Basin and Range. Death Valley National Park, California. March 28, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A long distance view across Death Valley and to distant mountains beyond
The landscape of Death Valley National Park is immense. The fact that it is the largest national park in the lower 48 states begins to penetrate my awareness the more time I spend there. A number of years ago I spent some time on a very long cycling trip in Alaska and the Yukon, and this desert landscape comes closer than any other I have experienced to evoking the same sense of huge distances and deep stillness and quiet. This landscape extends even further beyond the boundaries of the park, from the Sierra Nevada to the west to distant peaks of the basin and range country to the east.
This high elevation location opens to such a huge swath of terrain that it is difficult to get your mind around the scale of what you are seeing. For example, there is a road out there in the large valley. To get there from the place where my tripod was set up would take me hours of driving — and that would take me perhaps less than half way toward the most distant peaks. Enhancing the other-worldly quality of this morning was the unusual atmosphere. The clouds of a weather front were breaking up over the mountains and valleys, and their shadows were moving across the landscape. Meanwhile, in another valley far behind me, dust storm conditions (which would envelope this entire scene by the end of the day) were beginning to pick up, and already the atmosphere was getting that milky, hazy quality that precedes such weather. At the bottom of the scene is an immense gravel fan that has carried material down from these mountains, filling the valley in places to thousands of feet of depth.
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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