The Racetrack Playa

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

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 Playa

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

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.

Zabriskie Point

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

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.

The Heart of Death Valley

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

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.

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

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.