Death Valley Trip Wrap-up

Finally, I’ve published all my notes from Death Valley trip. I’m glad I’m done. Now I can move on to all the images that I’ve already captured after the trip to Death Valley.

Here are some final thoughts on things I’d do different on a trip to Death Valley.

I’d go to Death Valley in November-February. The sun stays lower thru the day, sunsets and sunrises are longer, and there is more time for night photography and sleep. The reason I went this end of March was because a few years back there were a lot of wild flowers blooming at about the same time. But it was an unusual year with more rains than normal. That happens only once in lifetime.

I’d take at least one tilt-shift lens to get sharpness through the scene while photographing dunes and canyons without locking aperture all the way down.

I’d drive to Eureka Dunes from Big Pine, it is much easier and safer road (could be faster too).

I’d rent a smaller car to travel to Death Valley and to get around and I’d rent a car with heavy duty tires in Death Valley to go to Race Track. Having big car is not helpful. Heaving heavy duty tires or couple full size spares is what is really needed.

Big Pine

Day 3, Noon

With a spare tire that I put the day before I could not get far, since it was not regular size. I needed to fix that problem first. The closest town – Big Pine – was over an hour away, especially with spare tire with a limit of 50 mph.

The drive to Big Pine turned out pretty interesting and picturesque. From there I decided to drive along Sierra Nevada mountain range south and re-enter Death Valley from west. That way I would have entered the valley from every road available.

The road was very nice. If I were to go to Eureka Dunes again that’s probably the way I would approach it. And for convenience I could even stay in Big Pine for a night.

The drive to Big Pine and then driving west of Death Valley turned out very picturesque. Here is a road from Eureka Dunes with snowy Sierra Nevada in the distance:

Road from Eureka Dunes

Here is a nice roller-coaster ride to the west entrance to Death Valley with mountains in the distance hidden behind dust storm:

Roller Coaster

And here are the curves of road descending into Death Valley with its colorful mountains (click on the image to see it larger):


Eureka Dunes

Day 2, Sunset

Here they are – Eureka Dunes. This is the first time I went there. Their size is magnificent and awe inspiring.

Eureka Dunes

Just as I approached Eureka Dunes a low pressure indicator came up on console. I stopped and stepped outside. I could here a fizzing sound coming from a punched tire. Photography aside I had to replace the tire first.

Changing tire in heat and dust is not fun. At first I thought it was kind of lame that I had made all this way without a problem and got a flat at the destination. But in retrospective I think it was good it happened there and not in the middle of the road. It was easier to change tire on a leveled camping site than a rough road. And there were other campers there who were more than happy to help.

Once the tire was replaced I was ready to photograph a sunset. And what a sunset it was!

Here is the last light on the highest dune. The clouds are still white and soft.

Eureka Dunes

And here are the clouds lit up.

Eureka Dunes

Big Pine Road

Day 2, Afternoon

My next destination in Death Valley was Eureka Dunes. Eureka Dunes are remote but are worth the drive. Their size is magnificent and awe inspiring.

The way I got there was by Big Pine Road coming from Scottys Castle. It was about 2 hour drive on a rough unpaved road. The views were great and I stopped several times to take photos. The very first post of the series about this trip (Death Valley) has one of the views opening up for traveller.

There are a couple of interesting sites a long the way. First one is Crankshaft Crossing that actually have a few crankshafts lying around:

Crankshaft Crossing

And the other one is remains of a sulfur mine that was abandoned long time ago. With much of equipment abandoned to rust it looks like a scar on a landscape. One sheet of metal was loose and flapping in the wind making a squeaky sound. This made the place feel ghostly and spooky.

Mine 1

Mine 2

Mine 3

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