|Death Valley National Park
Devil's Golf Course as viewed from Badwater Road in Death Valley
Twenty-Mule-Team Borax Trail accessed from Highway 190 in Death Valley
Huge Salt Pan on the floor in Death Valley as viewed from the Dante's Point.
Multi-Colored Rocks at Artists Palette on Artists Drive off Badwater Road in Death Valley
Zoom in on the Sand Dunes in Death Valley as viewed from Highway 190 near Stovepipe Wells Village.
A picture of me (Sing Lin) at Ubehebe (Volcanic) Crater at north end of Death Valley in my April 2003 trip.
A views in southern part of Death Valley.
Scotty Castle in northern part of Death Valley. There is a good sized spring here supplying water for this castle
in the desert.
Huge area of Salt Pan on the floor as viewed from Badwater Road in Death Valley
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At elevation of 282 ft (85 m) below sea level, Badwater Basin in Death Valley is the official lowest (in
elevation) point in North America. On the other hand, at elevation of 14, 495 feet, Mt. Whitney is the highest
peak in the contiguous (lower 48 states in) United States. It is interesting to note that the lowest place in
North America—Badwater—and the highest spot in the lower 48 states—Mt. Whitney—are only 76 miles
apart in eastern California. Lone Pine on Scenic Byway 395 is a popular gateway for many tourists to access
both the highest Peak, Mt. Whitney, and the lowest point, Death Valley National Park.
Therefore, in our tour of Eastern Sierra in April 2012, we also toured the nearby Death Valley National Park.
This is our second tour of Death Valley National Park. Our first time of touring Death Valley National Park
was in April 2003. I combined the photos of Death Valley National Park from the 2003 trip and the 2012 trip
in this web page.
Map: Click here to see a map showing location of Death Valley National Park relative to U S 395 in Eastern
Entrance to the Golden Canyon as viewed from Badwater Road in Death Valley
Scenery near Golden Canyon in Death Valley
One of several fantastic views along Highway 190 going from Furnace Creek Visitor Center to Death Valley
Large pumice bed where almost nothing can grow on the floor of Death Valley.
Magnificent view at sunset time along scenic Highway 374 (Daylight Pass Road) between Hell's Gate in Death
Valley and Beatty in Nevada.
Then we drove on unpaved dirt road in Ash Meadows NWR to reach Devils Hole which is part of Death Valley
National Park even though Devils Hole is in Ash Meadows NWR in Nevada and is physically separated from
Devils Hole in a protected fenced-in area. It is a collapsed roof of an arm of an underground lake. It is the only
natural habitat of the Devils Hole pupfish, which thrives in such hot water.
See the following YouTube movie on the big waves in this underground lake caused by an earthquake
thousands of miles away:
We also saw some waterfowl in Crystal Reservoir. However, it was at sunset time such that we did not have
much time to explore Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
A view along Highway 190 in Death Valley National Park.
The magnificent scenery at Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark. It is one of the most unusual and
interesting geological features in the California Desert National Conservation Area. It is about 15 miles
southwest of Death Valley National Park and about 20 miles east of the town of Ridgecrest, in southern
California. Therefore, we also toured Trona Pinnacles in this trip in 2012.
Map: Click here for an interactive Google Map showing location of Trona Pinnacles in eastern California
Directions to go from the town of Ridgecrest to Trona Pinnacles:
1. From Ridgecrest, California travel 20 miles east on State Highway 178 to its intersection with
Trona-Red Mountain Road.
2. Continue east on Highway 178 for 7.7 miles,
3. Then turn south into Pinnacle Road (an unpaved dirt road, RM 143) -- drive 5 more miles south on this
unpaved Pinnacles Road until you reach the pinnacles.
Warning: The unpaved dirt road is rough, and covered in sharp rocks that could do serious damage, stay out of
the sand washes. Quite a few cars have been stranded in the wide sand wash that divides the main Pinnacles
group. It is highly desirable to use 4X4 all wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. Furthermore, summertime
temperatures here can reach 120 degrees F.; spring and fall are the best times to visit.
A number of Hollywood films have been shot in the surrounding desert (particularly around the Trona
Pinnacles), including Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Planet of the Apes.
The nearby little town, Trona, takes its name from the mineral trona, abundant in the lakebed of Searles Lake,
a dry lake bed in Searles Valley.
The mechanism for the formation of these Trona Pinnacles is the same as that of Tufa Towers on Mono Lake
as described on my web page at:
A mining company near the town of Trona is mining and processing the mineral trona from the dry lake bed of
We also saw a similar mining company mining trona from the dry lake bed of Owens Lake in Owens Valley
near Lone Pine as described on my web page at:
Big pile of mined minerals at Trona.
Shape of a shark on the Panamint Mountain as viewed from Highway 178 when we were driving from Trona
Pinnacles to Highway 190 to go to Death Valley National Park
Another magnificent view at sunset time along scenic Highway 374 (Daylight Pass Road) between Hell's Gate
in Death Valley and Beatty in Nevada.
A picture of me (Sing Lin) at the Visitor Center in my April 2003 Trip.
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour
loop of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration covering many Points of Interest is described
on my web page at:
The unusual landscape at the Trona Pinnacles consists of more than 500 tufa spires on the dry lake bed of
Searles Lake in Searles Valley. Some as high as 140 feet (43 m). The pinnacles vary in size and shape from
short and squat to tall and thin, and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate (tufa). They are spread over
a 15-square-mile area.
These unique rock formations were created about 10,000 years ago when Searles Lake formed a link in a
chain of interconnected lakes throughout the Owens Valley and the Mojave Desert. At its peak, due to glacial
runoff from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Searles Lake reached a depth of 640 feet and overflowed into
Panamint Valley and Death Valley.
The tufa pinnacles formed underwater through the interaction of blue-green algae and local chemical and
geothermal conditions. As the regional climate changed and the glaciers disappeared. Substantial amount of
water in the isolated lake was evaporated away. The trapped remaining water in isolated Searles Lake
became rich in carbonate brine. Underwater hot springs rich in super-saturated calcium mix with cool lake
water rich in carbonates (the stuff in baking soda). As the calcium comes in contact with carbonates in the
lake, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in calcium carbonate -- limestone. The calcium carbonate
precipitates (settles out of solution as a solid) around the underwater hot spring, and over the course of
decades to centuries, a Tufa tower will grow under water. Colonies of blue-green algae then bonded to these
deposits and, over several thousand years, formed tufa reefs under brine water. As the water in the Searles
Lake evaporated away over the long geological time, the underwater Tufa towers become the Trona Pinnacles
standing on the dry lake bed.