In my last post, as is now customary (because I give procrastination a new name) i’ll go over the drive from Canyonlands to the little town we stayed at about an hour outside of Las Vegas and the almost 2 hour long detour we took to grab pizza at this amazing little pizza joint just outside Zion National Park but, for now, lets talk about the frankly unexpected and almost whimsical nature of this park named Death Valley.
From Dante’s View to Artists Drive, Desolation Canyon to Bad Water Basin and my two favorites Devils Golf course and Devils Cornfield, there’s just an over abundance of imagination and even humour that I wouldn’t have expected here. And part of me wonders if this is one of those cases where you laugh because if you didn’t, you would cry.
There is definitely….I don’t want to say a reason to be depressed when you’re here, but it’s very easy to imagine the kind of despair and utter desperation you might feel if you were stuck out here with no real sense of which way was out. And Dante’s View is a perfect example of that. Not only is it a bit of a desolate drive to get up here, it’s not an easy one. And the view when you do make it up there is something entirely unexpected.
This was our first stop in the park, as we entered from the East by Death Valley Junction (passing the rather deserted and slightly creepy Amargosa Opera House) and looking back on it now, it was the perfect way to be introduced to the park. Once we’d made it up the insanely steep final mile, we gazed out at what looked exactly like a valley devoid of all life, the full embodiment of the parks name laid out bare before us. And it was breathtaking but it was also both over- and underwhelming. Overwhelming in the sense that you get a better idea of exactly how immense the area this park covers is, and underwhelming because you look out over the landscape and see what could be described as a desolate wasteland.
But then you go closer to the edge, get your eyes used to the view and the muted tones and you start seeing all the variations and subtle colors in the landscape, the cars whizzing by below like tiny toy cars on a black ribbon, the way the land rises and falls like a tired dry ocean. It becomes breathtaking in an almost literal way the further from the parking lot you get, the harsh wind coming up off the valley buffeting you from all sides and stealing the air from your lungs to take elsewhere.
It’s a fantastic view, basically. And I recommend stopping here either on your way into the park or out, as a magnificent hello or a beautiful goodbye.