Death Valley Photography

One of the great joys of any road trip is the escapism of venturing out into a wilderness, allowing yourself to be taken by the enormity of a vast landscape, unconstrained by time or by other people stepping on your toes. Travelling through Death Valley was such an experience; so much so that it is one of those American desert landscapes that I have promised myself I will experience again.

California Desert Highway

Death Valley extends along a large length of the eastern Californian state line, extending as far north as the Yosemite region. We travelled to Death Valley on a day trip from Las Vegas, reaching the basin within a two-hour drive. Our first stop was a small hamlet called Shoshone, at the southern reaches of the basin. We had lunch in a quaint hamburger joint with an interesting Colt 45 artwork decorated wall. If I had any doubts about where I was, they were long extinguished by this point. Not just because of the symbolism representing the wild west, but also because this little hole in the wall represented the last chance to avoid Badwater Road. As anyone that as travelled the region knows, venturing onto Badwater Road is not something one does on a whim.

Most good advice suggests that you don’t venture into the basin in anything but a well serviced car; and that you carry as much water as you can. If not to quench your thirst, but also to replenish that needed by your car’s engine. To mitigate the risk of your engine blowing up, its also advised not to use your air conditioning. Even though it was October, this seemed like solid advice.

Zabriskie Landscape

Infact, there is no location more vulnerable to these conditions than Badwater Basin; which sits 268 ft below sea level, and the heat, humidity, and oxygen levels is a killer. After a quarter mile venture onto the salt flats, this became abundantly clear. Not only is it physically exhausting, but it takes a mental toll also. It was a magnificent sight to take in, but one that left me joyous at the thought of getting back to the parking lot.

Badwater Road extends into the Death Valley basin, and we journeyed up as far as Furnace Creek. The views along this road are genuinely stunning; everything you’ve ever imagined of a desert highway. The bright yellow lines, the undulating surface, the distant mountains morphing gently into the vast salt flats, the heat haze and distant RVs ploughing a lone furrow; it is an iconic image that we all can muster in our imaginations, and one that is in no short supply here.

Badwater Road

Before returning to Vegas for the night, our last stop was at Zabriskie Point. I can tell you categorically, that the sunset is truly the best time to be here. The landscape is one of seemingly unnatural undulating and rippling rock formations; one which you cannot imagine belongs on this earth. When combined with the soft glow of the sunset, it is no wonder that we found ourselves competing for spots to photograph this magnificent landscape.


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