I am, by nature, a very outgoing individual. I enjoy the company of others and like to be social. So, perhaps it will surprise you that I also am strongly drawn to the remote, unpopulated regions of our world. I dream of crossing the mountainous desolation of central Asia by riding my bike along the old Silk Road, or visiting the deep desert heart of central Australia. I have pushed myself across the San Rafael Swell of Utah, and ridden along the U.S./Mexico Border where the Sky Islands dominate the Sonoran landscape. However, the place that draws me back, time and time again, is Death Valley National Park. At half the size of Belgium, it is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. With few paved roads and a hostile reputation, there are regions of this park that see visitors as often as they see rain.

This Christmas, the stars aligned. The Travel Architect and I booked an unforgettable holiday stay at the Inn at Death Valley. We couldn’t explore the entire park, and in actuality only spent our time in the Death Valley portion of the park (the park consists of Death Valley, Panamint Valley, Saline Valley and Eureka Valley). We took our hiking boots, water bottles, hats, sunblock, and I took my camera…

…here is what I saw:

(Click on any of the images and cycle through)

The most visited location in the park is Badwater Basin. Sitting 279 ft below sea level, it is the lowest point on land in North America. Walk a few miles beyond the frequented tourist trail and you will find yourself in the middle of the Badwater Basin salt flat, a lifeless terrain whose beauty is stark and barren.

Erosion and frequent high winds mean that areas of the park build magnificent dune fields. Mesquite Dunes are one example.

The Black Mountains contain numerous canyons often explored by prospectors of old, a common theme in the park. Hiking into these reveals dry waterfalls, colourful minerals, and contrasting geological forces.

Because Death Valley is the low point, it is the destination for all snowmelt, runoff, and storm water. With that water comes springs, oases; and with that, life.

From mining camps to ghost towns, the complete history of Death Valley can never be told without considering the waves of human exploration, exploitation, settlement and collapse. Even though this incredible area has held a special designation since 1938, it only became a national park in 1998. It has seen pioneers from the earliest gold rush, farms and ranching, railway construction, booms and busts. Now a truly epic location for tourism, Death Valley National Park may never have produced the gems that were sought, but has itself become a sought-after gem.

66 thoughts

  1. Fabulous photos! Especially the sun over the basin… tortured earth for sure. The oasis of green surprised me and the stone arches are amazing. We meant to visit when we were in Sedona a few years ago but I got altitude sickness and had to waste a few days in bed instead…. So thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll thank you for him. He put his landscape photos in a separate file and won’t let me touch them. However – lucky me -I have been granted access to the ones with humans in them, so you may see some more of his (and some of mine) when I put out my own Death Valley post in a few weeks. (You didn’t think I’d let him be the last word on our trip, did you? 😉 )
      Darn that altitude sickness. (I remember those posts of yours. They contributed to my desire to go there.) Hopefully the view from your sickbed was of gorgeous red rocks.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, just wow! Thank you for revealing the beautiful secrets and lonely wildness of Death Valley. I’ve never thought of vacationing there before but now I think I must go when the opportunity avails

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Death Valley looks so cool! It’s definitely moved up on my list since I started hearing you guys mention it on the pod. I also really love the desert and being in the middle of nowhere (though as an introvert that maybe makes more sense) and I just have a feeling I’ll love Death Valley when I finally visit. Awesome photos, and I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

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  4. Despite living in southern California all of my life, never have I once visited Death Valley. I have seen a lot of my peers visit there, though (especially during the pandemic), and its wide, isolated and barren charm entices me to go someday (although I’ll avoid going in the summer…). Looks like you had a blast!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say I’m shocked, but I’ve never been to Voyageurs NP, so who am I to talk? Also, you have so many other things (and other national parks) to see out there. You’re spoiled for choice. I hope you get there someday, though. Actually, a lot of the visitors over Christmas seemed to be Californians.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Somehow ‘dry waterfall’ didn’t sound very pretty, but you proved me wrong. The saltflats have similar hexagonal shapes to the ones in Bolivia, but look to have larger ridges in Death Valley, wonder what the difference is. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, what a fascinating place to explore. I have to say that your photos are truly wonderful and you managed to capture such otherworldly vistas that the park is known for. I love the mud cracks, especially if they have beautiful mountains in the backdrop. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Tara does. And I know she’s been there once with her ex, but it was a bad experience. (Probably because it was with her ex!) We’ve talked about going out there someday. I’m sure it will happen eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I lived in Arizona near death valley. It was never my favorite place. For some reason I’m more drawn to green mountains, rolling hills, and lush landscapes. It didn’t help that when I lived in that area I was pregnant in the summer when temperatures got up to 120 degrees. Not my cup of tea. I’d lay on our mattress in my panties with four fans on me because the air conditioning couldn’t keep up. The pictures are lovely, but I never want to go back. I live in the north Georgia mountains now and it’s beautifully remote, still warm but tolerable and honestly magnificent. Death valley is pretty but there’s something special about going somewhere fifty times and finding something you missed because it was tucked away among the pines. ☺️🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you. I always wonder what makes people visit Minnesota (they usually come in summer) and then I travel to Arizona (which I love to visit – it’s so stark and beautiful) or anywhere in the Southwest really, and realize that if someone grew up there, a trip to a place like MN, with deep woods and green grass and farmland and lakes and rivers, would be inviting. I’m glad you found a place to live that suits you. Thanks for reading and commenting.


      1. I didn’t grow up in Arizona, I actually grew up in Chicago. That being said I lived in Arizona long enough to know it’s just not for me ☺️. Love your blog!! Excited to keep in touch

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing photos! Can’t say I have ever really thought much about visiting there, but now I just may have to. I completely relate with visiting the remotest places on Earth. Hell, we just got back from Antarctica… doesn’t get more remote than that. Also, you’re very brave to let the husband take over the blog. I cringe at what mine might write if I let him!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, did the husband take these pics? So great that you both have the same skillset and interests. At first glance, your posts seem similar, but upon further reading, you have a vibrant voice with a glaze of humour compared to your husband, who’s more direct and succinct.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such an incredible place. My family has no excuse not to get there. We’ve talked about it, but haven’t made it happen yet. Some day.

    Is it weird that the cracked ground made me think of brownies?? Mmmmm…. brownies… 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow. Fellow social person here who loves remote areas. Death Valley fascinates me. Being far enough away from human beings to forget their existence – partially – cleanses my mind of the fears we humans tend to spread, egoically, in cities and suburbs.


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Breathtakingly beautiful shots. This would not be my first choice for a national park visit, but your blog introduced me to Death Valley’s sometimes desolate allure. Having been to both China and Australia, I can tell you that both countries are well worth exploring. Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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