I had to post one more Racetrack Playa shot. When I saw this I had to chuckle. These rocks may have been racing each other for thousands of years and it’s still very close. We mortals will never know who wins but it does look as if one participant dropped out. There was no sign of it anywhere.
The Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of most interesting places I’ve ever seen. These rocks have moved over thousands of years and how they do it is a mystery. Some speculate that when it rains, which is not very often, the clay gets slippery and strong winds move the rocks which weigh up to a couple hundred pounds. To get there is an adventure as well. Thirty miles on a single lane “road” of volcanic rock.
The Grandstand is located in the northwest corner of Racetrack Playa and is approximately 66 feet (20 meters) above the surface. The playa is reached by driving on a single lane dirt and rocky road for 30 miles. It is one of the roughest roads I’ve ever experienced.
Ubehebe Crater is located at the north tip of the Cottonwood Mountains. The crater is half a mile (one kilometer) wide and 500 to 777 feet (150 to 237 m) deep. The age of the crater is estimated from 2,000 to 7,000 years old.”Ubehebe” (pronounced YOU-bee-HEE-bee) is a Timbisha Native American word meaning “Big basket in the rock.”
Zabriskie Point is four miles East of Furnace Creek Lodge on Highway 190. There is a parking lot and the hike is up hill but only 1/4 of a mile. These badlands are developed on a mud-stone foundation. Fine-grained sediments of silt and clay were deposited in one of Death Valley’s prehistoric lakes, then were buried by still more sediment, and finally compressed and weakly cemented to form the soft rock called mud stone.
Death Valley has miles of dry lake beds, river bottoms, salt flats, and rock formations. A dry river bed exists very near the Mesquite Sand Dunes which I posted about yesterday. I wasn’t thinking about photographing a dry river but while hiking across it I thought the patterns were very interesting especially this one.
Death Valley’s Mesquite Sand Dunes is 2 miles south of Stovepipe Wells Village. There is a parking lot but you have to hike 2 miles or more to get out to the largest dunes. I found that if you park 1/4 of a mile north of the lot and off the side of the road you can hike to dunes that the tourists don’t get to. The importance of that, for a photograph, is there are no foot prints to spoil the pristine nature of dunes. I took photos at sunset and sunrise and this one was at sunset.
I returned last night from three days in the US’s largest National Park not in Alaska. Death Valley’s 5269 square miles has to be seen in order to understand and appreciate how large, stark, and beautiful it is. I’m going to post a photo a day for the rest of this week to, in a small way, show you what I saw. Some are grand and some simple like this one.
There are a series of dunes named Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes that hundreds of people a day visit so by nightfall their foot prints are everywhere. The good news is the wind often blows hard at night and erases them. If you hike out a couple of miles at first light you can see where small animals have traveled. You can also capture those dramatic scene too. Those are for later.