During our April 2018 trip, we got a taste of Oregon, Las Vegas, Utah – and now Death Valley National Park. Leading up to going out west, we were heavily excited for the opportunity to spend some time together and getting to explore new facets of our photography in this unique desert environment.
Death Valley, CA is the type of place that can under the radar – but has also been met with it’s share of popularity over the years due to being featured in Star Wars and other films. For landscape photographers, it is also highly attractive due to the very limited amounts of light pollution – it is one of the best locations in the entire United States (and world) to stargaze and engage in astrophotography.
While there is much to see and do in Death Valley, we prioritized seeing the Mesquite Sand Dunes. Conveniently, the parking lot for this location was about 5 minutes from our hotel, so we ended up making multiple trips here. During the first evening, we took some portraits of each other under the romantic golden hour light. Later, we returned and hiked about a mile into the dunes to explore some astrophotography (a mind blowing experience). This was capped off when we met a photographer from Turkey doing the same, and having a fun casual chat under the stars was one of the things that attracts us to traveling to new places. Of course, while we enjoy some thrills, we were not the most enthused when we heard coyotes barking – with no light source around other than our phones. After about an hour on the dunes in the darkness, we returned to our hotel.
Our 2nd day in Death Valley was painted with exploration of the some of the other major sites in the park. In particular, Zabriskie Point and the Salt Flats were particularly impressive, for the unique landscapes and photography opportunities. In addition to the sand dunes, these are some must see locations in Death Valley if you are ever looking to explore this place for yourself.
After a long day spent in Death Valley, we returned to Las Vegas and boarded our flight to return home…
The most significant thing we have learned most about Death Valley in our time there was that it is a place difficult to put into words. It is not as jam packed with things to see like we experienced during our trip around Iceland – where we felt legitimately forced every couples of minutes to pull off the road and just stare in awe at the environment there. In Death Valley, there are many empty stretches of road with nothing in particular to look at. This is the middle of a desert after all! Still, the time spent at the unique natural wonders in the middle of this emptiness was incredible, and displays the reality that beauty can be found even in a place even like this.