September 5th, 2020 to September 13th, 2020 | 40 – 80’F | Desert

September 5th

We were driving through the Sierra, looking for a place to camp out. The temperature is over 105°F/ 40°C, thick clouds of smoke hover over us. The sky turned orange; we checked the news and realized that a wild fire has broken out 200 miles away from us. We got out of our car to check the air – it was unbreathable and would only get worse, so we drove to the nearest motel and stayed the night there. Our drove felt apocalyptic and surreal – a “The Road” and “Blade Runner” moment.


September 6th – 8th | Great Basin National Park, Nevada

We drove for more than 10 hours, split over 2 days, through large desolate areas of Nevada, and arrived at Great Basin National Park, the start of our week long desert trip.
This high desert, also known as the Sagebrush Country, is our favorite type of landscape. A rugged wilderness, with flat stretches of silvery grey sagebrush in the backdrops of mountain ranges. Stillness and silence encompass the landscape as we immerse in solitude. All around, we see a fascinating diversity of plants and wildlife: sagebrush, aspen, pinon pines, desert iguana, cottontails etc. We hiked through bristlecone pines that were born in 100BC, had lunch by Teresa Alpine Lake and arrived at Wheeler Peak Glacier, the only glacier in Nevada, sadly fast disappearing due to climate change.
When we awoke to the cries of ravens on Tuesday, the blue desert skies have been concealed by the fire smoke from California; the heatwave of 105°F/ 41° C has now plummeted to 35°F/2°C from a cold front. Tiny drops of snow mixed with ash fell upon us. Not letting this bring our spirits down, we made breakfast, decided on our next destination based on AQI and the weather, packed up and got on the road with Steve (name of our Subaru)!


September 8th – 9th | Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

From Great Basin National Park, we drove 2 hours south and arrived at Cathedral Gorge State Park.
We were surrounded by spires that are the result of geological processes from tens of millions of years ago, where erosion has carved dramatic and unique patterns in the soft bentonite clay. Within these spires are small slot canyons where we spent the evening and the next morning exploring.
When night fell, the most spectacular arch of the Milky Way rose over the horizon…


September 9th – 11th | Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

I have been searching for the Desert Bighorn Sheep for 3 years. My spirit animal, we are both stubborn but tough; we both long to live in solitude in the desert mountains.

Mike and I selected a walk-in camp site at Atlatl Rock Campground when we arrived at Valley of Fire. As we approached our site, Mike shouted “Bighorn sheep!!”. I looked over and saw a still creature, what looks like a bronze statue to me, which I have seen twice in the towns we have just driven through. “Nah, that’s just a statue,” I said. Then it moved! We couldn’t believe our eyes. Right in front of us were 2 Bighorn Sheep!

Over the next 2 days, we saw more Bighorn Sheep. Each time, we felt as exhilarated and lucky. We also encountered kit foxes, black-tailed jackrabbits, white-tailed antelope ground squirrels, gambel’s quails, desert kangaroo rats; cutest being the kit foxes who would casually sneak past us in the evenings hunting for rats.

As fascinating is the geology here. This landscape contains formations of multi-colored eroded sandstone more than 150 million years, formed by complex uplifting, faulting and erosion of the region. On the sandstone’s black patina throughout the park are petroglyphs that depict images from daily life drawn by the Anasazi and Paiute tribes dating from 300BC to 1150AD.


September 11th to 12th | Mojave National Preserve, California

A stopover at Mojave National Preserve on the way home. The Mojave is Mike’s favorite place because it is so isolated and silent, which are rare to find and be able to immerse in these days.

We drove through dirt roads to an isolated site and set up our tent. The evening was silent, apart from sporadic sharp howls from the coyotes, evoking a sense of solitude and wilderness.


September 12th to 13th | Fossil Falls, California

Fossil Falls was our last camping stop before heading home. A small secluded campground, we were surrounded by large, spectacular black basaltic rocks from lava flow that was sculpted by rushing water and wind late in the Ice Ages. 🖤🖤

About the author

Dee Dee Lim is a architect and potter who loves nature and camping. She romantizes about living in the desert with Mike, Pepper (our cat), goats, a ceramic studio and a vegetable garden.