Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Death Valley Adventure - Day 3 - Zabriskie Point, Tatooine, and Dante's View

[Composed 11/23/2023]

We started our day with a sunrise at Zabriskie Point. The view epitomizes the area's badlands moniker, as the scene is a sea of khaki shades without a spec of green. The phrase other-wordly comes to mind, so it's no surprise that in 1977, this area was used to film Luke Skywalker's desert home planet of Tatooine. While Zabriskie Point didn't make the film, many of the locations nearby did.

From the Zabriskie Point parking lot, we started a hike that was supposed to lead us to Golden Canyon and ultimately to Red Cathedral. This section of the hike traverses a set of barren ridges, which due to their exposed nature, tickled my fear of heights. We made it partially along the connector trail to Golden Canyon trail before I was like, OK I get the point this isn't for me. We hiked out the way we came, and decided Red Cathedral would have to wait for another adventure.

Geologically, every aspect of this area is fascinating, from the mountains in the panoramic views, to the tiny mineral and rock formations we passed while hiking. I'm guessing these are the result of wind, water and a whole lot of time.

My disappointment about bailing on our hike was quickly erased, as we found ourselves engrossed in new views a few mile up the road on Twenty Mule Team Canyon road. Unlike Zabriskie Point or yesterday's visit to Artists Pallet (where R2 was schleped by Jawas to their sandcrawler!) we had Twenty Mule Team Canyon road to ourselves. We made our way along the narrow road at sandcrawler speed, stopping frequently to capture photos. I can see why this road makes the list of hidden gems throughout the park, as it's accessible yet easy to pass by.

Twenty Mule Team Canyon road was used to film R2 and C3P0's approach to Jaba's lair in Return of the Jedi:

While I didn't remember that scene, one that closely follows is etched forever on my brain: the escape from the Sarlacc Pit. I remember being on the edge of my seat as a kid, wondering how on Earth Luke Skywalker was going to save the day. Watching the scene to day, I see cheesy dialog and clunky choreography. But at the time, it could not have been more sophisticated and epic. Good times!

From Twenty Mule Team Canyon Road, we made our way to Dante's View. I was on the fence about heading out to Dante's View. At nearly an hour away, I worried that we'd drive the hour, step out of the car and see a nice but not unique view. Was it really going to be worth it?

Oh man, was it ever. The view from Dante's View is staggeringly beautiful. The temporary lake that we'd visited the day before was on full display. We saw tiny specs in the valley below and realized those were tourists exploring the lake like we had done the day before. Dante's View is 100% worth the drive.

Continuing on the theme of Star Was, Dante's View is used in Episode IV when Obi Wan famously looks out at Mos Eisley space port and utters: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy:

In truth, he's looking out over Furnace Creek, where we were staying. Perhaps he was thinking of our hosts and their 'all you can eat buffet'.

Up next, we're hoping to explore two additional canyons and then we have to figure out how we're going to have a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

No comments:

Post a Comment