Furnace Creek Area
Harmony Borax Works (50 miles from Panamint Springs Resort)– a rock-salt landscape as tortured as you’ll ever find. Death Valley prospectors called borax “white gold,” and though it wasn’t exactly a glamorous substance, it was profitable. From 1883 to 1888, more than 20 million pounds (used to make laundry detergent) were transported from the Harmony Borax Works, and borax mining continued in Death Valley until 1928. A short trail with interpretive signs leads past the ruins of the old refinery and some outlying buildings. Transport of the borax was the stuff of legends, too. The famous 20-mule teams hauled the huge loaded wagons 165 miles to the rail station at Mojave. To learn more about this colorful era, visit the Borax Museum at Furnace Creek Ranch and the park visitor center, also located in Furnace Creek.
Badwater (70 miles from Panamint Springs Resort) – at 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere — is possibly the hottest place in the world, with regularly recorded summer temperatures of 120°F (49°C). Badwater is mostly a curiosity, and not that much hotter or more brutal than the rest of Death Valley; most folks like to make a brief detour to see the otherworldly landscape and say they were there.
Salt Creek – (45 miles from Panamint Springs Resort) is home to the Salt Creek pupfish, found nowhere else on earth. The little fish, which has made amazing adaptations to survive in this land, can be glimpsed from a boardwalk nature trail. In spring a million pupfish wriggle in the creek, but by summer’s end only a few thousand remain.
Zabriskie Point – (65 miles from Panamint Springs Resort) Before sunrise, photographers set up tripods at Zabriskie Point and aim their cameras down at the magnificent panoramic view of Golden Canyon’s pale mudstone hills and the great valley beyond. For another spectacular vista, check out Dante’s View, a 5,475-foot viewpoint overlooking the shimmering Death Valley floor, backed by the high Panamint Mountains.
Artist’s Drive – (60 miles from Panamint Springs Resort) South of Furnace Creek is the 9-mile loop of Artist’s Drive, an easy must-see for visitors (except those in RVs, which can’t negotiate the sharp, rock-bordered curves in the road). From the highway, you can’t see the splendid palette of colors splashed on the rocks behind the foothills; once inside, though, stop and climb a hill that offers an overhead view, and then continue through to aptly named Artist’s Palette, where an interpretive sign explains the source of nature’s rainbow.