When I checked the NPS road conditions page on Sunday night it said that the way to Dante’s View was now open! I have been up to Dante’s view before, and though it is a very impressive sight, the real reason we were so happy was that we would finally be able to see somewhere new!
We set the alarm for 5:00am, planning on making the 40 minute drive to high above the park. We packed all of our belongings and left the valley floor for the last time, excited to be able to check out a place that had previously been inaccessible during our stay. We passed by the dark and deserted Zabriskie Point parking lot, and accelerated on up Route 190 toward the Dante’s View turnoff. Imagine our disappointment when we got there to find that the road was still closed higher up where the snow and ice was.
We had discussed this possibility, and immediately switched to Plan B – to re-visit Zabriskie Point and spend some time among the tourists. At least this time we might get some nice light, since the skies overhead were filled with fast-moving and dappled clouds.
Before dawn the light was really cool, though our concern was that the clouds were actually moving too fast. As they raced across the sky from right to left, it soon became obvious that they were not going to sync with the sunrise as we had hoped. As always, being in a place as beautiful as this was reason enough to celebrate, so we chilled with the other 13 tripods and 50+ tourists and enjoyed the muted but pleasant show. I tried a couple of longer exposures using a 6-stop ND filter, trying to deepen the colors and capture some of the feeling of movement in the sky.
When we thought the best of the light had come and gone, we packed up our gear and made the short climb out of the valley. It was with mixed emotions that we said goodbye to Death Valley, a place that gave us so much in the short time we were there. Definitely a place to return to someday, we were also anxious to start our journey back home to be with Lori and Jack.