“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Andy Warhol
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“Good-bye, Death Valley” said a gold prospector in 1849 while leaving the 120-mile (193 km) long valley after two-month of “hunger, thirst and an awful silence“.
“Good-bye, Land of Avantgarde Beauty”, were my words after visiting Death Valley, the land of atypical beauty.
Seemingly a barren wasteland, but in reality a land of unique geology: the white salt formations, golden sand dunes, black lava layers and colorful minerals’ hills.
No wonder that 3.3 million acres (1.34 million hectares) of distinctive Death Valley’s scenery was a perfect filming location for masterpieces such as Twilight Zone, Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), Kill Bill (Vol. 2) and Zabriskie Point.
On the entrance to Death Valley, if coming from Las Vegas, moon-like landscapes of Zabriskie point welcome the visitors.
Rebellious gold, orange and brown shades of the borax, gypsum and calcite layers with black lava rocks make an unparalleled cosmic atmosphere.
The landscape of another planet was ideal place for Michelangelo Antonini to take scenes shots for his at that time controversial, but today a cult classic “Zabriskie Point”.
The psychedelic shapes inspired Rick Wright to compose “The Violent Sequence”, what meant to be the soundtrack for Antonini’s film, but later become Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” on the “Dark Side of the Moon” album.
Salt or cotton?
Going further to the valley, next stop is Badwater, a shallow lake and the heart of Death Valley.
Looking at the lake filled with salt, gypsum, calcite and borax, the visitors get impression of looking at white cotton nest well protected by surrounding mountains.
But when the lake is covered by water, the mountains across the valley mirror themselves in the water.
Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette
Oxidized metals or artist’s palette?
A few miles north of Badwater, in the middle of a roller-coaster narrow way with steep curving called Artist’s Drive, sun dramatically shines on hills of oxidized metals and consequently mixes ocher, brown, pink, purple, green and turquoise into a natural artist’s palette.
The photogenic pastel colored volcanic and sedimentary rocks are a true feast for the eyes and cameras.
If the visitors take a short trek to the top of the rocks, they get the feeling of walking into a painting.
Devil’s Golf Course
Sharp crystallized salt surface or devil’s playground?
This is a place where “only the devil could play golf“, according to the National Park Service guide book from 1934.
The sharp cutting crystallized surface, north from the Badwater area, is the reminiscent of the lake 2.000 years ago, made after the water went through the mud, minerals dissolved in the water and the lake evaporated.
The visitors should watch out their steps carefully not to get hurt on devil’s playground.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Walking out into the dunes formed by wind and sand, located at the northern end of the valley, and soaking up the desert scenery of the about three miles long by one mile wide area with mountains in the background, the visitors wonder if they were in Death Valley or Sahara.
Death Valley, the hottest place on Earth keeping the world air temperature record of 134 F (57 C).
Death Valley, the driest place in the U.S. where rain is rarely seen.
Death Valley, the lowest place in North America with the Badwater Basin standing 282 feet (86 m) below the sea level.