Archive for May, 2012

There are a few places in hot, dry Death Valley that have water.  For example, Stovepipe Wells got its name from the “stovepipe well” nearby; sections of stovepipe had been pounded into the ground long ago to shore up the sides of a nearby well and to mark its location.  Scotty’s Castle was built because of a natural creek flowing downhill toward its location.  And here’s another spring-fed oasis:

Thanks to water provided by Furnace Creek, The Inn has been in business since 1927

You walk through a tunnel and through a magic door…    🙂

…what lies beyond?…

…and…surprise!  Lily ponds in the desert!

The music of cascading streams is soothing

Walking paths meander down the hill past streambeds, little waterfalls and lily ponds, surrounded by palms and punctuated with bougainvillea.  Tucked into flowery corners and nooks are seating areas, and the spring-fed pool is nearby:

Panamint Mountains view, and the arid desert on the other side of the trees

Hmm…an upscale resort nestled at the foot of the Funeral Mountains, south of Hells Gate, northwest of Coffin Peak, Deadman Pass and Badwater Basin, in a place called Death Valley…you’d think it would be a tough sell, wouldn’t you?  But no!

In fact, Death Valley is packed all summer with European tourists who want to see for themselves just how hot, hot can get.  Air temperatures hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and ground temps can top 200 degrees.  Americans vanish in the summer like the surface water at Badwater, and leave the place to German and French travelers who want to find out if the soles of rubber-soled shoes really will melt as they walk through Death Valley.

The architects borrowed from the California Mission style -- good choice

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Death Valley looks peaceful and unchanging, and is anything but!

This is Ubehebe Crater, near Scotty’s Castle.  Its estimated age ranges from a few hundred to 2,000 years — just an eyeblink in geologic time.

The volcano blew and left this behind

This is the biggest crater in the volcanic field at the north end of the park.  Magma crawled through fault lines and hit an underground water supply, and the superheated steam blasted this crater and smaller ones nearby.

The layers of rock are a time capsule:

Geologists can read the layers like a history book

There’s a pathway to nearby Little Hebe Crater, another down to the bottom of Ubehebe, and a trail that winds around the rim.  Volcanic activity, earthquakes, flash floods, and extremes of hot and cold all shape and reshape this land.

Trail to Little Hebe Crater

Gusts of wind at the top of the crater can just about knock you off your feet, so care is needed on the trails.

Weird thought — this view could vanish in the next explosion…

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