Death Valley National Park
Another fun and accessible trail is the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. The road out to the Salt Trail is the same as you will experience throughout the park. The parking area is also dirt, sandy in spots and the normal sand traps you find in the desert. There are no restrooms, water or shade out there so come prepared. Like all agencies, and I’m not complaining here, they fall short of their intended goal in providing wheelchair access. Be prepared to endure the natural terrain to reach the trail head. For my electric wheelchair, avoiding the sandy areas was easy, but still a rocky trip to the trail head. Once on the raised wood walk you will notice a small curb on each side to keep you from visiting the ground and wide enough to turn around providing your wheelchair is less than four feet long. I do want to give National Parks a pat on the back for not adding four foot tall railings to the walk path. The openness of the walk path enabled me to experience up-close the beauty of Salt Creek. Your photographic opportunities are dependent on the time of day. Early morning and evening provides for the best light and shadows. The trail is only a mile or so long but there is plenty to see and photograph. If you are lucky you will see the salt creek pupfish. We were there late in the morning and as you can see in the photo the sky was bright blue, so I took the opportunity to photograph the specular highlights dancing on the water and a few tourist and family shots for our book. For us, we enjoyed our visit to Salt Creek. If you want to experience the beauties of the park, this should be on your things to see list.
Up the road from Salt Creek toward Stovepipe Wells Village is Devils Cornfield, a must see, and appropriately named. This is best viewed from the turnout if you are a manual wheelchair user. There is a soft sand dirt road that can be accessed from the turnout that goes through Devils Cornfield to Mesquite Dunes. Much of the road is soft sand and not so easy to navigate even in my electric wheelchair. I would be reluctant to travel this road without assistance. My wife and I wanted to shoot a sunset from within the cornfield so we decided to give it a try. After several “I’m stuck in the sand” rescues we managed to find a nice spot to photograph the sunset, and I will say it was worth the effort. I do feel it worth repeating that this is not a road I would travel without assistance.
UPDATE May, 2012: The soft sandy road I mentioned above through Devil’s Corn Field as been blocked off by park services and a cable barrier placed across the entrance. This was done since our visit last year and the wind and elements have since returned the landscape to it’s natural beauty. You can still walk through the corn field but wheelchair access is gone.