Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Probably nothing conjures to the mind more cinematic visuals than the thought of Death Valley National Park. And behind the morbid name is a large, beautiful piece of land with its own rich bio-diversity.

A land of extremes, the Death Valley national Park has mountain peaks draped in winter snow and it has areas like the Furnace Creek where summer temperatures touch 57 degrees Celsius. The Telescope Peak on the Panamint Range is 3368 metres above sea level, while the Bad Water Basin is 82 metres below! While much of the park is drought hit, rains can cause flash floods. These intense factors create a unique ecosystem and landscape which is like none other one would have seen. Death Valley National Park is a must visit, and we strongly suggesting visiting in Spring or just after the rains when the wildflowers blossom in abundance.

The best way to see the park is, of course, by living inside it. But we hadn’t book well in advance and had to look outside. That could have been a good thing since we ended up staying at Lone Pine, a picturesque town at the foothills of the Alabama range. Death Valley was almost 100 miles from Lone Pine, but the Visitor Centre was right next door.

The drive to Lone Pine itself was gorgeous and as we approached day light started fading but we could see the vastness and the beauty in the landscape. There were wildflower shrubs on either side of the road painting the entire ground in a wonderous yellow.

But it didn’t still prepare us for what we saw inside the park. Death Valley is perhaps the most gorgeous landscape we have visited. Vast empty stretches of wilderness with straight roads. Shrubs on either side with the odd Joshua Tree holding out. If you looked carefully, and stood still long enough, (which is difficult considering the park is so huge and you want to see more of it) you will start seeing the wildlife. Birds, little rodents, pollinators… This place has its own bio-diversity.

Lone Pine Visitor Centre for Death Valley National Park
The Death Valley Visitor Center at Lone Pine. A stop at this place (or any other visitor center) is a must to get your maps, know more about the park and pick up water or any supplies you may need. You also need to buy an entrance pass to the park which is thankfully valid for seven days.
Road to Death Valley National Park
As you approach the park with the gorgeous Alabama Hills behind you, the vast open landscape starts swallowing you…

 

Shurbs of Desert Holly in Death Valley National Park
Shrubs of what look like Desert Holly (Atriplex hymenelytra) on either side of the road.
Alabama Hills from Death Valley National Park
Looking back at the Alabama Hills, in the direction of Lone Pine.
Motorcyclists in Death Valley National Park
We came across this motorcycle group. The landscape of Death Valley is very suited to a biking trip.
Death Valley National Park landscape.
Snow capped peaks in the distance, winding roads through the dry valleys of Death Valley. A truly magical landscape.
Ford Explorer in Death Valley National Park
The amazing Ford Explorer was our rented car for the trip. Perfectly suited for road trips, I wish it was sold in India too.
Sand Dune hills in Death Valley National Park
Sand dune hills look like folds of canvas in the morning light.
Horned Rattlesnake or a Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes) in the Amargosa Desert of Death Valley National Park
What looks like a Horned Rattlesnake or a Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes) in the Amargosa Desert of Death Valley National Park
The Death Valley pupfish (Cyprinodon salinus)
The Death Valley pupfish (Cyprinodon salinus) are found in a tiny stream of water in the Amargosa Desert region. These fish are endemic to this region and classified as highly endangered.
The Mesquite Flat sand dunes at Death Valley National Park
The Mesquite Flat sand dunes are a unique phenomenon here, surrounded by hills.
Mesquite Flats in Death Valley National Park
The area around Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes is also worth exploring. It would be amazing to be able to see this after dark.
Artists Palette, Death Valley National Park
The Artist’s Palette is a black mountain with colourful front due to the oxidation of various minerals found here. This is a classic example of the violent volcanic activity in this region millions of years ago.
Bad Water Basin, Death Valley National Park
The vast white salt desert at Bad Water Basin. This place is 86 meters below sea level and gets over 50 degrees Celsius temperature in the summers. Once a lake, the evaporating waters left the salt behind…
Desert Beetle, Death Valley National Park
If you stand still and look around you will see plenty of wildlife, like this desert beetle going to work.
Burros in Bonnie's Claire, Nevada
We drive down to Nevada from Grapevine in Death Valley to the Bonnie’s Claire Falt. A vast grassland kind of region full of birds, we saw wild Burros a specific breed of donkeys from America.
Nevada Landscape.
Nevada is considered one of the best landscapes ever, and we wished we had more time in hand to explore this wonderful region.
Black Throated Sparrow in Nevada
A Black Throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Wildflowers in Nevada
Tiny wildlflowers grown between the pebbles
Burros in Nevada
A family of Burros we cam across in Nevada. These are the native wild donkeys of North America
Nevada Landscape
The sun kept creating new shadows and patterns…
Introspection in Nevada.
Taking a moment to soak in the beauty. Often when photographing you personally forget to connect with your environs.
Burros in Nevada
A better shot of the Burros
Tiny wildflowers, Nevada
Even tinier wildflowers, Nevada
Late evening, nevada
Slowly as the sun started setting it was time to head back.
American Rosefinch
An American Rosefinch (Haemorhous cassinii) in California
Alabama Hills Panorama
The Alabama Hills clad in snow
Desert shrubs in Death Valley National Park
Desert shrubs form much of the vegetation
Death Valley Landscape
Looking at the view around Death Valley. Mesmerising…
Panamint Springs Restaurant
The resort at Panamint Springs where you can find something to eat.
Death Valley landscape
Absolutely stunning landscapes with clear blue skies…
Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley National Park
At Stove Pipe Wells, another place you can find refreshments and fuel inside the Park
Dust whirl wind at Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley National Park
As I stood at Stove Pipe Wells I noticed this huge whirlwind of dust…
Restaurant at Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley National Park
The restaurant at Stove Pipe Wells serves fantastic American cuisine. A nice place to fill up your car and your tummy.
Dust whirlwind at Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley National Park
Note the size of the dust whirlwind as compared the the parked cars…
Photography inside the Death Valley National Park
There are frames everywhere in Death Valley National Park
Martian soil at Death Valley National Park
The soil makes one feel like one is on Mars…
Towards Amargosa River in Death valley National Park
Walking to the Amargosa River near Saratoga Springs to see some Pupfish
Dry Landscape of Death Valley Nationakl Park
The landscape is very dry…
Amargosa River, Death Valley National Park
The Amargosa River…
Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Unique Desert Tree at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Furnace Creek Visitor Center
The Furnace Creek Visitor Center. These centers are a great place to find more information about the park.
Wildflower at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Wildflower at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Wildflowers at Furnace Creek Visitor Center
More wildfowers at Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Absolutely amazing landscape, check for best light for each landscape.
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
Zebriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

 

The park is 13650 sqKm so keep more than three days to exploring it.

What to see at Death Valley National Park: Do step by the visitor centers at any of the park entrances. If they have a documentary, do try and see it. Collect your maps, drinking water etc here.

20 minutes South of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center is the Devil’s Golf Course, an area of eroded rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires.  30 minutes south of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center is the Bad Water Basin, the lowest point in North America (its about 86 metres below sea level). A large flat area of salt desert, it was once a lake whose waters have evaporated over the years leaving behind salt deposits. In the rains it was some water logging, but it quickly evaporates. Summer temperatures here routinely cross 50 degrees Celsius.

15 minutes south of Furnace Creek is Artists Road and Artists Palette. It’s a drive through old volcanic rock mountains with extremely colourful patterns formed by the oxidation of various minerals.

Zebriskie Point is one of the most famous view points in Death Valley National Park. It is q0 minutes east of Furnace Creek. 15 minutes east of Furnace Creek is the Twenty Mule Team Canyon, a winding off road through ‘otherworldly badlands’.

40 minutes from Furnace Creek is Dante’s View point.l At 1669 meters above sea level, it offers one of the best views in the Death Valley National Park, including an amazing sun rise. It overlooks the Bad Water Basin and the Panamint Mountains.

A few minutes ahead of Furnace Creek is Harmony Borax Works, an old (but no longer functional) Borax factory, one of the earliest attractions in Death Valley.

About 30 minutes west of Furnace Creek are the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the largest sand dune area inside Death Valley National Park.

At the Panamint Springs area look at Darwin Falls, a miracle in the desert. These are spring fed waterfalls and home to migratory birds in spring. Father Crowley Vista is a landscape of dark ancient lava flows and volcanic cinders with a view of the Rainbow Canyon. Lee Flat Joshua Tree is an area for one of the best groves of Joshua Trees. Wildrose Charcoal Kilns are old (now discontinued) structures located in the Wildrose Canyon in Panamint Mountains. The Aguereberry Point gives a very high altitude view of Death Valley from the West.

There’s plenty to see on the Death Valley National park. Make sure you have enough days! We feel at least 4 nights are required here.

Where to Stay at Death Valley National Park: Before you plan your visit do go through the National Park Service website for weather and other details. The best places to stay are inside the park, but you must book them well in advance.

Inside the Park: Stove Pipe Wells is open all year and has simple and affordable accommodation. The Inn at Death Valley (formerly called Furnace Creek Inn) is undergoing remodeling so check them on their website. The Ranch At Death Valley (formerly called Furnace Creek Ranch) is also undergoing remodeling. Open all year round. Panamint Springs Resort is open all year round and offers accommodations and camping. There are plenty of camping options too which may be cheaper. Look at the national park service website. In Furnace Creek you can find all your supplies for camping (not the gear, but food, water, toilet rolls etc).

Outside the park: In case you cant find accommodation inside the park, look at the nearest outside. To the East of Death Valley is Pahrump in Nevada. It has many accommodation options. To the west west is a lovely old town of Bishop. You can find plenty to do and stay at Bishop.

We had stayed at Lone Pine 100 miles from Death Valley’s Furnace Creek Region. But because the roads are good and the journey gorgeous, we never felt we were staying very far away.

 

11 thoughts on “Death Valley National Park”

  1. Breathtaking is an understatement. I have seen photos of this national park before, but your shots exude this peaceful feeling from such a majestic corner of the planet. Great work!

    Reply
    • It does Alok! And do keep a minimum of 4 days. There is enough to explore and we still havent been able to spend a night inside to view the dark night sky!

      Reply

Leave a Comment