Made famous by Antonioni's film with the same name (1970)
Zabriskie Point offers some beautiful views of the Golden Canyon badlands.
The yellow and beige colored hills were once lake bottom sediments. The
point is named after Christian Zabriskie, an important figure in Death
Valley borax mining.
This is a one-way nine miles scenic drive through hills
splashed with colors from mineral deposits. There are reds, yelows and
pinks from the iron salts, green from decomposing mica, and purples from
manganese. About halfway through the drive is Artist's Palette a
remarkable spot which is worth a stop.
Stovepipe Wells Sand Dunes
Located very close to Stovepipe Wells are the
undulating sand dunes. They are being continually recreated by the winds
which carry sand from the mountains and then deposit it here. The dunes can
be explored by foot (park on the side of the road). There is no trail,
but that is part of the fun, you can create your own trail.
Devil's Golf Course
A field of salt pinnacles today, this used to be a
lake more than 2000 years ago. When the lake evaporated, it left behind
the layers of crystallized salt. This is constantly recreated as salty
water is brough to the surface through capilary actions and then it
evaporates resulting in new salt crystals. You can hear the noises made
by the salt as it expands and contracts with the changes in temperature.
The Ubehebe Crater is situated in the north of the
Valley and it's quite a drive to get there. But if you plan to see
Scotty's Castle then Ubehebe is only 8 miles away from the castle. The
crater was formed by a massive vulcanic steam explosion a few thousand
years ago. There is a trail to the bottom of the cone.
Badwater is the lowest point in the western hemisphere,
282 ft (85m) below sea level. This place is also very very hot. There's
a small pool of water which surprisingly hosts life (if we were to believe
the signs that mark the spot). Turn around and look up the rocky wall to
find the sign that marks the sea level.
Dante's View is situated at 5475 ft (1650m) on a peak of
the Armagosa Range. It offers a spectacular view of the Valley below
surrounded by ranges of mountains. This is where you experience the "big
picture" of Death Valley. Pools of Badwater lie below; across the valley
is the Panamint Range, with its highest point Telescope Peak.
Frankly this is the only thing in Death Valley that I
didn't care about. In my opinion it's just a house albeit a fancy one in the
middle of the desert. They were charging $10 to visit the interior and we
decided it's not worth it. There was a long line of people willing to pay
the $10 so in fact it was $10 plus waiting. We visited the grounds instead.
The story about the castle goes like this: Scotty was a guy who pretended to
have found a gold mine and be filthy rich; in reality he had no money but he
persuaded his friend Albert Johnson, a Chicago millionaire who was searching
for a quiet retreat, to build this house. The building started in the 20's
but was never finished.
Twenty Mule Team Canyon
Close to Zabriskie Point, on the way to Dante's View is
the Twenty Mule Team Canyon. A one-way unpaved 2.9 miles road runs through
the canyon, allowing one to enjoy the undulating muddy hills visible from
Zabriskie Point. These hills where once high in borax which was mined in the
Natural Bridge is on a short hike (about half a mile)
from the parking lot, 2 miles north of Badwater and about 13 miles south of
Furnace Creek. You can continue the hike through the narrow canyon for
another half mile until you reach the end of if. As with any other hike in
Death Valley, bring water, bring water, bring water along.
Harmony Borax Mines
These are the remains of a borax-processing plant and a
20-mule-team borax wagon. Laborares used to mine the borax off the ground
and then carry it to the plant for processing. The wagon was used to carry
the borax concentrate to the Mojave railroad station during a three week
round trip. The plant was only used for a few years at the end of the 19th
Devil's Cornfield is located close to the Stovepipe Wells'
Sand Dunes area along Route 190. It's a field covered with isolated clumps
of the arrowweed plant separated by stretches of empty sand. They resemble
shocks of corn in a harvest field, hence the name of the place. The saline
soil of the Death Valley floor creates a harsh environment, but even here
you can find plants or rather salt loving plants like the arrowweed which
thrive in this place.
The one-way dirt road that goes through Titus Canyon
starts at Hwy. 374 in the Nevada desert. The road is 28 miles long and is
suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles or vehicles with high clearance.
Do follow this indication, the road is in really bad shape and you can
damage your car (not talking about getting stuck there and blocking everyone
that comes behind you). It's one of the most spectacular drives in the park,
with gorgeous narrows, twisted rock formations, indian petroglyphs and an
interesting geology. Near the beginning of Titus Canyon lies the ghost town
of Leadfield which experienced a short mining boom of about 6 months in 1925.
The saltwater pupfish of Death Valley
Salk Creek Death Valley is the only place in the world
where the Salk Creek Pupfish live. Some 20.000 years ago when Death Valley
was a big fresh water lake there were probably many species of fish that
lived here but today only the pupfish remain. The pupfish managed to adapt
to the harsh environment related to life in the desert. For example the
pupfish is well adapted to high salinity, they can survive in water 2 to 3
times saltier than sea water. You can see the pupfish by walking the 1/2
miles boardwalk which passes through the salk creek. The creek almost dries
up in the summer and only a few pools of water remain. Only those fish in
deeper pools survive. There were quite a few pupfish visible when we visited,
in mid February.