Truth be told, I was never interested in visiting or photographing Death Valley until the last few years. I had a pre-conceived notion of what this arid desert would look like, and it wasn’t until I started seeing photos of this National Park from fellow nature photographers that I knew I had to go. There is a beauty to Death Valley that is difficult to describe. The shapes and textures of the terrain are unlike anywhere else. After spending four glorious days here, I found myself wondering why it took so long to discover this jewel. The landscape is breathtaking, and I can foresee many return trips.
There are only a couple of accommodations inside the park, both very overpriced. I opted to stay at the Longstreet Inn & Casino on the Nevada side, which was only a half-hour drive outside the park and a much more affordable option.
My first stop was at Artist's Palette, which is accessed by a 9 mile one-way road on the south side of Death Valley. The drive winds through canyons and mountains, with a turnout at the Artist's Palette lookout. The location is appropriately named, since the colors in the mountain are extraordinary. The colors are produced by oxidation of the metals and elements in the ground, creating a rainbow effect including greens, blues, purples, and oranges. Then if you turn around to face the other direction, this is what you get.
The next morning was spent at Zabriskie Point, probably the most visited overlook at Death Valley. The texture, size, and shapes of the mountains from this point are jaw-dropping. As you might expect, sunrise and sunset are the prime time to be here. Photographers can have a heyday at this spot, especially those interested in abstract lines and curves. There are also a number of hiking trails for those who wish to see more of the area than just from above.