Thursday, February 4, 2016

Death Valley National Park

Pass between Pahrump, Nevada and Death Valley
To appreciate the desert, one must slow down. Traveling in a car at 55+ miles per hour does not allow one to see the intricate beauty or understand how each rock, plant and lizard relate to one another. So it is in Death Valley that many of my preconceived ideas of what one of the hottest and most barren deserts on earth would be like has been shattered. Yes, there is rock, lots of rock. So much rock that you are forced to think about it, how it formed, how old it is, how hard or soft it is and how it came to be shaped the way it is.

It happened that we arrived at the Texas Springs campground in Furnace Creek within minutes of our friends Jack and Liz. The campground sits on a hillside overlooking Furnace Creek. We chose it for the view, because it is close to Furnace Creek which has a gas station, general store and two restaurants. Also, Texas Springs is quiet owing to generators being prohibited.
Our campground
Looking west across Death Valley from Furnace Creek
Hiking in Death Valley is mostly ascending from the valley floor up into any of the hundreds of canyons that drain water into this lowest place in North America. Some of the canyons end with impassable steep walls while others offer a climb up to the many ridges that ring the canyons. Each canyon has its own character because of the different types and ages of rock exposed by the torrents of water that have eroded the soft stone for millions of years.
Liz and Jack, our hiking buddies approaching Zabrisky point
Sunrise and sunset accentuate the multi-colored rocks that enclose the valley and form the deep canyons.
Artist's Palette at Sunset
Silliness at Artist's Palette
As forecast, the weather was cooler than normal with daytime high temperatures ranging from the low to mid 50s to the mid 60s for most of the time we were there. But, that was just right for the hiking we did on the many trails that took us into deep canyons or to the top of grand ridges overlooking the valley and giving us marvelous vistas of the distant snow capped mountains. Due to el Nino, we were treated to an uncommon event, a soaking rain that produced nearly one half inch over much of the valley that brought forth a profusion of flowers. The park rangers told us that such a bloom happens only about every thirty years.
The cold front is approaching

Rain is coming
After the rain

The rain has come through, the flowers are blooming
Clearing skies

Cactus in Fall Canyon

A permanent waterfall. There's water in Death Valley, you just have to know where to find it.
A 20 mule team wagon. Carried Borax from Death Valley to the rail terminal.

Surrounded by snow covered mountains

We have another day left in Death Valley so stay tuned (it may be a while though, internet can be sketchy in the desert).


  1. How fortunate to be there for the bloom! Wish we were there. Al & Patty

  2. Thank you for sharing. Death Valley is truly spectacular and you have captured it well.

  3. Hi Dr. Wayne, it was enjoyable to see your blog site. I hope you had a great time at Piney and as the new manager and suggestions to making use even greater would be appreciated.

    Thanks again and see you in Tennessee again,



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