Yosemite to Phoenix
After a few nights in the foothills of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, close to the East Entrance of Yosemite National Park, it was time to explore this park. It is well over 30 years since last time we visited this park. Yosemite National Park is a mix of huge Sequoia trees, towering cliffs, wildflowers and great scenery and views.
In fact, you can divide Yosemite National Park in 4 areas.
The High Sierra for those who enter the more remote East Entrance.
This area offers views and scenery, smooth granite domes, sharp mountain peaks, lots of Alpine meadows. To reach the East Entrance of Yosemite National Park we had to follow the road over the Tioga Pass. This is the highest highway pass in California and only opens early July and closes somewhere after the middle of October subject to snow conditions.
The Valley is the tourist hub of the park, and the area where most visitors arrive at the park. Lots of trees and scrubs around the Merced River. The Black Oak trees are providing food for the deer, bears and woodpeckers. In the village we also watched the documentary about Yosemite.
The Granite Cliffs, the most known are El Capitan and Half Dome. Climbers from around the world see this as one of the most challenging climbs. We were told that the sheer granite walls in Yosemite changed the sport of climbing forever.
Tunnel View Leaving the valley past the turnoff to glacier point view we reached Tunnel View car park. If it wasn’t for the bush fires the view would have been amazing and we would have been able to enjoy the expansive views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome. Like the rest of the park, the valley it is very busy with up to 10.000 people visiting every day
This area houses giant Sequoia trees with trunks over 8.5 meters thick. It was here that President Lincoln in 1864 signed the bill that set aside the Mariposa Grove, along with Yosemite Valley. In the Sequoia Groves, the largest Sequoia trees dwarf even the largest pine and fir trees.
Unfortunately, during our visit bushfires made the views poor and many roads were closed including the road to the Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point. At the time no-one could tell us how long the closures were going to last hence we continued south to our next destination Death Valley.
The name Death Valley sounds scary and it comes from a rescue of a party in the mid eighteen fifties when after 4 weeks and hardly any supplies left, they were rescued and upon leaving they said “GOODBYE DEATH VALLEY”. Death Valley is full of other scary names like Hells Gate, Coffin Peak, Funeral Mountain, and Devils Golf Course. Be warned: it does get hot in Death Valley and you do need plenty of water when hiking.
Some call Death Valley the Hottest, Lowest, and Driest in the USA. However, it could be the hottest temperature ever on Earth, if the 57 degrees Celsius measured on July 10, 1913, is correct. Nevertheless, Death Valley is an area of extremes. The ranger station at Furnace Creek had the hottest summer on record in 2018 with an average Day and Night temperature (average 24-hour temperature) of 40.1 degrees Celsius.
For us the reason to visit Death Valley again (last visit was in 2000) was due to the reopening of the park after Hurricane Hilary closed the park in August due to flooding. It reopened 2 days before our visit. The park, which usually has an annual rainfall of 600mm, received that amount in Furnace Creek on Sunday August 22 alone. More than 400 people got stranded as rivers of mud and rocks blocked and wiped away roads.
Death Valley is in California close to the border with Nevada. Death Valley is the fifth largest National Park in the United States as well as the hottest, driest, and lowest of all the national parks in the United States. Its lowest point is at Badlands Basin at 86 meters below sea level. In the early 20th century, a few short-lived boom towns sprang up to mine gold and silver. The only long term mine was the Borax and ruins of the mine still exist.
Initially Death Valley was called a National Monument (1933), before it became a National Park in 1994.
42.5 million visitors, 150.000 hotel rooms, 6.65 million convention attendants and 94% room occupancy.
Known as Vegas and known around the world as the entertainment capital of the world, a resort city for gambling, shopping, fine dining, entertainment, and some of the best nightlife in the world, Las Vegas has more 5 Star hotels than any other city in the world. Las Vegas is one of the top 3 destinations in the USA and possible the world for business conventions. It also ranks as one of the worlds most visited tourist destinations. Las Vegas also is a popular setting for film, TV programs and music videos.
It all started in 1931 when Casino gambling was legalized and reduced residency requirements were put in place for a divorce to be finalized in six weeks. This year also witnessed the beginning of construction on nearby Hoover Dam. The influx of construction workers and their families helped Las Vegas avoid economic troubles during the Great Depression. After World War II lavishly decorated hotels, gambling casinos, and big-name entertainment became synonymous with Las Vegas.
Between the 1950’s and early 1960, s Las Vegas became known as Atomic City when nuclear weapon testing began just 100 kilometres to the northwest of Las Vegas. More than 100 atomic tests we carried out at the Nevada Test site.
In 1955, the Moulin Rouge opened and became the first racially integrated casino-hotel in Las Vegas.
The iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign was created in 1959 by Betty Willis.
The Fremont Street experience in Las Vegas’ downtown area is a canopied five-block area featuring 12.5 million LED lights and 550,000 watts of sound from dusk until midnight during which shows are held at the top of each hour.
2012 was dubbed “The Year of Downtown”. Projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars made their debut at this time, not just new hotels but also the Smith Centre for the performing arts, Discovery Childrens Museum and many more.
Las Vegas is surrounded by mountain ranges. Much of the landscape is rocky and arid, with desert vegetation and wildlife. It can be subjected to torrential flash floods, although much has been done to mitigate the effects of flash floods through improved drainage systems.
The peaks surrounding Las Vegas reach over 3,000 m and act as barriers to the strong flow of moisture from the surrounding area.
During Covid the famed Las Vegas Strip became a ghost town after the governor of Nevada ordered all casinos to be shut down for 30 days to stop the spread of the Corona virus.
Lake Havasu and the Colorado River
After busy and vibrant Las Vegas, it was time to prepare for our journey home, and Lake Havasu was an ideal place to do so. Lake Havasu city is home to the famous London Bridge. When in 1968 the bridge was replaced in London, a local businessman named McCulloch bought it for US$2.5 million from the City of London. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled by a company called Sundt construction at a cost of USD 7 million. It may be the second most visited site in Arizona, but it did not excite us.
Lake Havasu City
This city is growing rapidly and is much enjoyed by retirees. Around 60.000 people live in Lake Havasu. The city is also home to the International World Jet Ski Final Races, multiple professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, the Western Winter Blast pyrotechnics convention, Havasu 95 Speedway, the Chilln-n-Swilln Beer Festival annual charity event, the Havasu Triathlon, and the Havasu Balloon Festival & Fair and Winterfest, an annual event which draws thousands of visitors and residents for two days of food, activities, entertainment, and products from over two hundred vendors from across the United States
Lake Havasu boosts some of Arizona’s best beaches and with a coastline of over 600 kilometers there is a lot to explore. Lake Havasu is a large reservoir formed by the Parker dam. The primary purpose of the lake is to store water. The lake is well known for its recreational fishing and boating.
We decided to stay just south of Lake Havasu City where we did meet our Canadian friends Jason and Bernice and his sister Karen and Brother-in-Law. It also allowed us to get our vehicle set up for the storage in Phoenix.
So, after a week of R&R, we left for the final destination of our Western USA tour, Phoenix.
Phoenix is in the south-central portion of Arizona, about halfway between Tucson Southeast of the City and Flagstaff to the north. Phoenix, the “Valley of the Sun” to locals, is the capital city of Arizona and is in the central region of the state. People may know it for its year-round sun and desert beauty. Other than the mountains in and around the city, Phoenix is generally flat, which allows the city’s main streets to run on a precise grid with wide, open-spaced roadways and freeways.
For now, we are on our way back home and will return to explore the Southern United States in March next year.This entry was posted in Latest Update