What do the words “death valley” conjure up in your mind? Endless desert and sand dunes? Blistering heat? Maybe the TV show “Death Valley Days,” Ronald Reagan, or 20 Mule Team Borax (if you are old enough)? The lowest place in the United States? If you think of these things in conjunction with Death Valley National Park, you’d be correct. But did you know that Death Valley also has beautiful mountains? In fact, it’s next door neighbor, Mt. Whitney, is the highest point in the lower 48.
We recently spent several days exploring this wonderful national park. And, by the way, it is the largest NP in the lower 48. So, here are some of the expected photos. (Oh, I should mention, the weather was great while we were there in April.)
Yep, barren (almost), colorless desert. Even the sky was washed out:
And there are, of course, cacti, which do bloom in the spring:
The ruins are from the mining days – think 20 Mule Team Borax:
If you are at the lowest place in the U.S., you have to prove it by taking a picture of the sign:
Yes, the water really is bad here. In fact, it’s very salty, with plenty of crystals to prove it. Death Valley is NOT a valley, but a basin, so the water evaporates leaving behind the minerals. Just after sunrise, the water, crystals, mountains, desert, and sky merge into a beautiful scene:
You have to get up really early to photograph sand dunes without footprints. We didn’t:
It was only 300 years ago that a volcano in the area erupted, forming Ubehebe Crater:
The highest mountain in Death Valley National Park is 11,049 foot Telescope Peak. The vertical drop from the peak to the Badwater Basin is twice the depth of Grand Canyon [NPS brochure]. But we went where everyone else goes to look into the basin – Dante’s View. Spectacular, even if only at 5000 feet:
I think Death Valley is the rockiest place I have ever been. But some of those rocks are amazing! Color is one of the first things you notice in the park. There is even an area called Artist Palette because of the hues:
Sunset/moonrise along the Artist Palette drive was stunning:
Many photographers gather at Zabriskie Point at sunrise. It is no wonder:
OK, was all the scrolling worth it? Next installment will be Death Valley – What You Didn’t Expect.