Death Valley Days
Did you know that Death Valley National Park is the largest park in the continental United States? I was unaware of that fact until I made my first trip there this past February. As a kid growing up I was limited to 4 channels of broadcast television and one of my favorite TV shows was Death Valley Days. No cable or streaming back then, and westerns were quite popular fare for young impressionable minds. Despite my love for the western genre, this was my first foray into Death Valley. I hooked up with another photographer friend, Barry Cain, who had been there before, and we ventured into this vast national park. We spent two nights in Death Valley and ended up spending one night in Bishop, CA. The Bishop, CA stay was weather forced one. We were going to head up to shoot Mono Lake, but a winter white out storm kept us from getting past Mammoth. Bishop is another story, but suffice to say, we made up for not getting to Mono Lake by touring Bishop’s vicinity and getting some really interesting landscape images.
Death Valley is a place you could easily spend three days in. It’s a huge park, and there are quite few things to see, despite its dry vastness. Mesquite Dunes, Bad Water Basin, the lowest point in North America, Zabriskie Point, The Racetrack, Stovepipe Wells, are just a few of the highlights one can see in Death Valley. I recommend the winter months, less traffic, easier to get a hotel room, and less people overall. Though, my understanding is that in the springtime if there are good rains, you will be reward with an abundance of desert blooms. Except for this spring, rains have not been what they were hoping for. The summer provides the heat, as high as 120 degrees. There are signs on certain road passages that tell you to turn off your A/C because of potential engine overheating, and the crowds swell during this time as well.
On this trip I decided to travel light. I took one camera, the Olympus OMD EM1 MK!!, the 12-100mm f/4, 25mm f 1.2, and 7-14mm f/2.8, Really Right Stuff Ballhead, and a travel Gitzo tripod. One backpack, the Atlas Athlete, that carried all of my gear, clothing, Ipad Pro, back up drive, and cables. That was the essence of my carry on. I’ve had a tendency these past few trips to travel as light as possible. Makes it easier getting through airports, onto planes, and keeping things as minimalistic as possible. As for Death Valley, if you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list. It’s worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.