ADVICE-Death Valley jan 13-18
/forum/topic/1179354/0



aFeinberg
Registered: Mar 15, 2006
Total Posts: 4182
Country: United States

Ok...soooooooooo....

I'm kinda going in blind. Have a jeep...and I'm comfortable sleeping in it. Have camping gear as well. What hubs am I looking at for supplies? Spots to start at? Thinking race track for sure and badwater for patterns?

I'm all ears though!

THANKS!

aF



gdanmitchell
Registered: Jun 28, 2009
Total Posts: 8986
Country: United States

Is this your first time in DEVA?

Frankly, I'd start with some icons - Zabriskie at dawn, Badwater, Mesquite Dunes (at Stovepipe), maybe Titus Canyon, some of the accessible canyons like Golden, Marble, and so forth. I suppose that the Racetrack is iconic - but I no longer go all the way out there unless the conditions suggest the possibility of something very special.

Really understanding the more out-of-the-way places comes with further experience with the place, and getting to them at the best times often depends a fair amount on personal familiarity with the rhythms of the place.

Your most likely places for supplies in and around the park are Furnace Creek (the largest center in the park), Stovepipe Wells (a bit more limited, but less expensive gas, at least in the past), and the town of Beatty, Nevada outside the park to the east. If you are coming in from Southern California you might stop in Ridgecrest on the way in via the Trona Route, or if you come in from the west you can hit places like Lone PIne, Big Pine, or even Bishop along US 395.

Dan



aFeinberg
Registered: Mar 15, 2006
Total Posts: 4182
Country: United States

Awesome...will start pinning my maps. And coming to and from Vegas. First time to the area Pretty freakin stoked. Dunes and racetrack are pretty much my goals.

Thanks for the help Dan!



Ben Horne
Registered: Jan 10, 2002
Total Posts: 11710
Country: United States

aFeinberg wrote:
Ok...soooooooooo....

I'm kinda going in blind. Have a jeep...and I'm comfortable sleeping in it. Have camping gear as well. What hubs am I looking at for supplies? Spots to start at? Thinking race track for sure and badwater for patterns?

I'm all ears though!

THANKS!

aF


Dude, I'll be missing you by just 2 days. I'm there starting the 20th. Otherwise I'd show you some of my favorite places.



gdanmitchell
Registered: Jun 28, 2009
Total Posts: 8986
Country: United States

By the way, doesn't look like I'll make it out there this year until the end of March, most likely.

Dan



Fred Miranda
Registered: Dec 31, 2001
Total Posts: 17685
Country: United States

Ben Horne wrote:
aFeinberg wrote:
Ok...soooooooooo....

I'm kinda going in blind. Have a jeep...and I'm comfortable sleeping in it. Have camping gear as well. What hubs am I looking at for supplies? Spots to start at? Thinking race track for sure and badwater for patterns?

I'm all ears though!

THANKS!

aF


Dude, I'll be missing you by just 2 days. I'm there starting the 20th. Otherwise I'd show you some of my favorite places.


Don't fall into that trap. Ben just wants you to help carrying his gear!!!



kurt765
Registered: Jan 19, 2006
Total Posts: 621
Country: United States

Supply hubs (groceries, gas) are Furnace Creek for lower DV (Dante's View, Zabriskie Point, Devil's Golf Course, West Side Road, Artists Pallette, Badwater, Salt Creek, Mustard Canyon, 20 Mule Team Canyon). Stovepipe Wells for middle DV - (Mesquite Dunes, Devils Golf Course, Salt Creek, Titus Canyon, Ubehebe, Racetrack, Mosaic Canyon) and Big Pine, CA for North DV (Eureka Dunes, Saline Valley).

All those places I mentioned are worth checking out. Saline Valley and the Eureka Dunes would be dedicated trips, the former I would recommend doing with a group of vehicles for safety reasons and is some off-roading to get around there due to washouts.

A year ago I gave some good friends a personal tour of Death Valley. We went to Badwater, Zabriskie Point, Dante's View, 20 Mule Team Canyon, the Mesquite Dunes, Mosaic Canyon and the Racetrack in the course of 3 days and that gave a good first taste of what the park can have to offer.

You'll probably fall in love with it as I did in 2008. I can't get bored there in that park. I love it. You can see 310 pics of mine from there here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kurtlawson/sets/72157611488958316/
I try to go back there whenever I can during the November-April time frame when it's not too hot.

Keep in mind that park regulations mean you have to stay in a campground in most of the park. There's a backcountry camping map. http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/upload/Backcountry-Roads-Map.pdf
This map provides info on where you can camp without being in a campground. I've been busted before sleeping in my Xterra in an area that is not a designated campground, though there have been other times I wasn't busted when i was doing star trail photos through the night. If you're in the main park, then use a campground even if you are sleeping in your jeep.

Check the Death Valley Morning Report for road conditions:
www.nps.gov/deva/upload/Morning-Report.pdf
as well as the DV Roads facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/DeathValleyRoadConditions?ref=stream

It looks like Titus canyon is open again. It was closed for awhile due to snow. The Road from Ubehebe to the Eureka Dunes is closed still, but open from the west from Big Pine. Things can change if there is a storm so keep up to date.

Above all, enjoy the vast alien landscape that makes up this incredible treasure of a park. You can't go wrong at the dunes. Arrive early enough for evening to hike to where there are no footprints, or scout a location for morning where there are no footprints if you care about such things. Dante's View is usually worth a mid-day drive if you don't decide to be there for a magic hour session, just to appreciate the view. Zabriskie Point is full of places you can wander to that are not the exact same view everyone does. Basically, there's endless possibilities. Good luck!

-K



aFeinberg
Registered: Mar 15, 2006
Total Posts: 4182
Country: United States

Hahaha...the only thing I would carry of Ben's is the scotch And that does suck...2 days....I say go early and meet me out there.

Thanks Kurt for the detail! I think we should make these kinds of things sticky for the popular destinations so we dont have to keep posting the same info. Fred? Jim?

Now to bookmark this page in my phone



Greg Campbell
Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Total Posts: 1280
Country: United States

IMO, the northern Black Mountains offer some of the most colorful, convenient scenes. Artist's Drive, Gower Gulch, Golden Canyon, good ol Zabriskie (Ugh! There are 'icons' ... and there are clichés! ), Desolation Canyon, 20-mule-team, the badlands between ZP and GC/GG, and many more are all within a short distance of Furnace Creek. All provide unique, photogenic shots. Some hiking required, none of it wildly difficult.

If I must use the dreaded 'must see' phrase, I'd apply it to the Titus Canyon drive. Aim for low light angles to best highlight the rugged mountains. High noon there (as with much of DV) may be disappointing, depending on the weather.

The more narrow slot-like canyons can look good near mid-day. Try Grotto and Golden canyons, where the reflected light can be gorgeous.

As always, I gotta _strongly_ suggest you get the Digonnet book ASAP. It will take a week to digest! http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Death-Valley-Natural-Wonders/dp/0965917800

If the skies are clear, plan to get up very early and shoot in the pre-dawn light. Once the sun pops up, the landscape can become terribly harsh. Pay attention to the weather forecast - a few clouds can make all the difference!

If you're headed for the Racetrack, plan to spend the night.



Kee Woo Rhee
Registered: Dec 25, 2011
Total Posts: 2297
Country: United States

All of the above information is of a great value to me. I visited the park last November but I have another schedule set for this February 6-19. Death valley is in my mind. I also want to visit Valley of Fire, Zion, and possibly Mono Lake.
-Kee



kurt765
Registered: Jan 19, 2006
Total Posts: 621
Country: United States

You're welcome.

You can still get interesting shots in mid-day "harsh" light, especially in Death Valley's canyons. My favorite shots I've made in Mosaic Canyon were in "harsh" light, when reflected light penetrates down into the narrows. I typically will shoot somewhere for morning magic hour, then eat a quick breakfast. The daylight hours are then spent exploring new places, scouting, hiking around looking for ideas. Then an evening magic hour somewhere. Then dinner, and then perhaps some night photography at a predetermined place. Insert lunch in there somewhere. Watch under your feet too. Sometimes DV yields interesting details that you might pass over if you're just looking at the huge expanse that is i the park.

You'll probably do quite a bit of driving. The park is HUGE. Make sure you allot time for driving, and always make sure you've got plenty of gas and especially water.

-K



gdanmitchell
Registered: Jun 28, 2009
Total Posts: 8986
Country: United States

Speaking of canyons and harsh midday light... I usually incorporate this into my daily planning when I shoot in DEVA. I have a very broad outline of daily plans that can work something like this:

1. Up before dawn for a very early morning shoot at one of the locations that works best in first light.
2. Off to a location that works in later morning light, such as one of the canyons.
3. Midday break to eat (sometimes for the first time that day), do camp chores, take a nap.
4. Travel to mid- of late-afternoon location, with could easily involve another canyon.
5. Shoot a sunset/dusk subject.
6. Straggle back into camp well after dark to cook in darkness and fall into my sleeping bag.

For those who don't know, canyons often are best when the sky is completely clear and the sun is high - sort of the opposite of what you might be looking for with other subjects. The clear light from higher sun hits the upper reaches of the canyon walls and bounces around to fill the canyon with soft light.

Dan



Ben Horne
Registered: Jan 10, 2002
Total Posts: 11710
Country: United States

Fred Miranda wrote:
Ben Horne wrote:
aFeinberg wrote:
Ok...soooooooooo....

I'm kinda going in blind. Have a jeep...and I'm comfortable sleeping in it. Have camping gear as well. What hubs am I looking at for supplies? Spots to start at? Thinking race track for sure and badwater for patterns?

I'm all ears though!

THANKS!

aF


Dude, I'll be missing you by just 2 days. I'm there starting the 20th. Otherwise I'd show you some of my favorite places.


Don't fall into that trap. Ben just wants you to help carrying his gear!!!


You know me too well Fred!



toddlio
Registered: Dec 22, 2011
Total Posts: 102
Country: United States

I might be out there as well on either one of those weekends, my dates sure flexible at this points long weekend in either direction. Look for a airstream trailer and a white Toyota sequoia stop by and say hello. Furnace creek campground is a great starting point, and for $5 you can swimming in the spring fed pool, pretty nice when its a litttle chilly out. I've been to dv several times but the racetrack has always eluded me. I'm going to try to hit it this trip, but I'm with Dan id like to watch and see how the weather develops.



Matt Anderson
Registered: Oct 12, 2006
Total Posts: 1107
Country: United States

Real men shoot it in June / July

Or real stupid men, hey look, a squirrel !

I personally stayed at the motel in Stove Pipe as a central base.
I'd bring a bottle of water and an energy bar.

But seriously, buy all your stuff, food, drinks, etc... at a Walmart near the airport / car rental.



aFeinberg
Registered: Mar 15, 2006
Total Posts: 4182
Country: United States

hahaha..thanks again guys

got my map loaded and will be interesting to see what i come up with.

weather wise....what kind of temps. looks like mid 30s at night? i know it's highly dependent on storms.

rock and roll!
aF



Greg Campbell
Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Total Posts: 1280
Country: United States

aFeinberg wrote:
hahaha..thanks again guys

got my map loaded and will be interesting to see what i come up with.

weather wise....what kind of temps. looks like mid 30s at night? i know it's highly dependent on storms.

rock and roll!
aF


Average low is right around 40.
http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca2319

The current GFS loop suggests that a trough will pass through the area sometime around the 13th, followed by fair weather. The 7+ day models don't always do so well, and this cooler weather may or may not arrive on schedule.... Hopefully you'll have some clouds around during some of your visit.

Have you ordered the Digonnet book yet?



Greg Campbell
Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Total Posts: 1280
Country: United States

Which direction are you coming from? There are some scenic diversions in the general are that might be worth visiting on the way...



bthebert
Registered: Mar 10, 2003
Total Posts: 159
Country: United States

If you're coming in from Las Vegas, consider Shoshone as a base camp and day-trip out of there. Shoshone offers a modest motel, a commercial campground (with a spring-fed pool) if that's your style, gas that's cheaper than inside the park, food/drink, a small grocery. There are plenty of nearby opportunities for more rustic, backcountry camping.

If you need anything that Shoshone can't provide, Pahrump (NV) is only 30 minutes away, which is trivial by DV standards. You have easy access to the Tecopa Hot Springs, the Date Ranch, Dumont Dunes, the Ibex dunes, the Wade road, Death Valley Junction (and all it entails), the entire Armagosa Valley. You can easily enter the park proper at the South end over Salisbury and Jubilee Passes, and quickly access the southern terminus of the park's "West Side Road" (consider [Striped] Butte Valley for a day-trip destination). The Greenwood Road will take you directly from Shoshone to the Dante's View Road.