked livable with stovepipe chimneys, alcoves on the walls, split level floor plans and an outhouse. Idea #2 for our next house???
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is an oasis in the Amargose Valley part of the Mojave Desert about 22 miles west of Pahrump. This oasis was very different from the one we saw in Coachella Valley, instead of palm trees it had Ash and Mesquite trees and lots of what appeared to be marsh grasses. It is made up of several springs which put together pump 2,800 gallons of water a minute. I guess the Coachella oasis is from a spring as well (where else would the water come from?) but it must not pump as much as these. There were small streams all over the property and 2 large reservoirs with the clearest blue-green water you have ever seen. This was also the most water we have seen in a couple of months so that was refreshing.
Finally, on our trip across just outside of Baker, CA we saw a real live mirage. We have seen the shimmering on hot asphalt and the hot beach sand, but never a full lake with reflections of mountains that disappear the closer you get. It was truly an amazing site, the pictures did not come out that well, but I couldn’t not make mention of this site as we were both amazed!!! Until next time Peace and Love.