THAT SPECIAL PLACE: Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park is one of the special places for the thousands of hikers who trek about the stark landscape each year. You know what we mean by "special place" if you've ever spent a few minutes in a natural setting: That place that is timeless, and sometimes soundless, too, where the woes of the workaday world seem wee and the sky as vast as your thoughts. True, the rugged, crevice-y area has had its cinematic moments, including 1970's "Zabriskie Point," but many visitors think of it as a personal place rife with introspective possibilities (and some fine views, too). So when word arrived in the fall of 2014 that the badlands-y treasure would be shuttered for "major rehabilitation work" from the end of October into the spring, regulars needed to find their next "special place" and pretty darn quick. But fret not, Zabriskie devotees, and pine for it no longer: Death Valley National Park announced on its Facebook page that the work was completed ahead of schedule, on March 5, and the vista point was re-opened to one and all.
THIS ISN'T TO SAY... that Artist's Drive or Dante's View, which were visit-here-in-the-meantime recommendations from the park, should be dropped. Any true-hearted Death-Valley-ian would say see 'em all, and plan accordingly, since the big stretches seem bigger in that far-far-far-away world.
WHAT'S AHEAD: Well, warmer weather, for one. Much warmer weather, three-digit-y days, and fairly soon, too. But the Ranch at Furnace Creek stays open all summer long, while the Inn at Furnace Creek does close for some of it (but is open in July and August). If you want to make one of the world's most magnificent natural places before summer strikes, go for the spring wildflowers. You can follow their floral progress here.
AS FOR OUR CLAIM... that Death Valley National Park is "one of the world's most magnificent natural places"? Truly, we're worried we weren't quite hyperbolic enough. Have you seen that place? Other locations are lovely as anything, but there is only one Zabriskie Point on the third planet from the sun.