Artist Drive And Palette, Death Valley
GPS: 36.329738°, -116.829717°
The turnoff for the start of Artist’s Drive is located nine miles south of Furnace Creek on Badwater Road. Vehicles over 25 feet long are prohibited on Artist’s Drive because there are some tight corners.
The drive is a one-way paved road traveling from south to north. The 9-mile drive climbs above Badwater Road for an impressive perspective on Death Valley below. There are plenty of turnouts to allow visitors to get out of the car and take pictures.
The premier stop along the drive is Artist’s Palette. Turn off the drive and into the Artist’s Palette parking lot. Steps from the lot lead down to a narrow wash. Cross the wash and make your way toward the colored mountainside. The eye-popping reds, yellows, greens, blues, and purples of the rainbow bands that color the soil resemble a grand painters palette. After enjoying the vivid hills, Artist’s Drive will loop back on Badwater Road.
Artist's Drive rises up to the top of an alluvial fan fed by a deep canyon cut into the Black Mountains. Artist's Palette is an area on the face of the Black Mountains noted for a variety of rock colors. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (iron compounds produce red, pink and yellow, decomposition of tuff-derived mica produces green, and manganese produces purple).
Called the Artist Drive Formation, the rock unit provides evidence for one of the Death Valley area's most violently explosive volcanic periods. The Miocene-aged formation is made up of cemented gravel, playa deposits, and volcanic debris, perhaps 5,000 feet (1500 m) thick. Chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration cause the oxidation and other chemical reactions that produce the variety of colors displayed in the Artist Drive Formation and nearby exposures of the Furnace Creek Formation.
This text taken in part from Artist Drive and Palette by multiply authors and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License