Death Valley actually sits right on a major fault where the plates hit each other. The eastern side is being pushed under the western side. The valley sits almost 300 feet below sea level and if it were for the erosion of the nearby mountains, it would be about 9,000 feet below sea level! But the earthquakes that push up the mountains are still happening but relatively rarely while the erosion is constant. So the valley fills in. Yet each major quake causes the valley to sink some only to be filled by more erosion.
The Panamint mountains on the west side of the valley.
The Panamint mountains are formed on the side that is being pushed up and over. They range in height to over 11,000 ft.!
Artist’s Drive – a one-way nine mile loop that takes you in behind some of the hills to view very colorful rock formations.
I know Carol will have more great pictures to share on her blog about the Artist’s Drive, so I am going to focus on the topography of this area. As you can see above, the terrain is quite rough. Most of this roughness is caused by erosion when the rare flash flood comes.
Here you can see an erosion caused boulder field. Because the Panamint mountains are high enough to block most of the rain (they get less that 2 inches a year), the water for erosion is from summer thunder storms which are rare, but very wet!
Here you can see gullies carved in the stone by these thunder storms.
If you look carefully at the above picture, you can see a ridge line of gullies that have their ends eroded off.
Another area that we visited was the Devil’s golf course. Being an avid golfer, I just had to see Satan’s home course.
The above sign shows a close up of the #6 fairway.
Here is a picture of what the fairways and greens look like. As you can see, almost every shot will put you in the rough. Me thinks this is way harder than Pebble Beach or Spyglass Hill for sure! I wonder how many balls he loses per round?
Above is a close up of the rock & salt formation here at the Devil’s Golf Course. I usually carry a sand wedge, but I wonder if he uses a rock wedge to get out of here?
We drove further down to the Badwater area. There actually is water here and in the early days, a mule driver could not get his mules to drink it, so he called it Badwater. The water here actually comes from snow melt in the mountains, some as far away as Utah and Colorado. The water generally travels in aquifers a few hundred feet underground. But since this part of the park is about 280 feet below sea level, the water comes to the surface. When it does, it picks up some of the salt and that is why the mules would not drink it.
There is a nice path that starts with a boardwalk to get past the water areas and then you can walk for about a half mile out onto the salt areas.
The view of the salt flats from out in the middle of them. From the road, this area looks like a lake with water in it.
We came back to the RV and had lunch. There are no local TV stations here but the park has cable TV. However, the cable to our site and the one next to it was cut by someone. I tried to splice it but splicing coax cable is not easy and rarely works. Fortunately, I have a 50’ coax cable with the right ends on it from my cell phone booster that reaches and works just great! Now I can watch some of the NFL playoff games this weekend on TV.
Not sure how long we are staying here. Originally we planned for 4 nights but can stay up to 6 if we want to before someone else gets the spot. There is so much to do here, we may just do that. But gas here is over $5/gal – a far cry from the $2.94 we saw in Vegas. So we are trying to conserve gas too and fortunately we figured gas here would be expensive, so we filled up both car and RV in Vegas before we left.