Hiking: Death Valley offers more than name suggests

First-time visitors to California’s Death Valley National Park can enjoy multiple hikes and points of interest within a few days.

Artist’s Drive provides a look at marvelously colorful landscape on the western edge of the Black Mountains. A nine-mile drive takes visitors through an explosion of colors, featuring mountains that are red, pink, yellow, green, and purple. There are multiple places to stop and walk around and admire the geology, including the notable Artists Palette, an especially colorful viewpoint.

Just south of Artist’s Drive, Badwater Basin marks the lowest dry elevation in North America at 279 feet below sea level. Hikers here enjoy a short out-and-back walk on the large salt flat where a lake existed thousands of years ago. Only a shallow pond of very salty water remains, hence the basin’s name.

Dantes View affords one of the most dramatic and rewarding views of Death Valley, and terrific sunset photography. Visitors can reach it simply by driving to the end of Dantes View Road. Those slightly more ambitious can hike about a quarter mile to the north to summit Dantes Peak.

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