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 Death Valley National Park

California

All Photographs Brian & Nancy Morganti


Death Valley

Badwater Road - Jubilee Pass to Stovepipe Wells

March 2010

March 9, 2010

We arose early from our night's stay in Shoshone anxious to get started on our first full day in Death Valley.  It was cold and raining as we left our motel, but the skies began to clear as we ascended westward along highway 178.  The higher terrain from Salsberry Pass to Jubilee Pass had a fresh covering of snow which added a nice contrast to the rugged terrain.  West of Jubilee Pass we took in the sweeping vistas of Death Valley as we descended quickly in elevation from around 1200' to near sea-level.  We then cut north on Badwater Road where we would be spending a good part of the day.  At this juncture Shore Line Butte could be seen just to our west.  Of interest here were the lines cut horizontally into the side of a volcanic butte revealing the various shore-line levels during several periods of glacial melting that at times filled the lake to a depth of 600'.  The salt flats that are "Death Valley" are all that remains of this once pristine glacial lake, but even today Lake Manly returns when the rains come, even if only to a depth of a few inches. 

Our next stop was at the ruins of Ashford Mill, which once housed 50 men and a 40-ton roller used to process the high-grade ore from a nearby gold mine circa 1910.  Next up was Cinder Hill, a red volcanic cinder cone that upon closer inspection is actually "two cones".  It was split in two as a fault-line directly beneath the cone gradually shifted along a north-south line.  We then re-visited the Mormon Point area which had a whole new look in the morning light from that of the evening before.  By noontime we were walking on the salt-flats of Badwater, which at its lowest point is -282 below sea-level, the lowest elevation in North America as well as one of the hottest places on the planet.  However, the temperature on this day was a very comfortable 71F. 

 Next up were the amazing colors along Artists Drive and Artists Palette that are produced by colorful volcanic and sedimentary rocks.  Unfortunately, the midday lighting was a little flat to fully appreciate these colors. After exiting Artist Drive we found an interesting rock formation known as Mushroom Rock...a must-see before it erodes away!  After stopping by the Visitor Center we proceeded to the Harmony Borax Works for a look back into the history when Borax was king long before the arrival of tourism.  As the sun got lower on the horizon, we drove south along Furnace Creek Wash before making the climb to Dante's View, 5475' in elevation.  From here you have a superb view that gives you the immensity of Death Valley! 

Our last stop of the day before heading into Stovepipe Wells for the night was at what is known as the "Devil's Cornfield", a bizarre "cornfield" in a saline marsh with hundreds of clumps of Arrowweed, whose straight stems were sometimes used by Indians for arrow shafts.  

 


Death Valley - Jubilee Pass - Frosty Morning

 


Death Valley - Jubilee Pass - Frosty Morning

 


Death Valley - Jubilee Pass - Frosty Morning

 


Death Valley - Jubilee Pass - Frosty Morning

 


Death Valley - Jubilee Pass 

 


Death Valley - Jubilee Pass 

 


Death Valley - Shoreline Butte

 


Death Valley - Ashford Mill Ruins

 


Death Valley - Ashford Mill Ruins

 


Death Valley - Ashford Mill Ruins

 


Death Valley - Ashford Mill Ruins

 


Death Valley - Ashford Mill Ruins

 


Death Valley - Cinder Hill

 


Death Valley - Cinder Hill

 


Death Valley - Mormon Point

 


Death Valley - Mormon Point

 


Death Valley - Mormon Point

 


Death Valley - Mormon Point

 


Death Valley - Badwater

 


Death Valley - Badwater

 


Death Valley - Badwater

 


Death Valley - Badwater

 


Death Valley - Badwater

 


Death Valley - Badwater

 


Death Valley - Artist Drive

 


Death Valley - Artist Drive

 


Death Valley - Artist Drive

 


Death Valley - Artist Drive

 


Death Valley - Artist Drive

 


Death Valley - Mushroom Rock!

 


Death Valley - Harmony Borax

 


Death Valley - Harmony Borax

 


Death Valley - Dante's View North


Death Valley - Dante's View South

 


Death Valley - Dante's View West

 


Death Valley - Stovepipe Wells

 


Death Valley - Stovepipe Wells

 


Death Valley - Stovepipe Wells - Devil's Cornfield

 


Death Valley - Stovepipe Wells - Devil's Cornfield

 

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