A year ago, just prior to our visit to Death Valley, I saw a photo by a prominent landscape photographer that inspired me. It was a photo of interesting mud flats with mountains in the background. These mud flats had fascinating geometrical shapes, knitted together in a mosaic that resembled a complex jigsaw puzzle. I saw it, liked it, wanted one of my own. Maybe I could have purchased the photo from the artist, but there is nothing like capturing one for myself. I showed the photo to Kathryn and she wanted one too. It then went on our shot list for our visit.
We stayed three days last year, searching the valley high and low (actually, just low) but could not find mud flats that looked remotely the same. We asked the concierge at the Inn. He hadn’t a clue. We stopped at the visitor center and queried. No luck there. We finished our visit without the shot we wanted. Maybe next time, we said.
Fast forward to the present. On a whim, we decided to visit Death Valley again for three more nights with a goal to locate and photograph the elusive mud flats. To pinpoint their location I wrote to the photographer asking the exact location, perhaps GPS coordinates. No reply. If he successfully photographed the mud flats, probably someone else had also. So, I did an internet deep dive, searching photographs from photographers good and bad, near and far. After some time, I came across a couple of candidate images. I then dug a bit further hoping they wrote about their image in a blog. Luckily most every would-be photographer likes to write about their adventures. I found it. It turns out the mud flats in question would be just 3 miles from our Inn.
On our first night we drove to the described location, across from Golden Canyon. We parked at the trailhead parking lot and set out in search of the flats. We meandered quite a bit, hiking almost a mile into the wilderness, when we came across some prospective mud flats. Upon closer inspection, they lacked the size and separation we were looking for. We kept on hiking. Remembering what the author had noted, look for water runoff spots, we pinpointed an area that might work. It did. Voila!
While shooting we noticed a group of photographers parked along side the road about 1/2 mile from where we parked. They congregated just a short hike from the roadway. There must be more mud flats there. We decided go there for our next evening’s shoot. It turned out to be a gold mine of mud flats. Everywhere we turned there were flats. Here is a shot of Kathryn’s. The mud flats look like they go on forever.
Now that we found the mud flats and hexagonal structures at Badwater Basin, there might not be a reason to come back to Death Valley. If we never come back again, I’m satisfied with the photos we took.
Remember, it’s all about the light!
Can one walk across them?
Are they edible?
I know they bring joy, so we have to learn to fold them.
I did walk on them, cracked a few. I guess I need to lose weight. In general I tried to stay off them. As for being edible, I’d say not. Though they look like nicely shaped crackers. Maybe next time I’ll give one a try, as it probably would go with a nice chianti.
Interesting photos. It would be interesting to see a slow motion video and hear the sounds created by/during the cracking process. Might make a good academic research data gathering project.
Thank you for this information. Would you mind adding whether the “gold mine” spot was around 1/2 mile north or south of the golden canyon trailhead?
Hi Matt, it would be south. Best of luck.
I am planning on visiting Death Valley in a few weeks so thank you for all the information. Would you be able to share the gps coordinates of any of the mud flats you found?
Hi Daniel, We were in Death Valley last month (May 2021) and the mudflats were very disappointing (very worn down and broken). They haven’t had enough rain to regenerate. What we found was about a mile west of the Gold Canyon Trailhead. Good luck and thanks for the read.