Artist's Drive is a 9 mile (one way) road through Death Valley's most colorful scenery. As of November, 2004, the Artist's Drive road remained closed due to the damage from the summer floods, and was expected to stay closed for some time. But you can hike the Gower Gulch Loop from Golden Canyon and see some of this spectacular scenery from above.
Artist’s Drive is a seven mile one-way road heading south to north so it is best to drive it when heading back up Badwater Road from the basin. The highlight of the drive is Artist’s Palette; but there are several nice views along the way. The turnoff is on the east side of the road between Golden Canyon and the Devil's Golf Course. The road, although short, is skinny with lots of curves so allow plenty of time especially if you get behind a slow driver.
This is not a picture of Artist's Drive at its best - and that's because I was there in the early morning. So, the first thing I want to say, is don't visit Artist's Drive during dawn, but rather, visit during sunset when the glorious array of colors will truly dazzle.
The drive itself is narrow and no trailers or RVs are allowed to enter. Once inside, there are a few small areas to park and explore further. The most dazzling scenery is closer to the end of the short loop, so save film for that stretch. Also, in the area photographed, there are a myriad of mini caverns and caves to explore - it's a dream come true for kids - or the kid inside.
This is a nine-mile loop that lies between Golden Canyon and Devil's Golf Course. The higlight is about half way through, where you reach a colorful section of mountain area that is created by mineral deposits over the hills. There are a number of places you can pull over and view the pallete from, and there is also a small parking area that allows you to get out and get up close and personal by walking through the valley.
The only problem with this stretch is that it is very winding, so you may take quite a while to go the "mere" 9 miles. I got stuck behind two idiots on motorcycles who were taking pictures of each other while driving (at about 15 MPH) that refused to let me pass.
From artist's drive, you can reach easily artist palet. Various mineral pigments have colored these volcanic deposits. Iron salts produce the reds, pinks and yellows, decomposing micas causes the green, magnesium supplies the purple. Colors on the palette are reproduced in a larger scale on the mountains around Death Valley.
One of the many stops, Artist's Palette with different colors because of the minerals and salts. Took picture quickly and rush back into the car to avoid strong solar exposure.
There are many other vistas like the lowest point of Death Valley, the view of the valley from Dante's view and sand dunes.
There are a dozen of places to visit but it good to cool off at the Visitors Center to understand the different geological formations of this National Park. After ten minutes under the hot sun, you will understand why it is named so.
Drink plenty of water and wear a cap or hat.
The Artist's Palette is a series of colorful rock formations located along Artist's Drive south Furnace Creek. The rocks' color derived from various minerals such as copper and manganese that were contained in the rocks.
I couldn't see Artist's Drive while I was in the park this spring because the rains had washed out the road and they were working on it.
Once I got home, I had fun with digital art though. Here is a butterfly I created. I found him alongside the highway. Poor little guy was a victim of a fast driver.
The drive allows for more and more color as the road progresses. The main viewpoint is fantastic with color and will delight, even on a cloudy day such as we had. The drive is nice and narrow much of the way, keeping you close to the walls and textures of the land.
Along the way, stopping before the official overlook, I found the fairly rare desert five spot in bloom. Never know what you will find if you just get out and do it!
Artist's Drive is a sideroad that parallels the mainroad for a couple of miles (for location, see directions below).
In this area the rocks have all kinds of different colours. The most spectacular point along this Drive is Artist's Pallette, with lots of colours in the rocks.
Yes, the car in the picture was our rental car. This is what happens if you ask for a three-door car. Not bad, hey?
A colorful volcanic rock area located off the Artist Drive. Colors are produced from the various mineral pigments.
Iron salts - produce reds, pinks, yellows
Mica - green
Manganese - purple
Again, everything appeared orangy possible due to the sun setting.
Located south of Furnace Creek, this is a one-way scenic drive off Route 178. The road winds for about 6 miles through multi-hued rock formations on either side including Artist's Palette.
We visited close to sunset and everything took on an orange tinge.