Death Valley is 3.3 million acres and I had about 4 hours of daylight to see it. Hard, you say? Very. Impossible? Never. Not with my JEEP Wrangler rental, water, sunscreen and the indefatigable itch every traveler knows: the desire to see something new.
All day there, I remember feeling completely inspired even though I felt as small as an ant. The whole place felt like it was the beginning of the world. If not the world, at least North America.
We started at Zabriskie Point, which was an amazing place to get acquainted with Death Valley. It offered stunning, broad views and was very surreal in the curvature of the hills and landscape.
Next, we hit Badwater Basin, which was austere in its flat, wide, salty whiteness. I was not able to get as far out as I wanted to, so I was left a little underwhelmed, but I still consider it a must see. On the return walk be sure to look out for the sea level sign marker on the opposing cliff. It makes you realize the depths of our waters when you are 282 feet below sea level- the lowest point in the continent!
The next adventure was a swerve-y drive through Artists Drive. The name comes from the colors of the minerals and stones in the valleys there. Our timing couldn’t have been better: sunset. The rangers recommended this because the sun’s glare at that time reflects beautifully off the colors. It was an earthen masterpiece, something out of the movies. We made sure to stop and take a mediation break to let it all sink in. I don’t think there is a bottle large enough to capture all the feeling this place gave me.
And finally, the culmination of it all was Dante’s View. The peak is 5,000 feet above Death Valley and takes your breath away. It has views of the Black and Panamint Mountain ranges. It is so high that your ears pop on the way up. You never think you are going to get there, and then, at a certain point, as in life, you let go of the questions like, when and how, and surrender to the twists and turns.
Final takeaway: each of these stops deserve 1-2 days each, at the minimum. Get yourself a week off work and go live at Death Valley. Trust me.