Death Valley in May

Badwater salt basin in Death Valley National Park, California
Badwater salt basin in Death Valley National Park, California

Recently I went camping in Death Valley National Park. I’ve been to many deserts and all have a unique quality, but Death Valley lives up to the superlatives in its tagline: Hottest, Driest, and Lowest. Only second in the world behind Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya (136 °F) for the highest temperature ever recorded, the basin reached  134 °F in 1913 making it the hottest in North America. 120 °F is not uncommon during the summer, but fortunately we encountered a mild spring in the 80’s. The Valley’s salt basin is the lowest point, 282 feet below sea level and the park overall averages less than 1.7 inches of rain a year.

Despite these harsh conditions, wildlife and plants can flourish in the Park; the wildlife is sparse – more birds than anything and countless lizards crossed my path on the trails, but the first night we were startled by coyote barks in the distance. Flowers were fairly abundant, tiny little things.

The trip lasted only a few days so I had little time to wait for great light, but I brought back a few images I like. Since the landscape is mostly sand and rock, making it look strikingly similar to the surface of Mars, there isn’t much color in the scenic photos. In some cases B&W seemed a more appropriate choice to capture the desolation of the harsh terrain. A few shots showed the subtle gradations of color in the terrain, especially the still-green bushes and red, black, green, and yellow of the rock.

Check out Death Valley in May here.