Category

Death Valley

The Racetrack, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Photos of the Racetrack in Death Valley National Park, and the Racetrack’s sliding rocks (or sailing stones).

The Racetrack is an ancient dry lake bed in Death Valley, famous for its sailing stones. Located between the Last Chance Mountains and the Cottonwood Mountains, the Racetrack Playa lies at 3600′ above sea level, is about 3 miles long by 1 mile wide in size, and appears almost perfectly flat. Much of the year the Racetrack lakebed is totally dessicated and covered with small hexagonal mud patterns, although during the two rainy seasons that Death Valley experiences the playa becomes muddy and is sometimes “underwater”. At the south end of the Racetrack Playa are found the Racetrack’s famous “sailing stones”. Typically about the size of a shoe box or larger, the stones mysteriously move about the playa leaving trails behind them. Noone has actually observed any of the stones moving. One theory about their locomotion suggests that a combination of wet mud (during the winter rainy season) and high winds, perhaps combined with a thin layer of ice atop the mud, allows the stones to slide. Evidence indicates that the rocks move once every few years, and that tracks last only 4-5 years. My hunch is the occasions of the stones’ movement is a function of seasonal weather patterns and the presence or absence of sufficient water, wind and ice to trigger the sailing phenomenon. The sailing stones originate on the slope of a hill that rises above the south end of the playa. Many of the stones have moved hundreds of yards from their source, out toward the center of the lake bed, each leaving a striated channel behind it in the mud, like the wake of a boat.

Sunset over the Racetrack Playa. The Cottonwood Mountains rise above the flat, dry, ancient lake bed, Death Valley National Park, California

Sunset over the Racetrack Playa. The Cottonwood Mountains rise above the flat, dry, ancient lake bed.
Image ID: 25265
Location: Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

A sliding rock of the Racetrack Playa.  The sliding rocks, or sailing stones, move across the mud flats of the Racetrack Playa, leaving trails behind in the mud.  The explanation for their movement is not known with certainty, but many believe wind pushes the rocks over wet and perhaps icy mud in winter, Death Valley National Park, California

A sliding rock of the Racetrack Playa. The sliding rocks, or sailing stones, move across the mud flats of the Racetrack Playa, leaving trails behind in the mud. The explanation for their movement is not known with certainty, but many believe wind pushes the rocks over wet and perhaps icy mud in winter.
Image ID: 25243
Location: Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

The Grandstand, standing above dried mud flats, on the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, Death Valley National Park, California

The Grandstand, standing above dried mud flats, on the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley.
Image ID: 25318
Location: Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Racetrack Playa, an ancient lake now dried and covered with dessicated mud, Death Valley National Park, California

Racetrack Playa, an ancient lake now dried and covered with dessicated mud.
Image ID: 25315
Location: Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Sailing stone on the Death Valley Racetrack playa.  The sliding rocks, or sailing stones, move across the mud flats of the Racetrack Playa, leaving trails behind in the mud.  The explanation for their movement is not known with certainty, but many believe wind pushes the rocks over wet and perhaps icy mud in winter, Death Valley National Park, California

Sailing stone on the Death Valley Racetrack playa. The sliding rocks, or sailing stones, move across the mud flats of the Racetrack Playa, leaving trails behind in the mud. The explanation for their movement is not known with certainty, but many believe wind pushes the rocks over wet and perhaps icy mud in winter.
Image ID: 25333
Location: Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

At the north end of the Racetrack is found the “Grandstand”, an assemblage of giant round boulders stacked in the middle of the playa. In the olden days**, miners would gather on the Grandstand to stage and watch horse races on the playa.

Our visit: After we left the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, we drove on some long but easy dirt roads to Scotty’s Castle where we stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs. We saw some great expanses of flowers along the way, evidence that the wildflower bloom comes later to the higher-altitude reaches of Death Valley. After Scotty’s Castle, we drove to the Racetrack via the notorious Uhebehebe-Crater-to-Racetrack-Road, a 27-mile-long dirt road that is famous for its tire-piercing ability and funky Teakettle Junction at which a photo must be taken. (Yes, those are actual teakettles hanging from the Teakettle Junction sign.) 4WD is not required for this drive but the suspensions that 4WD vehicles typically have are helpful for the washboard track. Sturdy tires with sidewall puncture resistant are also helpful. I have experienced a flat tire on this road in the past and it was a bummer, but on this visit we were in a well-equipped off-road vehicle and the road was in super shape so we made it to the Racetrack in about 45 minutes with no drama. We spent one sunset admiring the sailing stones, then shot some night sky photos and milky way timelapse video while camping at the primitive campground beyond the Racetrack. We returned to look at the rocks again at sunrise the next morning, then climbed to the top of the Grandstand on our way back out to Uhebehebe Crater. We saw one car in the distance while we were at the playa, but never actually enountered another person the entire time we were there. It was great.

I wish Leonard Nimoy would produce an episode of “In Search Of” about these uber-curious stones since it is my theory that, while they are interesting to landscape photographers, the mud tracks are actually landing strips left behind by tiny alien spacecraft. I discovered another Alien Spaceport in California some years ago. I now believe there is a network of these facilities, with the Racetrack being just one example. I will continue my investigations in this regard.

**Olden days (n): a technical term referring to a vague period in history that occurred sometime before I was alive and about which I know virtually nothing.

Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, Infrared, National Parks

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes and the Eureka Valley in Death Valley National Park.

One of the goals of our recent Death Valley trip was to reach the wonderful Eureka Valley Sand Dunes. At almost 700′ tall, these dunes are some of the tallest in the United States (and are the tallest in California). The Eureka Valley lies in the northern reaches of Death Valley National Park, and became an official part of the Death Valley National Park in 1994 with the passage of the Desert Protection Act. The Eureka dune field is approximately 3 miles long and one mile wide, with the tallest dunes being at the north end. The Eureka Valley is geologically impressive, with the Last Chance Mountain Range rising 5500′ above the valley floor on the north and east and the Saline Mountains rising in the west. We reached the Eureka Valley via the Big Pine Road from Highway 395, spent a night at the primitive campground, and left via the Big Pine Road for the Racetrack. Conditions were ideal when we were there, with cool and calm weather and absolutely clear skies with a new moon that made a great night to photograph the Milky Way. We were also treated to a fly-by of the International Space Station in the northern sky just after sunset. I managed to shoot an interesting time lapse movie of the Milky Way rising above the southern horizon. Walking about the dunes, we came across the endangered Eureka Valley Dune Grass, and witnessed the strange phenomenon of “singing sands”. When a sand slope of just the right size and inclination was disturbed, the moving sand produced a deep thrumming that sounded just like a distant airplane. In the morning we found blooming wildflowers in the dessicated mud fields at the foot of the dunes, including the endangered Eureka Valley Evening Primrose and a little wildflower I have yet to identify. Our quick visit was nearly perfect — my one regret is not hiking all the way to the summit of the tallest dune. I am eager to return, and in the future I may skip the southern end of the park entirely and split my time between the Eureka Valley and the White Mountains (bristlecones!). If I do, the first order of business will be to ascend straight to the top of the tallest dune and hoist a cold one.

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts.  Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts. Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors.
Image ID: 25250
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts.  Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts. Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors.
Image ID: 25249
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Sunset on the Last Chance Mountain Range, seen from Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

Sunset on the Last Chance Mountain Range, seen from Eureka Valley Sand Dunes.
Image ID: 25238
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts.
Image ID: 25251
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Sand Dunes, infrared black and white.  The Eureka Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Sand Dunes, infrared black and white. The Eureka Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts.
Image ID: 25376
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to a few notable and imperiled plant species, which I blogged about recently: the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis) and Eureka Valley Dune Grass (Swallenia alexandrae)

Eureka Valley Dune Grass, Swallenia alexandrae

California, Death Valley, Desert, Flora, National Parks

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Dune Grass, Swallenia alexandrae, in Death Valley National Park.

The Eureka Valley Dune Grass (Swallenia alexandrae) is a federally endangered grass found only in the Eureka Valley, in the far northern reaches of Death Valley National Park. Swallenia is a monotypic genus, consisting only of the one species alexandrae. The grass is a rhizome, forming horizontal stems that spread laterally underneath the sand, producing new roots and shoots that lead to a tufted aggregation of the plant. This perennial grass grows on the slopes of the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes. In the past its survival was threatened by off-road vehicles, which were prohibited by BLM in the Eureka Valley in 1976 with enforcement effectively beginning in 1980. The area became part of Death Valley National Park in 1994. We found a number of small tufts of Eureka Valley Dune Grass on the dunes. This one depicts the Last Chance Mountain Range in the background, viewed from the north end of the dunes.

Eureka dune grass, and rare and federally endangered species of grass  endemic to the Eureka Valley and Eureka Sand Dunes.  The Last Chance mountains, lit by sunset, as visible in the distance.  Swallenia alexandrae, a perennial grass, grows only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, in Inyo County, California, Swallenia alexandrae, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Eureka dune grass, and rare and federally endangered species of grass endemic to the Eureka Valley and Eureka Sand Dunes. The Last Chance mountains, lit by sunset, as visible in the distance. Swallenia alexandrae, a perennial grass, grows only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, in Inyo County, California.
Image ID: 25358
Species: Eureka Valley dune grass, Eureka dunegrass, Swallenia alexandrae
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to another notable and imperiled plant species, which I blogged about recently: the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis)

Eureka Valley Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis

California, Death Valley, Desert, Flora, National Parks, Wildflowers

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis, in Death Valley National Park.

The Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis) is a federally endangered wildflower found only on and near the sand dune habitat of the Eureka Valley, in the far northern reaches of Death Valley National Park. Observed primarily at the Eureka Sand Dunes, it is also found on the nearby Saline Spur Dunes and Marble Canyon Dunes. According to a 2007 review of the 1982 recovery plan for the species, the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose is “a subspecies with a moderate degree of threat and a high recovery potential.” During spring and fall seasons that have enough rainfall, the plant blooms (typically April through June) with large white flowers that turn red as they age. As soon as I saw the first one, it instantly reminded me of its close cousin, the Dune Evening Primrose that I have seen in Anza Borrego. I am intrigued at how severely ecologically isolated the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose is, existing on just three sets of sand dunes. Sort of like a plant found on only a tiny atoll in the middle of the ocean, but this is the desert. Because of its rare nature and the wherethehellamI habitat in which it resides, it is now one of my favorite flowers.

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose.  A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California, Oenothera californica eurekensis, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose. A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California.
Image ID: 25237
Species: Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose.  A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California, Oenothera californica eurekensis, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose. A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California.
Image ID: 25267
Species: Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

I recently made a short visit to the Eureka Dunes with my photographer friends Garry McCarthy and John Moore. We were on a sort of banzai run**, trying to cover Eureka Dunes, the Racetrack and Badwater Salt Flats in 3 days. We definitely were not looking for wildflowers, so we were fortunate to find a few Eureka Valley Evening Primroses along the outskirts of the dunes. Our visit took place in mid-May, and heading into Death Valley I figured the wildflowers were past peak and would be burnt to a crisp by the harsh conditions. Indeed, in the lower regions of the park, wildflowers that presented such an excellent display earlier in the spring were long gone. However, the floor of the Eureka Valley is at an elevation of 2800′, where conditions are much cooler. In fact, as we approached Eureka Valley, and especially on the dirt roads between Eureka Valley and Death Valley at altitudes between 2000′ and 4000′, I was surprised by the richness and variety of the wildflower displays. It really was superb, and I might consider that region for a wildflower trip in future years since it offers a ton of solitude and some awesome vistas.

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to another endangered plant species: the Eureka Valley Dune Grass, Swallenia alexandrae.

**banzai photographer (n): (1) a photographer with a working spouse and multiple kids each of whom has lots of activities that require driving all over the place during the week, help with homework in the evenings, and then driving all over the place on the weekends; (2) a photographer who crams five days of photography into a single weekend; (3) a photographer with a banzai attitude about life; (4) a photographer who photographs banzai trees.

Milky Way Time Lapse Movie

Death Valley, National Parks, Time Lapse, Video

This is a time lapse video of the Milky Way rising in the south east sky, viewed from Death Valley. The Milky Way is our own galaxy, a thick spinning disc of stars with arms that thin as they spiral outward. Our Sun is located in one of the arms. When viewed from our Sun’s location, the Milky Way is viewed “on edge” and so appears as a broad band across the sky. The Milky Way is not aligned with the plane of the ecliptic, so it is not parallel with the paths that the moon and Sun follow across our sky. The central core of the Milky Way, which is the thick disc-like center of the galaxy, lies on the right side of this video. Some satellites and planes can be seen briefly in the video, along with a few shooting stars (meteors) near the bottom of the frame just before dawn. This was shot with two Canon digital SLR cameras over a period of about six hours, and is composed of about 500 photographs.

Photo of the Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

The Devil’s Golf Course is a curious assemblage of crystalline salt shapes spread over a large swath of the Death Valley salt pan. This saltpan, which is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, and indeed the western hemisphere, holds a small amount of subsurface moisture. This water is extremely salty and briny, a result of the accumulation of minerals that were left behind when the 30-foot-deep Holocene-era lake disappeared (the accumulation continues with each year’s winter rains). Capillary action draws the subsurface moisture upward. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind salt crystals that form myriad fantastic shapes. The growth is quite slow, perhaps as little as one inch every 35 years. Wind friction and seasonal flooding of the area during winter storms erodes or reshapes the salt crystal forms, and the process continues.

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15582
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Devils Golf Course. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 20552
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Badwater, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level. Indeed, it is the lowest point in the entire western hemisphere. The Badwater Basin is the catch point for 9000 square miles of drainage, however, there is typically little water here except following winter rains, since the water evaporates quickly. When it does, it leaves behind a saline, crusty, flat white playa made up of almost pure table salt and stretching for miles — a bizarre place. Evaporation is most extreme in Death Valley: a 1.9 inch annual rainfall is exceeded by evaporation potential of 150 inches per year, enough to scorch a 12 foot deep lake to dust in just 12 months. The water that does manage to persist here is the motivation for the place’s name, for it is a salty, warm, nasty swill which you are advised not to drink. A small, specialized species of snail, the Badwater snail, somehow manages to eke out an existence in these waters. Rising above the parking area are some of the oldest rocks in Death Valley, 1.7 billion (with a b) year old Precambrian volcanic and sedimentary rock layers that have metamorphosed into gneiss. Perched 282 feet up the cliff face is a sign marking sea level. If you visit, be sure to walk out onto the playa, not just a hundred yards or so but far enough that the other visitors and their cars become specks. Admire the sheer white horizon stretching in all directions, the Panamint Mountain and Black Mountain ranges that form the walls of the valley, and the blue sky. Hear the silence as your feet crackle and crunch the salt upon which you walk. Feel the parched air wick the sweat off your skin. Feel your throat become dry. Squint. So nice. Now back to the car and air conditioning, to sip your Diet Coke.

Badwater, Death Valley.  A spring feeds this small pool year round.  The water is four times more saline than ocean water.  The small Badwater snail (Assiminea infima) is found only in Death Valley, in spring-fed pools such as these, and is threatened by habitat destruction.  At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest point in North America, Death Valley National Park, California

Badwater, Death Valley. A spring feeds this small pool year round. The water is four times more saline than ocean water. The small Badwater snail (Assiminea infima) is found only in Death Valley, in spring-fed pools such as these, and is threatened by habitat destruction. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest point in North America.
Image ID: 20554
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15579
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15580
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Pink Sunrise on Telescope Peak over Badwater

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

I’ve been on a few deep scuba dives in my life but relative to sea level this is as deep as I have ever been, and I didn’t even need to strap on a scuba tank to get there. Seen here is delicate pre-dawn pink light on a snow covered Telescope Peak, viewed from Badwater. Telescope Peak, at 11,049 feet, is the highest point in Death Valley National Park as well as the Panamint Range. Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level.

Sunrise lights Telescope Peak as it rises over the salt flats of Badwater, Death Valley.  At 11,049 feet, Telescope Peak is the highest peak in the Panamint Range as well as the highest point in Death Valley National Park.  At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest point in North America

Sunrise lights Telescope Peak as it rises over the salt flats of Badwater, Death Valley. At 11,049 feet, Telescope Peak is the highest peak in the Panamint Range as well as the highest point in Death Valley National Park. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest point in North America.
Image ID: 20549
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

The Devil’s Golf Course is a curious assemblage of crystalline salt shapes spread over a large swath of the Death Valley salt pan. This saltpan, which is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, and indeed the western hemisphere, holds a small amount of subsurface moisture. This water is extremely salty and briny, a result of the accumulation of minerals that were left behind when the 30-foot-deep Holocene-era lake disappeared (the accumulation continues with each year’s winter rains). Capillary action draws the subsurface moisture upward. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind salt crystals that form myriad fantastic shapes. The growth is quite slow, perhaps as little as one inch every 35 years. Wind friction and seasonal flooding of the area during winter storms erodes or reshapes the salt crystal forms, and the process continues.

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15582
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15596
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15613
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley offers a great view from the Funeral Mountains, across curious gullies of sedimentary rock and packed mud that comprise the badlands below Zabriskie Point, to the floor of salt-pan floor of Death Valley and the Panamint Range in the distance. It is especially striking at sunrise, so much so that photographers have made it a must-take photo during their first visit to Death Valley. Manly Beacon rises in the midst of the panorama, its striped contours testament to the tilted layers of sediment of which it is formed.

Rainbow and clearing storm clouds, sunrise light on Manly Beacon, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Rainbow and clearing storm clouds, sunrise light on Manly Beacon, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California.
Image ID: 27660
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Full moon over Zabriskie Point landscape, Death Valley National Park, California

Full moon over Zabriskie Point landscape
Image ID: 28676
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Venus sets over Manley Beacon and the Panamint Mountains, viewed from Zabriskie Point, landscape lit by a full moon, evening, stars, Death Valley National Park, California

Venus sets over Manley Beacon and the Panamint Mountains, viewed from Zabriskie Point, landscape lit by a full moon, evening, stars
Image ID: 28677
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Zabriskie Point, sunrise.  Manly Beacon rises in the center of an eroded, curiously banded area of sedimentary rock, with the Panamint Mountains visible in the distance, Death Valley National Park, California

Zabriskie Point, sunrise. Manly Beacon rises in the center of an eroded, curiously banded area of sedimentary rock, with the Panamint Mountains visible in the distance.
Image ID: 15585
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Zabriskie Point photos