Explore Artist's Palette at Death Valley National Park

Rate this Adventure West Side Road

Explore around the Multi Colored badlands of the "must see to believe" geological formation in Death Valley.

Let’s just start this off by saying,  PREPARE FOR THE HEAT.

Death Valley has the highest recorded temperature on earth at over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you are planning to visit in the summer…be ready.  Luckily,  Artist’s Palette is not far from the parking the area and the saving grace of Air Conditioning in your vehicle.

Visiting in the early spring or late fall is recommended,  where temperatures will stay around the 90’s.

You will take a one-way, 9 mile drive through the Amargosa Mountains and some of the most diverse geology on the planet.  The drive is quite fun,  as there are steep dips and turns,  somewhat resembling a rollercoaster track.  

You overlook Badwater Basin,  a gorgeous valley for sunset colors,  and I suggest hiking Artist’s Palette at around sunset,  as you will see long shadows and golden light reflecting off colored dunes.

There are trails,  but no limits as to where you may want to wander.  

This unique erosion pattern is called an alluvial fan.  It is a cone shaped deposit of sediment built up by Death Valleys volcanic period 5-20 million years ago,  and has since been victim to the elements,  weathering away 5000 feet of debris. 

The incredible palette of colors is caused by the oxidation of the different metal and mineral deposits revealed by the violent erosive combinations of heat, wind, and rain.

Iron, Mica, and Manganese are the main culprits creating a diverse color scheme of green, purple, pink and yellow. Manganese is the most magnificent and strange contributor to Artist’s Palette, as it takes on a turquoise green tint.

I suggest wandering to your hearts content,  bring a ton of extra water,  and DEFINITELY don’t smoke any hippy lettuce as you let your mind and body wander through one of earth’s most dramatic locations. 

Pack List

  • Sunscreen
  • Shade Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Photo Gear
  • Breathable desert Clothing
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RT Distance 2 Miles
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Easy Parking
Family Friendly


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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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