Guide to the Top Photo Spots in Death Valley National Park
From personal experience, these locations in Death Valley National Park are the best for landscape photography. I also offer my thoughts on when are the best times of the year to be there to capture the best possible photographs.
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Death Valley National Park is one of those locations that when you first hear about it for photography the immediate reaction can be one of skepticism. Could a barren desert be that interesting? Upon further investigation, I began to see the potential of the sand dunes, salt flats, and other formations.
Top 4 Death Valley Photo Locations
1. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
I’m not a big fan of hiking on the soft sand of the beach, but for some reason, I don’t mind hiking out into Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. I like to get out about a mile where there are fewer plants and the dunes are a little larger. I recommend starting out in the dark before dawn. If I’m going out in strong winds, I minimize my gear, wear ATV goggles and only take my camera out of the bag for as short of time as possible and try to keep my back to the wind. It’s a little stressful, but it is quite rewarding.
2. Badwater Basin
The formations in the salt of Badwater Basin are pretty amazing. For this location, I tend to go out at the end of the day for the sunset in the west. The formations in the sand are cleaner the further you walk out, so it is just a matter of preference how far you want to go. Some of the closer in formations in the salt can be a little gnarly, but they’re kind of cool too. If the clouds are looking good, it becomes a serious contender for your time at the end of the day.
3. The Racetrack
The mysterious “moving rocks” are a blast to play with photographically. The road out there can be rough and will cut normal tires easily. I strongly recommend renting a jeep with beefed-up tires. You can rent one for 24 hours and cover both sunset and sunrise. If the playa with the rocks is wet and soft, please refrain from going out there. Footprints harden and last forever and destroy photo opportunities. It’s just simple courtesy.
4. Zabriskie Point
This very popular overlook can be crowded at both sunrise and sunset, but there are plenty of places to position yourself for a variety of compositions. The popular angle is to the west, but there are also some neat formations and colors in the dunes to the north and south. Keep your eyes open and watch what the clouds are doing.
Other Locations in Death Valley National Park
There are plenty of locations to shoot. It’s just a matter of how long you can be there. Other locations include Eureka Dunes, Twenty Mule Team Canyon, Dante’s View, Artists Palette, Panamint Dunes, and Aguereberry Point.
Best Times To Be At Death Valley National Park
Like any desert, you’ll need to shoot very early and very late. The rest of the day can be used for exploring. It is an easy place to get hooked on returning to. I highly recommend staying inside the park, so advance planning of your trip is required as rooms book up in advance. February and March are my favorite times to be there. I have found March is a good month for winds, which have a nice cleaning effect on the dunes. Always be sure to carry plenty of water.
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