It was just a unpaved road that took us out into the salt flats of Death Valley but West Side Road was my favorite stop as we made our way around this strange and beautiful environment! We passed this road on our way south to other points of interest but when we returned
we were not disappointed. Due to rains that had recently fallen in the area, the salt in the other areas we visited had not formed into the distinctive octagonal shapes that salt makes as it dries. But on West Side Road, we found a huge expanse of these crystalline formations.
Even though it looks delicate, over most of the area the footing was very stable. Kneeling to get a different perspective was a whole different situation! Fortunately, we brought along thick towels to use to kneel on. The salt crystals are hard and sharp!
As the salt dries, the octagons are formed and the edges push up to form ridges some of which were several inches high! The salt flats are rejuvenated by the spring rains and the patterns in the salt showed where the water had flowed most recently.
While everyone else was looking down at the salt formations, I noticed that the cool cloud shapes we had seen earlier in the day were getting even more spectacular. The high winds had not subsided throughout the whole time we were in Death Valley and in combination with the heat (103 degrees) and the cooler mountains the conditions were perfect to form this lenticular cloud formation. Using my trusty Nikon 16-35mm lens I was able to capture the vastness of the salt flat below the immense cloud formation above!
Our intrepid leader had done some checking and found out that the moon would be full & rising over the the mountains not too late that night so after checking out a couple of other spots in Death Valley, we came back to West Side Road for the moon rise.
Once the full moon was up, I turned the camera around and did a long exposure of the mountains “behind” us and got one of my favorite images of the trip!
Yes, this is night… see the stars? This was a 20 second exposure with only the light of the full moon lighting the landscape! I was so surprised when I saw this on my computer screen!
It’s just a side road off the main paved road through Death Valley but you should definitely take a trip down it and see this unique landscape.
To see the original images and more from West Side Road please visit my gallery.
That is all for now!