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Showing posts with the label Death Valley National Park

Celebrating the Desert Protection Act

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Senator Dianne Feinstein's California Desert Protection Act (CDPA) was signed into law 20 years ago on October 31, 1994, establishing new protections for vast stretches of the desert.  The CDPA established 69 new Wilderness areas,  created the Mojave National Preserve, converted Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Monuments into National Parks, and added acreage to both parks.

Watching the sun set in a remote corner of the Mojave forges a connection between me and generations past, and it would be nice to know that future generations will share the same natural heritage.  Witnessing mountain shadows gently stretch across miles of open desert, hearing coyotes howl at twilight as bats flutter by, and being immersed in an infinite blanket of stars overhead are some of the treasured experiences you can have in the desert. 

These experiences are increasingly threatened, however, as cities sprawl outward, new major highways threaten to slice across the landscape, and transmission li…

Mesquite Flat Dunes

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I have to admit I was surprised to see so many footsteps in the sand at the Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley National Park.  One usually thinks of waves of sand arranged only by the wind and small critters that emerge after sundown when the surface is cooler.  But the Mesquite Flat Dunes are right there by Stovepipe Wells, and irresistible to travelers motoring through the park. A short walk from the parking lot and you can be in the middle of an iconic feature of any desert - sand dunes.


I traveled through the park with my friend Jimmy, and caught a glimpse of the dunes at sunset, with the beautiful hues of purple, brown and red of the sky and sand all seeming to blend together.  As we pulled up, headlights were streaming out of the parking lot as folks left for their camping spot or lodge before it got too dark.

The next morning we hiked into the dunes for sunrise.  What a beloved landscape -- with the steps of its admirers from the day before still evident, you could see a dozen…