Here is how our Zion National Park looked this winter. It is usually like that every winter, except that this winter we had a lot of snow. While I am writing this it is already 28th of March and I can still see snow powder on the slopes of Mountain. But the pictures were taken not now, but at different times in December and February. Here is the entrance to the park and the main scenic drive:
We were so happy to catch that beam of sun on the edge of the mountain:
Virgin River by the Temple of Sinawawa:
There were some bright colored ducks swimming in the river:
As every temple the Temple of Sinawawa it has an altar and a pulpit:
There was much more snow in February and those are a couple of views on the top part of the park – the Canyon Overlook trail:
We did the Artist Drive then stopped at Golden Canyon and walked up a little. Very dry, no flowers or anything, except maybe one bush. But the rocks are spectacular:
And only when we reached the Visitor’s center which is by Furnace Creek – we saw the abundance of Desert Sunflowers – the ones we were seeking…Maybe I’ll place too many pictures of them here, but I can’t help. I want to share their beauty, their ethereal nature and my big feeling of ‘Awe’ -when you think: tender lush flowers in a harsh desert environment…(but you shouldn’t think, just be present – as Eckhart Tolle advises us). This is the place where the feeling of stillness and sacredness fills the heart and there is a possibility to connect with the Great Consciousness or God…
The sun was setting, so we drove back through Furnace Creek, which is a little oasis in the valley – they have some good palm trees and look like an island of life:
And then up to Zabriskie Point. When I was young and lived in Lithuania I saw a movie by this name by Italian film director Antonioni – a very existentialist movie that was forbidden in former Soviet Union. But as the constrictions were getting looser some enthusiasts showed the movie for small audiences and I never forgot it (well, and never even for a second did I dream to see the place with my own eyes). It ends with lots of naked bodies making love on the slopes of Zabriskie Point…It is a beautiful scene, but when you see the surface and structure of those slopes in reality – as one person said – making love here would be the last thing on my mind . You can decide for yourselves…
And the sun is setting, heading home…
I highly suggest to see Death Valley NP, but not in summer. If you can’t go during the flower season which is March, warm yourselves up in winter or late fall. But if you are going for extremes – they say it feels like in a oven in summer. And I would also suggest not to take our bad example (in and out in 5 hours) and stay there at least for a night so that you could enjoy more of it and see its morning! There are many more good pictures to be made if the sun shines from different side. Best luck!
We spent 5 hours in death Valley on March 5th this year. A little too short for a drive of 5 h one way…We left Rockville, UT at 8 a.m., in 2.5 h as usual reached Las Vegas, couldn’t resist the temptation to stop at Bellagio and have one more look at the Chinese new year flower exhibit there (were not disappointed – the abundance of orchids in daylight looked fantastic!) and then proceeded to Death Valley NP by Rt. 160 which starts on the Southern part of Las Vegas. Three years ago the southern part of Death valley was especially in bloom, so we expected something close this year. We passed Pahrump on the way and it is quite a town to sleep, eat and have some fun. On the map it looks like the town we chose for sleep that night – Indian Springs and that was a mistake. We almost missed it in the dark, it had only one motel and one restaurant and because of the lack of competition – the quality was so so. Back to Death Valley. So we reached the entrance around 1 pm and at last saw some higher elevation flowers – primroses, dandelions, poppies. Not so dense, but still there were patches and it was sensitive to walk on that desert – not to step on a tiny blooming thing.
It was a perfect place for lunch among blooms. The weather was also – perfect! We left Utah at minus! 2 C and came to Death Valley at 25-30C! With the air being so dry – it the the most comfortable temp. As I mentioned -those first patches of flowers were in the elevations above 3000′ above sea level. As we started going down and down – the road twisting and going straight, still very long way, the blooms disappeared and it was only sandy – stony desert with some enduring bushes.
It is 50 mi from the South entrance to Bad Waters, so it takes a while to get there. We reached the lowest part of Western hemisphere at 2pm. It is a very pleasant atmosphere there, some good energy spread throughout Death Valley. But that is my subjective opinion, don’t take it seriously :-). At some point in Earth’s history Death valley was a long lake. Then it dried out and here we have this long and salty valley. You can walk where you want there, people have made a path where the lowest point is, ant their path is white like snow. The mud mixed with salts is constantly changing its shapes, growing. So there are some sounds of “devils playing golf” in some parts, but we didn’t hear them this time. But to walk on that salty even path to space – what a pleasure!
It is 282′ below sea level. There are no streams which would bring the water and very little rain. So we have this dry bottom of a lake, which is nice now but so terribly hot in summer. And this is how the road goes in that bottom:
Occasionally at some point we started to notice the desert sunflowers growing in a string (why in a perfect string? why only by the road? hard to know) so close to the road that people may harm them while parking…
And only by Furnace Creek and by the visitor’s center we started seeing a lot of them – worth stopping and taking pictures. But about that – next time…
We went to Yosemite NP during our December California trip – not the best time of the year…it was very cold over there and parts of the road were icy. I am sure it is so much better to see Yosemite in summer when the rest of the US is in sweltering heat. But we run a B&B and we have irrigation to do, so summers are not free for travels. And not only that – when I saw how small Yosemite canyon is, how crowded the traffic may get there in season because it is advertised as almost one of the wonders of the world…no, I don’t want to go there in summer. Getting there is such a long drive…At least two hours after you leave civilization on a winding road where you have to be really careful – parts of it are icy and the big trees are so close on both sides…We drove into the park on Rt. 120. On the way, more than 2 hours before the Yosemite Village – the views were much better, with a Tulloch lake in between rolling hills:
So much of beautiful views…Then for two hours – only big trees and dull mountain slopes. And at last – we saw those so photographed peaks, but the waterfalls were “shut off “- because of shortage of water…We did two rounds in the canyon with the expectation that we are missing something, that such an advertised park should have so much more to offer, but no. We left very disappointed, sorry for ourselves to again have to drive such a long trip from it…Besides the big trees and those 2-3 well known peaks that the park has, it has nothing extraordinary, more than our Zion NP has, and it has twice of the visitors than Zion has. Zion is a longer canyon, and it has so many more beautiful picture perfect views from any part of its scenic drive. Driving to Zion is so much shorter and much more spectacular. Oh well, the power of advertisement! At least – driving back to the central valley was much better because we took Rt.140 which took us by Merced river and it was much more pleasant.
My advice: unless you have several days to spend and a reserved room or tent in Yosemite, it is not worth going there for a short one day trip. Consider Zion NP :-). Unless it is mid summer and it is really hot.