Artist Drive in Death Valley National Park, California

My apologies! Being a full-time student is keeping me on my toes and too busy to be traipsing around looking for photo ops. That said, I set out yesterday morning in search of an adventure.

Artist Drive, Death Valley National ParkI grew up in southern California. I also grew up in a family that values National Parks. In California, I have been to Joshua Tree NP, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, Yosemite NP, and Redwood NP. And there are two right here in the southland that I’d never visited: Channel Islands NP and Death Valley NP. I decided upon moving back to SoCal I would rectify that. (Elsewhere in California, I have yet to visit Lassen Volcanic NP and Pinnacles NP. And I need to revisit Redwood NP and shoot it again.)

So yesterday morning, I took off for Death Valley NP. The lowest point in North America resides there, 282 feet below sea level. From where I live, you drive almost all the way to Las Vegas and then hang a sharp left. Then you drive through absolutely nothing for about an hour and a half.

All of my life I’ve heard about Death Valley, but it’s usually something to do with excrutiatingly warm temperatures (like July of last year when it was 134° F (56.6° C)). Aye-yi-yi. It was 72° F yesterday. Much better.

Artist Drive, Death Valley National ParkI arrived at the park around 2:00 p.m. so I was unable to tour Scotty’s Castle as it closed at 3:00 p.m. and I was on the southern end of the park, approximately an hour south of the castle. I guess I’ll have to go back. Oh, darn. <wink> But I was able to visit Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America) and see the salt flats and Badwater Pool as well as drive through Artist Drive where an array of colors are seen–unfortunately, it was overcast and this was difficult to photograph. I was at the tail of Artist Drive as the sun set. Shooting sunset in Death Valley is difficult because you’re below sea level throughout the valley and surrounded by peaks, one of which reaches 11,064 feet (Telescope Peak). I’d like the opportunity to shoot sunrise as the peaks on the west side of the valley would be beautifully lit. I’d also like to shoot sunset again. Maybe twice. Once from Artist Drive again and once from Zabriskie Point. I’m thinking sometime in the spring might be prime, but I’d like to shoot Artist Drive after a drizzle. My bet is that it responds similarly to Badlands National Park. How I’m going to arrange a drizzle is something I haven’t figured out yet.

The photo above is part of Artist Drive. As I drove out, I chanced a glance over my shoulder and spotted this. As you can see, the sun is setting to my back. Fortunately–or unfortunately–you can see just how overcast it was yesterday. Meh. As I rounded the bend, I had a slightly better view of the illuminated peaks that were bathed in a beautiful warm, golden light. Thus the second photo. I was struck by just how red the lower rock appeared against the bright orange upper ridges. I wish it could’ve been shot a bit less bull’s-eyesie and a little more law-of-thirdsish. But there was an ugly street with cars below and no interesting sky above. Meh. Again.

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