Death Valley National Park surprised me with countless textures and shapes and colors of rock and mud and clay and stone. I wanted to stop the van every few miles and capture images. And there were vast open spaces, no cars or roads or telephone poles or power lines to litter the eye. Not even trees to block the sight line to the bases of mountains rising up in a snowy patchwork.
Even the weather surprised me with its variety – snow (in the upper elevations), some rain with standing pools of water turning the dust red, surrounding dried-out sage brush. Imagine photographing steam rising from the clay furrows at Zabriskie Point! And there were just enough mostly scattered clouds to give color and texture to the sky.
What Death Valley National Park shows me are the phases of an ongoing geological process that’s over 5,000,000 years old. Pretty long time. 70,000 lifetimes or so. I’m glad I had a chance to see it in this one.
Death Valley National Park has the widest variation in geological forms and colors I have ever seen. This image shows the Mesquite Sand Dunes like waves of gold stretching below the Grapevine Mountain Range.
This trip also included a drive to Lone Pine, California, in the foot hills of the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. They’re called the Alabama Hills — unusual and beautiful rock formations and a few arches. In the early days of movies, westerns were filmed in this site because of its scenic rock formations and nearness to a local town.
Zabriskie Point is a part of the Amargosa Range in Death Valley National Park. Its erosional landscape is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago. The site was named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century. The company’s famous, iconic twenty-mule teams transported borax from its mining operations in Death Valley.