Death Valley National Park

Our itinerary for this year’s Memorial Day vacation took us through Death Valley National Park. Due to the intense heat and the summer season, there very few visitors which made the park’s stark beauty all the more enjoyable.

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We started off from Las Vegas, so entered the park from its north-eastern entrance. Our drive through it took us first to Dante’s View Point. The drive up to this point is steep and has several sharp hairpin bends. It is deceptive too, in the sense that the road leading to it doesn’t give any clues to the vista in store from the view point. To call the view from here awesome would be an understatement.

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Next, we drove over to Zabriskie Point. The view from here is typically a photographers dream around sunset when the setting sun lights it up in orange and pinkish hues. When we got here it was noon, nevertheless it is a beautiful view.

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After a long drive along the base of Black Mountains (atop which Dante’s viewpoint is) and a shorter offroad drive, we got to the Devil’s Golfcourse – a lumpy salt pan. Jagged sharp edges outline each lump of ‘rock’ here – these rocks are actually crystallized salt.

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We then drove through the curvy roads of Artist’s Drive. This is a scenic byroad that drives into the foothills of the Black Mountains – again, the beauty here lies in the starkness of the environs and the colorful palette with which these mountains are painted.

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After taking short break at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, we drove on to the Mesquite Sand-dunes. From afar these dunes appear quite small, but as you near them the scale becomes apparent.

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During this vacation, Death Valley was almost a side-trip, an excursion during a long drive. But it’s scale (it is the largest national park outside of Alaska in the U.S) and beauty definitely warrant a longer visit. The bare minimum I saw was enough to catapult this national park into my list of favorites. Another time, Death Valley National Park…hopefully sooner than later.

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