Dramatic views and geological history – Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

Dramatic views and geological history – Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

Location:    Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek Area

Round Trip:    2.9 miles from Golden Canyon

GPS Coordinates:    N 36 25.258 W 116 48.578

Death Valley National Park is a 3.4 million acre park that is the largest park in the contiguous states of the USA.  This unusual valley is surrounded by steep mountain ranges. There are the Panamint Mountains to the west, and the Black, Funeral, and Grapevine Mountains to the east. Its highest point is Telescope Peak, at 11,049 feet.

Death Valley National Park is one of the hottest places in the whole world and the lowest point in North America at Badwater, which is 282 feet below sea level.  Death Valley receives less than two inches of rainfall a year, because it is located in a rain shadow from the four major mountain ranges between it and the ocean, and the valley is known as one of the hottest and driest place in North America. Summer temperatures can often reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

The valley is a geological miracle that reveals facts and examples of different geological eras. Zabriskie Point is the most famous and dramatic Death Valley viewpoint. This scenic overlook gives you a great view of a large area of badlands, rock formations that have been severely eroded over millions of years.

About 9 million years ago there was a lake that covered most of the Death Valley’s territory, including the lands near Zabriskie Point. During the existence of the lake different sediments, such as gravels from the mountains, saline mud, and ashfall from an active at that time volcano were collecting at the bottom of the ancient lake.

The climate changed, became more arid and caused the ancient lake to dry up. A beautiful playa was created as a result. At the same time the uplift of the Black Mountains and sinking and widening of the Death Valley as well as the erosion processes changed the landscape and created the badlands that we admire today.

The famous overlook was built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company and was named in honor of Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, a vice president and general manager of the company, who served this company for 36 years until his retirement.

To reach the overlook, you must take a short hike up the hill. Experienced hikers and rangers recommend visiting Zabriskie Point in the late afternoon or early in the morning, when the sun sets and rises, it adds magic golden colors to the rocks. Hikers may also choose a longer hike along the Golden Canyon Trail. This is a very picturesque and interesting 2.9-mile hike that will reveal lots of geological secrets. It starts at Zabriskie Point and goes down to Gower Gulch, passes Manly Beacon and brings hikers to the stunning Golden Canyon.

Photo: Roman Khomlyak
Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska
Information: Marina Petrova

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