Death Valley National Park: Part 5
A few weeks ago I completed my work at Death Valley National Park in California and am now back in my Ohio studio. I returned home with fond memories, a broken camera lens, and several dozen black and white photos that will need to be developed and printed in the darkroom.
Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
~ Confucius. (Chinese teacher & philosopher, 551-479 BC)
In preparing for my trip to Death Valley I spent weeks researching and reading over two dozen
books and maps about the park, its history and its geology. And now, after my experience there, here is a list of the resources that I found most helpful and which I can highly recommend in case you plan to visit.
BOOKS & MAPS
|The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park
by T. Scott Bryan
Best Overall Book: I discovered this book just before leaving for the park and wish I had known about it even sooner. Of the many travel books that I read about Death Valley, this was the most helpful and informative of them all. It covers an extensive variety of topics about the park, its Native American history and history of prospectors and miners, information on its plants and wildlife and detailed descriptions on most sections of the park including maps showing point to point distances.
|Best Easy Day Hikes
by Bill Cunningham & Polly Cunningham.
Best Hiking Book: If you enjoy walking or hiking to experience the land and nature close-up, this is a great book to carry with you. The 112 page easy to read guide contains clear descriptions and well illustrated maps on twenty different easy/moderate hiking trails within the park. “Best Easy Day Hikes” is a great starting place for anyone interested in exploring more of the park than from what you can view from a car or designated park overlook.
|Death Valley National Park Adventure Set
by National Geo. Maps & Waterford Press
This newly published packaged set contains two books in one. The first is the excellent National Geographic Trails Map of the park (described below and which I highly recommend). Also included is a “Pocket Naturalist Guide” with indepth information about the plants found within this region of California.
|California Atlas & Gazetteer
Published by DeLorme
If you’ll be hiking, driving or exploring areas of California other than within the park this DeLorme Gazetteer is THE map resource to have. Printed on 11×15.5″ paper, it is an excellent resource for trip planning or for spur of the moment exploration. This atlas contains a whopping 160 pages of highly detailed maps with each map covering an area of roughly 30 by 45 miles (48-72 km). These maps identify major highways, roadways, rivers and streams as well as topographic features to help you navigate the terrain. I rely on these great atlases from DeLorme for all my photo assignments and can highly recommend them.
|Death Valley National Park: A History
by Hal Rothmans and Char Miller
Best History Book on the Park: Before arriving at any national park or forest I learn as much as possible about the history of the area, its people and about how/why the park was established. Knowing these things are important because they help me to understand features of the past geology, people, cultures and social/political conditions that aid me in looking more deeply at a park and inform my photography.
|Trails Illustrated: Death Valley National Park Map (#221)
Published by National Geographic
Best Map: From many years spent hiking and photographing America’s national parks and its backcountry, I’ve always found the Trails Illustrated series from National Geographic to be the most detailed, helpful and informative maps available. Published on a tear-proof and resistant paper that can be folded and unfolded repeatedly, this full color 4×9″ (folded size) map unfolds to a very useful and easy to read 28×32″ size. In addition to roads and trails, the map identifies campsites and additional points of interest in and around the park.
Other Suggested Reading
Photograph America Newsletter is the best photo-location resource guide around. Bob Hitchman has written this 12-page newsletter four times a year since 1989. Each issue includes great suggestions on photo locations, driving/hiking tips and beautiful photographs of the area. I’ve relied on Bob’s newsletters for years to help plan a trip before I arrive and highly recommend it to photographers and tourists alike. Click here to visit the Photograph America website and Bob’s issue on this park.