Along with all of you, we have been in self quarantine. I wrote this blog several weeks ago before Covid-19 was on our radar. I hope that reading about Death Valley NP will create a small diversion as we all shelter in place.
Our quest to visit all the U.S. National Parks continues and because we were in Palm Springs this winter, a trip to Death Valley was within reach. With such a foreboding name, I could not generate much interest in this park… but Stephen was game.
While Stephen spent several days researching and planning a full day of park highlights, I dragged my feet and reminded him that Death Valley is the hottest and driest park in the nation. He was undeterred so I figured a quick drive-by would satisfy him and also allow us to cross this park off our bucket list.
With several spots marked on our map, Stephen began driving while I sat dubiously in the passenger seat sipping coffee and hoping the day would pass quickly. Just ten minutes after crossing the park boundary my entire demeanor changed. I sat up and realized this was no ordinary park. Rugged mountain ranges on both sides enveloped us and the further we drove the landscape became more interesting.
We were in a desolate place but the landscape was stunning. Sharp angled rocks and mountains eventually turned to sandstone and white rolling hills. There was very little vegetation which added to the peculiar but beautiful landscape. Zabriskie Point was our first stop and we embarked on a three mile hike over the white sandstone hills and into the canyons. There were others exploring in the park but we were very much alone in this area.
Following the hike we visited the famous area called Badwater Basin, the lowest North American elevation at 282 feet below sea level. The white stuff in the photo appears to be snow but is actually a salt flat with briny puddles in the background.
The day continued with a trip through Artist Canyon where pink, aqua, and purple hills are the result of metal oxidation in the soil. The beautiful view looked like someone had splashed buckets of paint throughout the hillsides.
We had a terrific day and I apologized to Stephen for dragging my feet. While I originally thought this park was inaccurately named, we encountered some crazy weather events that caused me to think otherwise. An unexpected windstorm stirred up dust thicker than fog and a blinding snow storm appeared out of nowhere. I’m not keen on the name Death Valley but maybe it has earned its reputation. Regardless, this is a beautiful park that is now on our top five list. It is worthy of a second visit.