Death Valley National Monument

Colorful Scenery

The Death Valley country is often favorably compared with Grand Canyon, and justly so. From such points as Dante's View, Chloride Cliffs, and Grand View the panoramas unfolded before the incredulous visitor are characterized by blazing color. From Dante's View at an elevation of 5,160 feet one looks down at the glistening white salt beds of the Bad Water region that are below sea level. Across the crystallized floor of Death Valley, the eye sweeps up the red and purple slopes of the Panamints to the summit of Telescope Peak, a majestic elevation of 11,045 feet. Shift the gaze to the north and just over the crest of this range to where Mount Whitney thrusts its rugged head into the sky a distance of 14,496 feet. Here, within sight of each other, are the highest and lowest points in the United States.

Ubehebe Crater is the chief natural attraction in the northern part of Death Valley. A car may be driven to its rim where the crater, shaped like a huge funnel, yawns at the skies with its mile-wide mouth. The bottom is 780 feet below the rim.

Titus Canyon, entered from the east side of the Grapevine Mountains through Leadfield, is a one-way canyon by reason of its very narrow floor. Traffic is not permitted up this canyon. The walls rise sheer for hundreds of feet and colors run riot. Designs in contrasting shades and forms support the belief of the imaginative that Mother Nature was in a playful mood when she carved this serpentine canyon.

The Devil's Gold Course, lying south of Furnace Creek, is an expanse of salt, crystallized into weird and fantastic shapes varying from an inch to more than 3 feet in height. These dwarfed and twisted pinnacles cover the area so closely that a flat space large enough to lay one's hat cannot be found. The salt is not just thin surface strata; a well reached a depth of over a thousand feet, and except for a few thin layers of clay the rest was salt. This area is well named, for only the devil could play golf on such a course.

The sand dunes, while not unusual in desert country, are nevertheless a notable attraction. Occupying some 60 square miles of the center of the valley near Stovepipe Wells, their surfaces rippled and their contours gracefully curved and rounded by the whimsical winds, they present an ever-changing picture of beauty.

Bad Water, lowest point in America, is an open pool of water on the eastern side of the valley, 18-1/2 miles south of Furnace Creek. The water, a saturated solution of various salts, is the terminal of the Amargosa River. Amargosa, Spanish for "bitter", is used advisedly, for the waters, when flowing, are as better as gall.

Mosaic Canyon opens into Death Valley from the Panamint Range and is so named because of its vari-colored rocks, polished and set in the walls.

There are far too many natural wonders in Death Valley to describe them all, even briefly. The valley is a strange and beautiful land, enhanced by sudden, colorful sunrises and smouldering sunsets. Everywhere one looks a colorful fantasy greets the eye. The color chart ranges from brilliant reds, greens, yellows, and all the intermediate tints to somber black.

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© 2000-2002 by Jacque Rogers