Narrow Canyon, Hiker. Death Valley National Park, California. March 30, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A hiker passes through a narrow section of a desert canyon.
Almost anywhere you are in desert country, canyons can be attractive places on days that might not be so enjoyable out in the open. They are often protected from wind — and in Death Valley, at least on this trip, that also meant protected from dust storms. Their light is frequently appealing during midday hours where many other locations are experiencing harsh flat light — in canyons the midday light can reflect down among the canyon walls and look beautiful at almost any time of day. They can also be cooler, with high walls that protect from the hottest sun.
Between morning and evening photography we decided we would take a hike up this canyon — not the most popular in the park but not the least visited either, so we shared the experience with some other hikers. The approach to this canyon took us across the lower face of an arid mountain range, then dropped into a wash and started to ascend, with tall canyon walls quickly ascending both sides of the canyon. In places this canyon is impressively narrow, and everywhere it is very deep. While it has some of the water-formed features that are common to all such canyons, these Death Valley canyons have a rugged and rough-hewn character that is quite different from that of the popular Utah canyons.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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