Death Valley; The Inexplicable

Badwater

Let’s face it. Death Valley is weird. Its diversity and appeal is wholly based on its strangeness. Here one finds the lowest piece of dry land within the continent that’s within eyeshot of the highest peak in the continental United States. Within a few short months it can snow in portions of the park boundaries and then record the hottest temperatures on the planet. Windswept dunes are just a short drive from a jagged, flesh-tearing plain of knife-life salt crystals. Ancient cratered calderas exist just over the rise from deep mine shafts that only yesterday held the dreams of men clawing at the indignant earth.

But this is why we visit this place. We stand in stultified awe at the weirdness and trudge up those whispering dunes, stumble across absurd salt plains and descend into those prehistoric volcanoes because we want to make sense of it all; but such is the quest of fools.

It is best just to accept the improbability of Death Valley and embrace its oddness. And gaze appreciatively that such a place exists. And nod at the appropriateness that Death Valley was designated as a National Park on Halloween in 1994 to be preserved for the age of man. And behold its sheer size; it is the largest of the parks outside of Alaska. And discover life, that defies reason but exists here and nowhere else. And dare to trek amongst geology and canyons and boulders that remind us of our small place in the world. And smile.

Death Valley is never a place to visit once or to be considered as a bucket list destination. Once you pass the gates you will find that this is a park to visit again and again. Each time discovering some puzzling new thing while being comforted at familiar sights, you’ll be drawn back to feel that weird and slightly mind altering experience that best defines Death Valley.

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