Today we broke out our gravel bikes and road to the top of Dantes view. The road climbs from around 2,000 feet to 5,476 feet. The max grade was 16% and on a cross bike that was tough. The view at the top of Badwater Basin is highly photographed and snowy Telescope Peak looked awesome. Dantes View got its name back in 1962 when Nevada Governor Scrugham visited at the advice of a prominent Shoshone, CA citizen who told him the view was one that made him stop and look. The men named it based on Dante’s trip through purgatory as befits Death Valley’s other namesakes of Devils Golf Course Coffin Peak, and Funeral Mountains.
282 below sea level! This place is the lowest point in all of North America. We did a short walk out to the vast salt flats to look around. It got its name after a man’s burro wouldn’t drink the salty water. Appropriately, the man named it Badwater. Rainstorms flood the area periodically and when the water evaporates, salt flats remain.
Artist’s Palette is a one way scenic drive. We originally intended to do this as a ride, but the winds were gusting up to 30mph that day so we opted to drive. The mountain sides along the road are a colorful spectrum of pastel colors due to chemical weathering and oxidation of different metals in the soil. Mixes of minerals cause rock rainbows of different colors, referred to as Artist’s Pallet. The red/orange is hematite; yellow is limonite; green/blue is chlorite and nontronite and purple is created by manganese.