Ron Hanko's photos
These Barrel Cacti grow much larger than this, especially in some areas growing to a height of several feet. We photographed them on the second day of our stay in Death Valley National Park along the Racetrack Valley Road where we had stopped to explore a cliffside covered with these and other cacti. None were in flower at this location but we would see them in flower elsewhere.
This is one more shot from Titus Canyon in Death Valley and the beginning of our trip through southern California, Nevada, and Utah. The photo was taken by my wife and shows our minivan in one of the narrowest and deepest parts of the canyon. The photo was taken at noon when the light was just beginning to penetrate the canyon and gives a sense of the immensity and loneliness of the place.
This year was a very poor year for wildflowers in the desert southwest. Nevertheless we saw many different varieties and found enough to photograph. This common wildflower is the desert sunflower, Geraea canescens, which during superbloom years covers huge areas with its beautiful blossoms.
A playa is a desert basin that periodically fills with water to form a shallow lake. This playa lies nearly thirty miles off the beaten track in northern Death Valley. It is called the Racetrack because stones from the surrounding mountains mysteriously move across the playa when it is wet leaving the tracks of their movement (see inset). Actually it is no longer mysterious since someone figured out that it was the wind which moved the stones across the mud. Appropriately, the rocky formation out in the…
Teakettle Junction is in Death Valley at the junction of the Racetrack Playa Road and the Hunter Valley Road and at an elevation of over 4000 feet. Visitors often leave teakettles with messages inscribed on them, but visiting the place requires some effort since the junction lies 20 miles down a very rough road that is better accessed with four-wheel drive vehicles.
In Death Valley National Park we first followed Scotty's Castle Road north to the end and to Ubehebe Crater. Then we headed back south on the Racetrack Valley Road, another rough, unpaved road. We saw a lot of cacti along the road and at higher elevations began to see Joshua Trees, whole forests of them, some of them oddly shaped.
After driving through Titus Canyon, a drive that took us about six hours because of the rough roads, we started north on the Scotty's Castle Road, where my wife spotted a blooming Cholla among the many plants that were not in bloom. This is one of the Jumping Cholla,so-called in reference to the sections of the cactus which separate easily and just as easily attach to skin and shoes.
Titus Canyon View
This is another view of Titus Canyon, this from one of the higher elevations in the canyon. Death valley seems a long time ago now though it was only last week. We are now further south in California and have spent the last four days at Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.