Death Valley National Park in California is a place of extremes. Known as the hottest place on Earth, it is also among the driest. And in the winter it can get quite cold, with snow covering the mountain tops surrounding the valley. One of the most visited overlooks in the park is Zabriskie Point, part of the Amargosa Range forming the eastern boundary of the valley.
While today the area around Zabriskie Point is weathered badlands, it was once at the bottom of ancient Furnace Creek Lake. Muds and gravels washed down from the surrounding mountains, and ash from the Black Mountain volcanic field made up the sediments collecting on the bottom, which today we recognize as the Furnace Creek Formation. As the climate changed as a result of mountain building to the west, the lake dried up, and in the process the intrusion of mineral-rich hot spring waters contributed to the formation of borates, and the colors that we see in these titled and eroded sediments today.
In today’s photo you can see the golden yellow ridges of the eroded lakebed sediments, and in the background the dark cap rock is lava from eruptions that occurred three to five million years ago. Like much of Death Valley, Zabriskie Point presents an almost lunar landscape here on Earth.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF17-40 mm f/4L USM lens zoomed to 40 mm and attached to a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III. The exposure was set to 1/350 sec. at f/9.5 and ISO 800.