Artist Drive is perhaps one of the most popular and scenic drives through a colorful palette of geology, located in Death Valley National Park, California. Artist drive is a one way road about nine miles long which takes just about two hour to complete provided you take the time to hike a few of the short trails. The road is a popular destination for hikers and bikers as well as motor vehicles. From the drivers perspective, the road can be quite fun to drive and it twists and turns up and down the colorful hillside.
The hills which contain burst of color were formed by volcanic deposits of different compounds such as iron oxides and chlorite, which creates a rainbow effect of color. There is no bad time to visit, however, the photographer will appreciate the warm afternoon sunlight enhancing the natural colors in the soil. The best features are on a westward facing slope which really benefits from the late hours in the day.
While the colors of the location are amazing, do not forget to turn around the allow the scenic vistas of Death Valley to take your breath away. On a visit during a three day weekend in February 2022, I was surprised by the volume of people on the route. All of the parking lanes were full and it became quite difficult photographically due to the visitors. I will say, that during this time the COVID pandemic was relaxing and it was really nice seeing people enjoying themselves outside.
Prior to becoming a National Park, Assist’s Drive and some of the nearby valley’s were a filming location for the movie Star Wars.