Death valley is like nowhere else on earth. Its beauty is ethereal and stark.
Think about all those images of the surface of the moon that you may have seen over the years and imagine this formation stretching to the horizon. Turning 360° the unrelenting moonscape-like surface is scarily big.
Stretching 1,365,030 ha, and bordering between Nevada and California, Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in contiguous USA.
It contains the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level and it often referred to as one of the the hottest locations on earth (definitely in the US) due mainly to scarce surface water and low relief.
I was drawn to explore this amazing vastness and only had 2 days to do it.
So with my trusty rental and water/food provisions gathered along the way I ventured from Las Vegas, Nevada via Route 160 to Pahrump where a left on Nevada Route 132 lead to Furnace Creek through Death Valley Junction.
It’s a two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas by car and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for back-country travel. I entered the park about mid-length, close to Furnace Creek Visitors center and turned north on day one. This story I will tell at another time.
However on Day 2 I headed south to drive the Artist’s Drive and find the famous “Artist’s Palette”.
Artist’s Palette is on the face of the Black Mountains and is noted for having various colors of rock.
These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple).
It took my breath away with its glorious colors. Driving through this spectacular scenery it looked much like someone had taken buckets of highly colored paints and up ended the buckets in a wonderful disarray of competing color.