Death Valley National Park – A Colorful Destination You Can’t Afford to Miss
You may think of the Death Valley National Park as a dry, dreary, lifeless place. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how colorful it actually is. It has some features that can’t simply be found elsewhere, and will make your vacation unforgettable. Here are a few of the many beautiful attractions in the National Park that will make you feel like visiting the Valley as soon as possible.
Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America lying 282 feet below sea level and is perhaps the most popular spot in the Death Valley National Park. It’s located on the south end of the park. The name of the basin has an interesting history. A traveler’s mule refused to drink the water here and hence the basin was named Badwater. The water here is bad in the sense that it’s full of salt. There is a firm wooden platform here from which you get the view of a huge lake that looks like snow, but actually is the leftover salt from the evaporated water. It’s a unique experience because you can view the expanse as far as your eyes can see. The Travel Bargain is an excellent travel guide which will help you reach the Basin. Otherwise you can reach there when you come up from the Baker town. As there is only one main road that passes through the park from that direction, you can hardly miss it. You can also reach there from Furnace Creek.
Natural Bridge Canyon Trail
Natural Bridge Canyon is one of the several easily explored side canyons in the cliffs on the eastside of Death Valley. It’s located 4 miles south of the beginning of the scenic Artist’s Drive loop. It’s a large natural bridge that can be reached after a short walk up the stony streambed. Actually, the National Park is full of such features that can be found after a 3-mile walk up Little Bridge Canyon, the next main drainage, south of Grotto Canyon near Stovepipe Wells. The Canyon can be reached by a spur road off CA178. A still better way to reach there is to take help of The Travel Bargain travel guide.
The Artist’s Drive that ends with the Artist’s Palette is a unique feature of the Death Valley National Park. It takes you through canyons and past mountains, several of which have magnificent colors. The road to the Drive is pretty curvy and vehicles longer than 25 feet are not allowed on it. The most beautiful part, the Artist’s Palette, comes after around 5 miles of driving. Here all the colors collect in this one particular canyon. The colors are formed by the oxidation of elements and metals found in the area. Colors across the spectrum can be seen at this formation. The beginning of the Drive is clearly marked and will take around 45 minutes to arrive. You can take help of The Travel Bargain travel guide to make your access easy.
Zabriskie Point in the Death Valley is especially coveted for the spectacular views it offers. Named after Christian Zabriskie, a leading personality in the peak time of the Pacific Coast Borax Company, Zabriskie Point is located at a strategic high point from where a breathtaking vista of the badlands below can be taken. The Badlands are glorious hills made of brown and yellow stripes carved by the mighty gush of water. But that’s not all! Still further you can see the salt flats that cover the Death Valley’s floor, with the gigantic Panamint Mountains towering above.
But the most beautiful view offered by Zabriskie Point is of Manly Beacon. This protruding high point is 823 ft. (251 m) high and is named after one of the first 49 visitors to the area. If you want to view the optimum grandeur of this place, visit it at sunrise or sunset.
It’s better to refer to the directions of The Travel Bargain travel guide to reach Zabriskie Point. But if you want to be on your own, you can reach the parking lot of this amazing viewpoint after a 15-minute drive east on Highway 190 from Furnace Creek Visitor Center. From the parking area, the Point is a ¼ mile walk up a hill on a paved trail. Hikers can hike in the badlands up the Badlands Loop Trail.
When one hears about or visits the Death Valley for the first time, they imagine a huge expanse of sand, but they are surprised to see very little sand in sight. Actually only 1% of the area is covered with sand dunes, and hence, this unique, fragile desert is protected as wilderness. It’s closed to off-road vehicular traffic, and some of the dunes are closed to sledding, sand skiing and sand boarding.
Mesquite Sand Dunes: These dunes are the most renowned and easiest to access. Although their maximum height is only around 100 feet, their expanse is quite big. They contain 3 types of dunes: star-shaped, linear and crescent. Their floor is formed of polygon-cracked clay of an ancient lakebed. Stable habitats have been provided by large hillocks created by mesquite trees. This area is open for sand boarding. It’s located in central Death Valley close to Stovepipe Wells and can be accessed from Hwy 190 or from the unpaved Sand Dunes Road. Or else, The Travel Bargain travel guide can help you.
Ibex Dunes: To reach Ibex Dunes, you’ll have to hike around 1 mile from the Saratoga Springs. They are the habitat of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard. These dunes are closed to sand boarding.
Panamint Dunes: These dunes can be seen to the north while crossing Panamint Valley on Hwy 190. If you want to take a closer look, you’ll have to drive 5 miles down an unmarked dirt road past Lake Hill and then hike cross-country 3 miles. These dunes are rested on a slope unlike the other Death Valley sand dunes which are located on flat valley floors. They are closed to sand boarding.
Saline Valley Dunes: These low dunes gently ripple up from the edge of salt flats and you have to take a long, rough drive to reach them; so, you’ll have to come prepared. The Inyo Mountains here are around 10,000 feet high. Sandboarding is allowed in this area.
Eureka Dunes: Eureka Dunes located northwest of Death Valley are in the form of a pale sand mountain hovering over the flat valley floor. They are adorned by prominent pink, black and gray strips on the towering cliffs. As such, the area of these dunes is small i.e. 3 x 1 mile. Still, they boast of being the tallest sand dunes in California. They are closed for sand boarding.
You can get all the information of all the dunes at The Travel Bargain travel guide.
And there are so many more! The Death Valley National Park is crazily full of amazing attractions that you just couldn’t have imagined to exist. So, have you started planning a trip to Death Valley?