The Beauty of Death Valley… The National Park Series

Perched above Gold Canyon off of Highway 190 , Zabriskie Point provides one of many beautiful views in Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley exists in a world of superlatives. It is the hottest, driest and lowest spot in North America. Temperatures often exceed 120° F in the summer and have climbed as high as 138° F.  Ground temperatures top out at 200° F! Annual rainfall averages less than two inches (5 cm.). The lowest spot in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level in Badwater Basin.

Hottest, driest and lowest spot in North America are three superlatives applied to Death Valley. The Peripatetic Bone, who has been wandering the world since 1977, perches on the sign locating the lowest spot in North America in Badwater Basin Death Valley.

While hottest, driest and lowest are adjectives one normally associates with Death Valley National Park, there is one more: beautiful. I have tried to convey this beauty in my last several blogs. Today’s blog will feature several other places I find beautiful or unusual in Death Valley but have not yet featured.

I would also like to emphasize that this is National Park Week (April 21 – 29, 2012). National Parks in the United States (and throughout the world) protect and highlight many of our greatest natural and historical treasures for both present and future generations. They deserve our full support and are always worth visiting.

My wife Peggy and I have had the privilege of exploring most of the National Parks in the United States and several in Canada. My intention is to share our favorites over the next year or two as part of my blogging

Another view from Zabriskie Point. Pioneers designated such areas as Badlands... i.e. they weren't good for growing crops or grazing animals. Today, we realize their intrinsic beauty is a value in itself.

The nine-mile Artist's Drive and Palate off of Badwater Road provides a profusion of colored rocks as the name suggests. These colors are created by the different sedimentary rocks and oxides of various metals. This area was once volcanically active.

A closeup of Artist's Palate.

Two to four thousand years ago the floor of Death Valley was covered with a large lake up to 30 feet in depth. Then the climate changed (sound familiar?). The lake dried up and left behind the minerals that had been dissolved in the water... mainly salt. Today this salt works its way to the surface and forms pinnacles through capillary action. The result is the Devil's Golf Course. Peggy provides perspective on the size of the pinnacles.

A final view looking across Death Valley.

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