Visiting Death Valley National Park is never boring. You discover something new every time you go there. It’s also a great destination to carry your camera gear. However, if you go with your family and kids, as I did two weeks ago, do not expect to spend too much time on photography.
Day 1 was cold and windy (ironically, Death Valley National Park is the hottest place in North America). Kids had great fun in the sand dunes. We spent about half a day in the dunes. Kids were reluctant to get out of the dunes. They had left behind their sandals on the sand while playing. By the time we returned, one pair was buried somewhere deep in the sand not to be found. Hard lessons learned!
Death Valley is a vast place. We spent a lot of time just driving to the vista points. For example, it is about 30 miles from the sand dunes to the next main vista point, Devil’s Golf Course. Our next hops were Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, and Bad Water Basin. Because of the tall mountains all around, the sun set very early - around 4:30. It got dark by 4:45.
One good thing about early sunset was, it gave us more time to see the stars in the clear sky. It is impossible to see so many stars from anywhere near a city. I excused myself from my family to perform some night shot experiments. Night shots require long exposure. Unfortunately family members of photography enthusiasts do not have the same level of patience as the latter do.
Day 2: We started our day with a trek on the Mosaic Canyon. Mosaic Canyon gets a lot of visitors. Yet, the 2 mile road from the main road to the entrance of the canyon is a gravel road. I wonder if there is a reason why they have left it so. The walk inside the canyon was nice. I carried my little one on my backpack carrier. The canyon got narrow and slippery at places. It wasn’t extremely hard, but I had to be a little more careful at such points.
We had missed the Artist’s Palette the previous day because of the early sunset. I haven’t seen any hill or mountain as colorful as this one. Artist’s Palette pictures look great. However, it is impossible to capture the real look and elegance of the place.
Zabriskie’s point was closed due to road construction. That was a disappointment. We drove to Dante’s Point by 4 PM - just around the time for sunset. The view of the valley from the top was awesome. It was a punishment to get out of the car. The temperature was below freezing. Wind chill contributed more to the misery. I started shivering as soon as I stepped out of the car. I held my camera to shoot a picture. I could barely feel my fingers and could not press the shutter button however hard I tried. I decided to hell with the picture and rushed back to the car immediately.
Panamint Mountains on the west rim of the national park
Sand dunes in the foreground, Black Mountain in the background
Panoramic view of the sand dunes
Kids having a blast
A windy day at the sand dunes
Sand dust provide a hazy view of the mountains
Devil's Golf Course
Son at Bad Water Basin
Light Painting experiment - applied the lessons learned from here
Son at Mosaic Canyon