Photos of Artist Drive in Death Valley National Park
Not too far down the road from the Furnace Creek Inn Resort is a winding road leading into the canyons called Artist Drive. Many types of minerals such as decomposing mica, manganese, and iron salt deposits color the igneous rock, which explodes in brilliant hues. It’s one of those passages through an incredible place when you say out loud it just can’t get any better than it already is and then you turn a corner to say it again. My passenger side car door was covered in dusty footprints left by me kicking the door open with my right foot to get out to snap a series of photos. No time to fuss around with door handles when the sun is in the right position, lending its rays, if only temporarily for a few minutes to capture.
It’s surprising when you consider the fact that Death Valley, to most people, conjures up an image of an unforgiving place where death rules big time. My husband spotted an old 1930’s postcard asking the viewer to consider taking a vacation in hell (AKA Death Valley), suggesting that we might be heading there anyway but it’s a good idea to get a sneak preview of what lies in store for us. To the Native Americans, the Timbisha Shoshone, who arrived in Death Valley over a thousand years ago, it must be very disconcerting to hear your place of birth, where you were raised and still reside, honoring your ancestors and living out your normal day-to-day life, referred to as hell or even Death Valley, for that matter.
But that’s what we Americans do. Seize land, rename it and carry on as though nobody was ever there before us, among other atrocities such as trying to strip heritage from the original residents, enslaving, beating, berating, all of those shameful things our country was founded upon.
To put into perspective, how would you like to wake up in Sacramento one morning to discover the name of your town has been changed to Shithole? And from now on, the Klingons are in power and run our town. Some residents, I venture to guess, would argue that’s the way things are in Sacramento every day, so they won’t agree with the irony.
Ah, but there is Artist Drive, and as we were halfway through the canyon, we were stopped by a police car and a bunch of guys from a filming crew. They were shooting a commercial for the Nissan Leaf, an electric car. Cars were backed up down the road waiting for the film crew to finish. The guys with the cameras were joking and laughing about the hold up, but this was a major interruption for those of us who pay for our national park. We had to sit in our cars and try to show “understanding” while commerce took precedence.
Below are photos of Artist Drive in Death Valley National Park, by Elizabeth Weintraub: