Today, Scott and I are gonna be adding a new element to our blog, along with our write ups, photos, and videos, we are going to add a writing section dedicated to our favorite photography spots from our travels. Since Death Valley was our last trip, we will be talking about our experience there, and we hope this is will be a helpful resource for you if you are setting out on a photography trip 🙂 So lets get into it!
1.) Zabriskie Point
Scott and I planned on being here for the sunrise, because we had heard about the beautiful rock formations in this area. When we got there before the sun started to peak out, we could see how magical this area was. The rocks here have different colors that vary from light brown to dark brown to a beige, creamy color which resembled vanilla and chocolate ice cream. As the sun started to peak out across the sky, the most beautiful pink hue began to creep over the mountains in the distance, making it one of the most beautiful spots we had ever been for sunrise. We weren’t there for a sunset during our stay in Death Valley, but we can only imagine how gorgeous is would be.
2.) “Abandoned Salt Lake”
Between the Furnace Creek Visitors Center and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, there is a very long, open salt flat that spans the length of the highway running parallel to it. You can stop on the highway where ever you would like (that’s what we did) and once your car is safely parked, there is a short trek across a rocky field which leads you to a field of bushes that border the salt flat. As you continue to walk through the bushes, they start become more scarce and a lot more salt begins to cover the ground. Once you get through the bushes, which is and easy task as there are almost clear paths around them, you can set up some gorgeous photos from this spot. As you can see above, there is a beautiful backdrop of the mountains resting in the distance, and we were lucky enough to be here when the clouds were creating an amazing display of light across the sky. This location isn’t really a popular photo spot like some other places in the park and it was something Scott wanted to check out on his own, and we are glad we did 🙂
3.) Mesquite Sand Dunes
We had so much hype coming to Death Valley and preparing ourselves for the beauty of the sand dunes here. We had seen many photos prior to coming here and expected to be WOWed. We wanted to get some shadow elements from the sand dunes, so our main time frames for shooting were either at sunrise or sunset. We had it set that we definitely wanted to be there for the sunrise, so on our 2nd day in Death Valley, we spent the morning at the Sand Dunes. One thing to keep in mind when visiting in the cooler seasons like we did, is that the sand will be FREEZING before the sun comes up, so don’t wear flip flops like Courtney or you will have purple toes LOL. We brought a blanket and pillow with us into the dunes so we could rest in between shots as the light was coming up. When we first arrived, we could see a tiny bit of pink light on the mountains, so we were already thinking, “wow this is gonna be amazing.” Scott was on a mission to find the best “dune” for his pictures, and we finally found one, or at least found one when I couldn’t walk anymore. We settled on a dune that was pretty high up, but definitely not the biggest one we could see. Once we set up our “camp”, it was easy sailing from there. Being at the sand dunes was one of the most beautiful places to be to watch the sunrise. I think this was Scott’s favorite location throughout the entire trip. We didn’t get to stop here for sunset, but we can only imagine how beautiful it is. This was an amazing location for wide, landscape shots, but also a great place for a long lens because other people exploring dunes in the distance also created some pretty awesome compositions.
4.) Daylight Pass
On the road to “Scotty’s Castle” is a highway that leads you into the town of Beatty, NV. and (obviously) to Scotty’s Castle. During our 3rd day of exploring, we wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been yet for sunset, and we decided to take a different route out of the park to explore. As we started our drive, we noticed a slight incline while driving up the highway. About 15 minutes up the road, we looked back to see the mountains and saw just how gorgeous the view had become as we got higher and higher. Scott wanted to catch the sunset from where we were exactly because it seemed almost perfect since we had gotten up a little higher, we could see a lot of the valley from above including the Sand Dunes. As the sun was descending in the distance, the mountains and clouds began to form a beautiful scene filled with oranges, pinks, and purples. The great thing about this road, was that since Scotty’s Castle was closed during our visit, no cars were really driving on it, so we had this LONG open highway with a gorgeous view of the park below all to ourselves. We watched the sunset here and set up the camera for a time-lapse of the beautiful purple sky melting into a fading orange, it wasn’t a planned spot but definitely one we would recommend and come back to.
5.) Dante’s View
Dante’s View was one spot that we had planned on visiting for sunset and it definitely lived up to the hype that we had read about it online. After about a 45 minute drive from the valley floor, we reached the viewpoint’s parking lot which was basically right at the edge of the mountain. You can take in the view from the parking lot, or walk as far as you would like along the ridge of the mountain to get an amazing, panoramic view of the valley floor and Badwater Basin below. One thing we noticed here, was that since the sun sets on the far side of the valley, and falls behind the massive mountains in the distance, everything in the valley is covered in shade significantly earlier than when the sun actually sets. So in order to get some dramatic images of the golden sunlight hitting the valley floor, plan on arriving at this spot about an hour before the sun actually sets. However, even if you arrive after the sun is hidden behind the mountains, you can still hang around to see some of the best stars in North America on a clear, moonless night.
We hope you enjoyed this post, if you want to check out our full write up about our trip to Death Valley, you can find it here 🙂