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Las Vegas to Death Valley – The Ghost Town Route

Trip details: 137 Miles / 220 Kilometers one way

An Epik Route of note, the trip to Death Valley National Park must rank high on any adventurer’s list. Don’t get fooled by the long and straight stretch of US Route 95 (Veterans Memorial Highway) at the outset of the journey for this is not about to turn into a day of mind-numbing mile milling. In fact, US Route 95 is one of the few major north-south arteries of the western United States that has not been replaced by an interstate corridor – and, in case you wondered, that’s a big plus for the leisurely tourist.

It is a pleasant road with light traffic as you head northwest out of Las Vegas in the direction of Corn Creek and Creech Air Force Base, home to a major command and control facility of ‘remotely piloted aircraft systems’ – aka drones – that fly missions across the globe. Just 2.5 miles past the base, turn left at the Cactus Springs intersection. Flanked by a grove of cottonwood trees, this is the entrance to the Temple of the Goddess Spirituality.1

To reach this site of inner reflection you do have navigate the unpaved parking area to its far-right corner where a gravel road starts which, after a few hundred feet, leads you to the shrine. Just follow the signs. Should you get lost, call priestess Candace Ross at (702) 569-0630. She’ll come to your rescue and lead the way. The temple is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
The site is dedicated to Sekhmet, a goddess of both war and healing from Egyptian mythology. Sekhmet is usually depicted as a lioness and was considered the protector of pharaohs, both during their lifetimes and in the hereafter.

After taking up on spirituality, wind your way back to Route 95 and continue towards Amargosa Valley where you’ll want to visit the Area 51 Alien Center which is, appropriately enough, open 24/7. Look around and load up on out-of-this-world souvenirs. To still your appetite, head to the Amargosa Valley Bar on the opposite side of the highway, also open ‘round the clock and billed as the ‘finest oasis’ this side of Death Valley.

Duly fortified and energized for the final part of the trip, turn to Beatty, a 30-minute drive distant. Should you have skipped lunch, why not take a break at Mel’s Diner for a wholesome experience reminiscent of years gone by. At Beatty turn left (south) onto Nevada State Route (SR) 374 otherwise known as Death Valley Road. To get a taste of the macabre, stop at the Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery. Start at Bottle House and get a tour map of the area.

Rhyolite is a surprisingly well-preserved ghost town that enjoyed a short-lived boom that lasted only ten years and ended in 1911 with the closure of the Montgomery Shoshone Mine. A few years later, the electricity was shut off and Rhyolite – once the third largest settlement in Nevada with some 8,000 inhabitants and boasting an opera house and stock exchange – became a ghost town. The former bank, casino, and general store buildings are still standing and easily recognizable. Star attraction is the Rhyolite Train Depot which is not only intact but exudes a grandeur that contrasts rather sharply with its desolate surroundings.
Dare drive just a little further into the desert to visit the cemetery.  Should you have an Epik 4×4, drive a bit further still to the Titus Canyon Trailhead – a place of exceptional and dramatic natural beauty.
Now, turn back to SR 374 and keep heading south. Cross the California state line and keep going until the Death Valley National Park Information Area. Have plenty of cool liquids handy and be prepared for the heat.

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