OK… I know that this is probably the most photographed scene in Death Valley National Park, but there is a reason for that. Well there are actually two reasons… first of all it is relatively easy to get to, as the hordes of tourists swarming all over the overlook will confirm. Standing as a gateway to the park for many, anyone willing to walk a quarter of a mile slightly uphill on a paved path will be rewarded for their efforts. Secondly, and most importantly, it truly is a sight to behold, especially if the elements all come together for the photographer willing to get there early or stay there late.
There is a “social” trail off to the right of the parking lot that leads up onto a ridge that skirts the right hand side of this scene. This trail will offer the intrepid photographer some exceptional and less traditional views of the valley, Telescope Peak, and Manly Beacon. In the interest of being more original than most of the photographers who would set their tripods up along the ridge in front of the overlook as I did in the photograph above, Sam and I debated hiking this trail on our morning visit to this location. However, we decided since we would need to navigate the steep and narrow path up onto Red Cathedral considerably before dawn, that it would not be a great choice.
As we hung around the evening before, we saw every other person leave pretty much as soon as the sun dipped below the mountains across the valley. Apparently they weren’t aware that it was then that the light starts to get interesting.