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March 28, 2011

National Parks: Death Valley, Charcoal Kilns

Filed under: National Parks, Southwest United States, The List, Travel, United States — anotherheader @ 2:48 pm

Charcoal Kilns in a line

Many of Death Valley’s attractions sit at the margin of the deep basin and the hillsides.  Indeed visitors typically spend most of their visits low in the valley.  But there are things to see higher up in the National Park’s mountains.  During our stay we visited one such sight, the Charcoal Kilns.

The valley’s historic mining activities required charcoal.  With no trees near the valley’s mines, charcoal production was forced up high into the mountains near the Spartan pinyon pine forest.  To reach the kilns it is a long drive from our Stovepipe Wells base.  After an hour or so, we reached the restored beehive kilns at the edge of the winter’s snow.  Outside the truck, the air was cool and brisk.

Laid out in a line are ten beehive-shaped charcoal kilns made of mortar and rock.  In amongst the pinyon trees and the mountain environment, the kilns look like a piece of abstract art.  Somehow they fit into the environment; somehow they don’t.

Traveling with a dog occasionally brings out the unexpected.  It was Gigi’s first time on snow.  At first she approached the cold white stuff with trepidation.  It’s white; it’ cold; it’s scary.  After she overcame her fear it was time to play.  Gigi would have been happy to slide around on the snow bank chasing pinecones all day.  But our exploration of the kilns did not take long.  Soon enough, despite Gigi’s requests, we were back in the car heading back to the valley floor.

We’d seen the kilns; Gigi had seen the snow.  The snow wasn’t very interesting to us; the kilns weren’t very interesting to Gigi.  In the end, somehow both the humans and the canine both figured the excursion was for them.

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1 Comment »

  1. I’ve read all your Death Valley entries so far. The pictures are stunning. They took my breath away.
    As always Gigi-tales made me smile.

    Comment by Judy Gray — March 28, 2011 @ 6:47 pm


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