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The desert of Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest, and lowest place in the United States. During the spring of 2005, after a fall and winter of unusually high rainfall for this desert landscape, Death Valley National Park had the most spectacular bloom of desert wildflowers seen there in an estimated fifty years. In addition to being unique for its desert conditions and photogenic scenery, Death Valley also has many minerals in abundance. Borax was discovered here, mined and refined and hauled out by twenty-mule team trains, one of which is still on display in Death Valley. There are also photogenic desert sand dunes here that stretch for miles. Also unique to Death Valley is the Playa a flat, dried lakebed famous for its mysterious moving rocks. Here, rocks that have slid down the face of the surrounding hills have mysteriously moved across the Playa, leaving the evidence of their movement in the furrows left behind. No one has ever witnessed these movements, but it is now believed that the high winds that are common here are able to move these large stones during the rare times when the Playa is wet from rain. This page has photos of Death Valley's sand dunes, the Racetrack Playa, and its mysterious moving rocks, the Devil's Playground, Keane Wonder Mine, Mosaic Canyon, Natural Bridge, Ubehebe Crater, the 2005 desert wildflower bloom, and the Twenty Mule Team Borax Wagon. For more information, see the NPS website at: Death Valley National Park. Larger versions of these Death Valley photos can be viewed by using a mouse rollover or using the Slideshow below. See all TheWorldinLight has to offer at Destinations and Topics.


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landscape photo of a field of golden wildflowers backed by mountains in Death Valley
Desert Gold
In the spring of 2005, Death Valley had the most profuse bloom of desert wildflowers seen there in more than fifty years.

a landscape photo of desert wildflowers in Death Valley National Park
Desert Bloom
This is a photograph of Death Valley National Park taken during the desert wildflower bloom of 2005.

photo of sand dunes in the desert of Death Valley
Rippling Sand
Distances are deceiving in the desert. These sand dunes were several miles from the nearest road.

photo of Death Valley during the record-setting wildflower bloom of 2005
Death Valley 2005
The desert landscape of Death Valley is the lowest, hottest, and driest place in North America. It is typically a stark place with little life revealing itself. In the spring of 2005, Death Valley had more desert wildflowers blooming than had been seen there in fifty years.

photo of sand dunes at sunset in Death Valley in California
Sand Dune Sunset
The setting sun cast an orange glow across these sand dunes in Death Valley National Park in California.

photo of the mysterious moving rocks on La Playa Racetrack in Death Valley National Park
Mysterious Rocks
These are the mysterious moving rocks of Death Valley that are found on the Racetrack Playa. The Playa is an ancient dried lakebed that is almost perfectly flat for several miles. These rocks tumble down the slopes of surrounding hills and then apparently move across the lakebed when the Playa is wet. The evidence for this is that the pattern of cracks in the mud in the wakes of these rocks is different from the pattern of cracks in the surrounding mud. Also, when dry, the mud here is too hard to leave such ruts. No one has ever seen these rocks move, but it's thought that they are blown by very strong winds racing across the Playa.

photo of the twenty-mule-team borax train in Death Valley
Twenty Mule Team
This is the twenty-mule team borax train, used to haul precious processed borax out of Death Valley in the 1800's.

picture of sand dunes in the Death Valley Desert of California
Dunes at Sunset
The sand dunes at Death Valley National Park are at their most beautiful when the sun is low, either at sunrise or at sunset.

sensual curves of sand dunes in Death Valley
Sensuous Sand
The windblown sand dunes at Death Valley sometimes take on smooth sensuous curves.

photo of a crest of a sand dune shaped like a question mark
Sand #494

nightscape photo of a moonrise over the desert in Death Valley
Moonrise Over Death Valley
While hiking out of the desert after sunset, I saw this large glow behind the mountains. It was a beautiful moonrise over Death Valley.

photo of one of the mysterious moving rocks of Death Valley
Mysterious Rocks #47
This photograph shows the mysterious moving rocks of Death Valley. These rocks, which clearly move and leave deep ruts in their wake, are located in a remote region known as the Racetrack Playa, accessible via a long drive on a 4-wheel drive road. The rocks are thought to move due to very strong winds when this ancient dried lakebed is wet from very rare periods of rain.

photo of a crest of a rock in Death Valley
Death Valley Scene #0530

photo of the rare Desert Five Spot
Desert Five Spot #0608
The Desert Five Spot doesn't blossum often in Death Valley, but in 2005, after an unusually wet winter they bloomed in profusion.

photo of the Devil's Golf Course in Death Valley
Devil's Golf Course #0540
According to the National Park Service: "On July 10, 1913 the World's hottest air temperature of 134 degrees F was recorded in Death Valley".

photo of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
Racetrack Playa #0676
The Ractrack Playa is a dried lake bed, nearly perfectly flat and smooth.

photo of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
Racetrack Playa #0679

photo of the Keane Wonder mine in Death Valley
Keane Wonder Mine #0711
The National Park Service has closed this portion of Death Valley, concerned that the mine is unsafe for visitors.

photo of a lizard in Death Valley
Zebra Tailed Lizard #0711

photo of Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon #0586
Much of Mosaic Canyon has marble walls.

photo of Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley
Mosaic Canyon #0587

photo of borax wagons in Death Valley
Mule Team Wagons #0558
These wagons are iconic for Death Valley. Teams of twenty mules were used to haul these wagons loaded with borax out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889.

photo of the Natural Bridge in Death Valley
Natural Bridge #0692
There's a short trail that leads to this enormous natural stone bridge.

photo of the Natural Bridge in Death Valley
Natural Bridge #0693

photo of Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley
Ubehebe Crater #0625
This volcanic crater is a half-mile across and about 600 feet deep.

photo of wild donkeys
Wild Donkeys #0687
The wild donkeys were common around Death Valley until 2009 when they were deemed a nuisance and collected and moved a hundred miles away.

photo of a wildflower in Death Valley
Caltha-leaf Phacelia #0519

photo of Teakettle Junction in Death Valley
Teakettle Junction #0641

photo of a wildflower in Death Valley
Gravel Ghost Wildflower #0522

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Robert D. Stephens
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All photographs are the property of Robert Stephens and TheWorldinLight Photographic Gallery. Unauthorized reproduction or use is prohibited by US copyright law.