- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Less than a hundred miles from the highest point in the contiguous United States, Badwater Basin in Death Valley holds the record as the lowest point in all of North America and is generally desolate save for the titular pool of salt water which is constantly evaporating.
In the arid Saline Valley known for its salt, borax, and abandoned mines, three springs surrounded by palm trees create a surreal, clothing optional oasis for the hardy souls who relish in the challenging pastime of hard desert camping.
In the Panamint Valley of the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles northeast of Bakersfield, the abandoned town of Ballarat once hustled with plenty of gold prospectors — enough people to support a stop along the Wells Fargo route, three hotels, a school and seven saloons. Today there is only a whisper of the old mining town, watched over by one guy and his dog.
Death Valley conjures images of a rugged, desolate, monochromatic landscape of sun-blasted mountains and blistering, arid valleys. Artist’s Drive, however, is a meandering road along the face of the Black Mountains that reminds visitors of the colorful, dynamic — albeit ancient and slow-moving — geological activity that shaped the area.
Beginning in 1942 the government of the United States rounded up more than 110,000 Japanese-American citizens and placed them in brutalist encampments where many spent years.
The highest point in California and the continental United States, Mount Whitney is 14,505 feet above sea level, but can be a surprisingly easy climb if you have the right permit.
Death Valley is one of the hottest, most inhospitable places in the world, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything valuable in the land. Case in point, the massive borax deposits on which the Harmony Borax Works were built, requiring an outlandish amount of mule-power to make it work.