Our "Death Valley Days"
When Death Valley began attracting tourists in the 1930s, one promotion promised “An exciting trip through Hell without the inconveniences.”
Death Valley is indeed our nation’s hottest, driest, and lowest national park. But contrary to many preconceptions, it is is NOT an endless expanse of barren, sun-baked desert sand. Rather, it is a long, low depression (130 miles long but only around 12 miles wide) surrounded by towering peaks which, during our visit, were frosted with winter snow.
Nor was it hot. In fact, during most of our stay, average temperatures were colder than northern Virginia, and the morning thermometer often struggled to reach freezing. Nor was it the driest. Recent California rains had swelled an underground river so much that it had surfaced through much of the valley, causing several roads to be washed out. That, along with several rock slides, prevented us from reaching some of the most scenic spots.
Nonetheless, Death Valley proved to be a visual delight — and a photographer's dream.