The High and Low of Death Valley with Zeb, Soapy Smith and JB Duck

The largest national park south of Alaska reveals more secrets to the Colorado Traveling Ducks.  Driving to Dantes View, we gain elevation.   This, the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park, is 5,475 feet above the floor of Death Valley.   Looking to the floor of Death Valley from Dantes View, the green vegetation is a contrast to the dry earth.

From Dantes View

From Dantes View

The white ground below is a reminder that all minerals that are thrown in the valley, from volcanic activity, earthquakes or rain, will forever remain in Death Valley.   This land, below sea level, has no outlet to the sea, so everything stays here and is further altered by the forces of nature.

From Dantes View

From Dantes View

Not only is the floor of Death Valley covered with minerals, but the mountain walls of the valley exhibit colors and patterns from thousands of years of change.

From Dantes View

From Dantes View

Mom is experimenting with the panorama function on her camera.

Floor of Death Valley from Dantes View

Floor of Death Valley from Dantes View

We like the effect.   From the high point, let’s go to the floor of Death Valley.   We drive to Badwater Basin.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

This is not only the lowest point in North America, but it is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.   There are not many places in the world where you can stand on dry land, below sea level.    Let’s go on the salt flats.

On the salt flats

On the salt flats

We are careful to only walk where it is allowed.   This environment is fragile and we do not want to destroy any of it.   We are happy to discover our national parks.   Did you know that the National Park Service is 100 years old in 2016?   Now we turn our backs to the salt flats and look at the rock wall.

Standing 282 feet below sea level

Standing 282 feet below sea level

If you look closely you will see a white rectangular sign marking sea level.   The sign is about half way up the wall and 2/3 to the right of this photo.   The information signs say that Death Valley Basin is still dropping.   Today we are 282 feet below sea level.   Hundreds of years from now, these salt flats probably will be further below sea level.     We only spent a couple days in Death Valley National Park, but you could spend a day, a week, or months here and never see everything.   The park is huge and the land is constantly changing.   The rain and flooding from September gave us the wildflowers this spring.   In the park, you can receive wildflower updates.   You may want to view the best flower display.   We loved all the flowers, but our photos are not the best.   You may want to use google to see more pictures.   But we were happy with these flowers.

A few wildflowers by the road

A few wildflowers by the road

We hope you enjoy some national parks this year.

Death Valley National Park to Tecopa, California with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Driving through Death Valley National Park, we spotted the road in 20 Mule Team Canyon.

We want to drive in the canyon

We want to drive in the canyon

Let’s go.   On a dirt road we followed the dried river bed.

Dried river bed in canyon

Dried river bed in canyon

And, yes this is the road.

Dirt road

Dirt road

Let’s hope there is no sudden rain and flash flooding.   There was none.   Just beautiful sunny skies.   Even the mountains look dry.

Even rocks look dry

Even rocks look dry

Remember, Death Valley usually only receives 2 inches of moisture annually.   And the summers are extremely hot.   This was a short 3 mile loop, but we loved it.   The desert mountain landscape fascinates us.   In this area of the park, these are typical rock formations.

Typically Death Vally scenery in this part of park

Typically Death Vally scenery in this part of park

Next turn off for us is Zabriskie Point which overlooks what is referred to as the Badlands.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

Within the lake bed are rich layers of Colemanite and Uluxite, minerals often referred to as Borax.   Strip mining was used until a 1976 law close the park to prospecting and gave the National Park Service more control over mining activity.   There is still some private mines in operation in the park, but no strip mining.   Pacific Coast Borax Company was a major mining company, but by the 1920s their mining activity had slowed.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

The company turned to tourism by opening the elegant Furnace Creek Inn in 1927, with great success.    Christian B. Zabriskie was vice president and general manager of Pacific Coast Borax Company during the transition from mining to tourism.   This lookout, Zabriskie Point, is named for him.   Aren’t park information signs great?   Much of this landscape was formed by water and earthquakes.   However the black layer here is lava that oozed out onto the ancient lake bed.

Black lava on tops of mountains

Black lava on tops of mountains

Hot water followed the lava, bringing minerals such as borax, gypsum and calcite with it.   Isn’t geology fascinating?   We left the park for the evening, but we will return in the morning.   Driving into Death Valley Junction, we saw the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel.   This is now an historic building and cultural center.

Amargosa Opera House

Amargosa Opera House

Marta Becket was  professional dancer who danced at Radio City Music Hall and performed on Broadway in New York City.   A flat tire on a camping trip led her to Death Valley Junction where she fell in love with the theater.   She renovated it and renamed it Amargosa Opera House.   She remains in Death Valley Junction, performing until she officially retired in 2012.   She still lives there, and live performances are still performed at the Opera House.

Performances scheduled this year

Performances scheduled this year

We thought the doors to the Amargosa Opera House were wonderful.

Beautiful doors to Opera House

Beautiful doors to Opera House

We spent the night at Tecopa, California.   There are many hot springs in the area and we enjoyed soaking in the hot water.    The ground is white from minerals.

Minerals in Tecopa, CA

Minerals in Tecopa, CA

There is a variety of minerals, but salt is in there also.    Yes, mom tasted it.   We liked this wagon in Tecopa.

Wagon in Tecopa

Wagon in Tecopa

The evening sky was so clear, we saw thousands of brilliant stars.   We are enjoying our time in the desert.

Wildflowers in Death Valley 2016

We are entering California.

Hello California

Hello California

Where are the beaches?   Mom says we are not going to the beach.   The desert is in bloom.   That means there are wildflowers blooming where usually no flowers bloom.   Entering Death Valley National Park, we will look for wildflowers.

Going into Death Valley National Park

Going into Death Valley National Park

This desert usually receives 2 inches of rain annually and summer temperatures over 120 degrees are normal.   Here are a few flowers.

Purple flowers

Purple flowers

We like purple, and of course yellow is one of our favorite colors.   These white flowers are pretty, also.

White flowers

White flowers

And the flowers are growing in gravel like soil.   Mom buys potting soil for our flowers and needs to water every few days.   The flowers are beautiful this year, but mom did not get very good photos.

Thousands of flowers blooming

Thousands of flowers blooming.   Find yellow ducks in yellow flowers

Looking online you will see better views of flowers.   A fellow traveler we met at dinner one evening, suggested we take Artists Drive to see flowers.

We are in the flowers

We are in the flowers

We did, and also went to Artists Palette.   Artists Palette shows colors of the mountains.

Volcanic rocks of many colors

Volcanic rocks of many colors

Over 5 million years ago repeated volcanic eruptions blanketed the landscape, depositing ash and minerals.    The volcanic minerals were chemically altered by heat and water, with variable amounts of oxygen and other introduced elements.   Chemical analysis have identified iron, aluminum,magnesium and titanium,but no copper.   Some of the colored minerals here include red hematite and green chlorite.   We love the information signs in national parks.   Further along Artists Drive, we admired this  splash of turquoise mountain.

Color of Caribbean in rocks here.

Color of Caribbean in rocks here.

Just like  huge turquoise wave in the Caribbean Sea.   Here are a few more of this years wildflowers.

Different purple flowers

Different purple flowers

This bush is even producing small yellow flowers.

Bush has tiny yellow flowers

Bush has tiny yellow flowers

We especially liked these flowers.

Wildflowers really are growing wild this year.

Wildflowers really are growing wild this year.

This was our first time in Death Valley.    We were fascinated by the entire landscape and we will show you more next time.   You should see Death Valley soon.   You will like it also.