After returning from Anacapa Island, we drove the 5 hours to Death Valley. We stayed at The Ranch at Death Valley in Furnace Creek. The hotel is in a prime location although you definitely pay for it.
We woke up before dawn on Sunday morning and drove 15 minutes to a popular overlook named Zabriskie Point. There were a ton of photographers lined up with their fancy tripods waiting for the sunrise. I found a little spot and sat there with my flimsy tripod and and 8 year old camera and took a bunch of photos as the sun slowly rose over the eastern mountains.
Around 9am, we headed back to the hotel to get our free breakfast. With the room costing approximately $350/night and dinners costing around $30 each, we were determined to take advantage of the free breakfast. After completing breakfast, we headed out to hike the Golden Canyon.
The entire hike was 4.8 miles and had an elevation gain of 919 feet. The Gower Gulch trail was hiked to make a loop. The hiking GPS track is shown in the map below.
After finishing the Golden Canyon hike around 12:30pm, we drove to the Devil’s Golf Course. This area has huge, jagged deposits of salt and mud. It’s frustrating just to walk over. Here’s a picture although I don’t think it really gives a sense of the weird salt structures.
Our next stop was the Room Canyon Hike. This one was a little off the beaten path. We learned about it from a hiking guide book in the general store at the hotel. It was an interesting hike but I didn’t really get many good photos. In fact, the only photo I like from the hike were of these small flowers.
The following map shows our GPS track of the Room Canyon hike.
We then drove to Artist’s Palette right around sunset. Artist’s Palette is a section of the mountains that has different shades of pink, purple, and green. Each color is associated with a given mineral. Red, pink, and yellow indicate iron, purple indicates manganese, and green indicates decomposition of tuff-derived mica.
After sunset, we drove back to the hotel and ate a buffet-style dinner. Afterwards, we drove back to where we started the day, Zabriskie Point, for some night photography.