Death Valley: The Land of Avantgarde Beauty

“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.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point with colorful layers of mixed minerals

The Moon?

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.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

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.

Badwater Basin

Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette

Artist’s Palette. Can you spot a boy climbing the hill?

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.

Artist’s Drive

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.

Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley

Sahara?

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.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

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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.

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Death Valley

24 Comments

  1. Oh wow, what a beautiful experience and it seems you really liked it! The truth is that I have 5 different places on my bucket list for this year of travel; one of them is to rent a van with my wife to going around California, Arizona and Utah for 1 month; this post inspired my future trip…thanks for sharing it 😀

  2. What names!!! Badwater… Devil’s golf course…they make me curious and your experience makes me wanting to have the same. Amazing place! I would like to walk in to that painting!

  3. Such a diverse experience on a single trip! It should have felt like skipping from one dream to another. I love the way you have drawn analogies to each of the landscape you witnessed at the Death Valley 🙂

  4. Do you know that feeling when the knees start trembling of an excitement? This is what happened to me after looking through your pictures. I am such a fan of deserts. I really need to visit the Death valley.

  5. Looks like you had an amazing experience. I really enjoy your captivating photographs, especially the one with the driving car.

  6. Intriguing place indeed. There’s a place in India called Spiti that’s a little similar. All barren and gray on the outside but such a precious ecosystem if you scratch a little under the surface. The enormity of it all makes you feel like a tiny speck in the complexity of the universe, no?

  7. Ahh, beautiful captures and I love the creative wording about being a place only the devil could play golf. Some golf loving copywriter must have coined that term! How beautiful though! Out of all the times I’ve driven through Death Valley, I’ve never really appreciated it.

  8. Haha had heard Death Valley was known for funky names…saw the proof today! Though it seems very interesting…dont know if I want to visit this place, but your photos do make me want to make one short visit.

  9. OMG, your photos, so awesome! I love Death Valley, I dream of traveling there with a passion. I blame it most on the Queen of the Damned concert, and I can just picture the vampire Lestat rocking it out in that beautiful scenery 😀 Yup, total fangirl here…

  10. I have lived in California for a good part of my life and have only passed through and quite fast at that, I’ll definitely make an effort sometime in 2017 to actually go through and photograph the amazing landscape but not in summer of course.

  11. It still amazes me what our Earth is capable of producing. While not “beautiful” in a traditional sense, Death Valley looks to hold it’ own special beauty if you are willing to look for it.

  12. I’ve been wanting to make it to Death Valley for so long–it looks like such a gorgeous place! The variety of landscapes there is so crazy. I can’t believe how many different landscapes there are. The pastel colors along Artist’s Drive would be really cool to check out, and the sand dunes would be awesome, too!

  13. What an incredible, otherworldly landscape this is in Death Valley. I would imagine it’s quite dangerous too, if you’re not prepared. Gorgeous photographs!

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