Lee Flat Sunset; A Joshua Tree silhouette at sunset

Lee Flat in Death Valley National Park

After leaving the Racetrack, in Death Valley National Park, we traveled to Lee Flat on the western edge of the park.  Driving across the Panamint Valley, we stopped at Father Crowley Point on the other side of the valley. Just as we arrived two F18 fighter jets flew into Rainbow Canyon. Since I was still driving  I was too late with the camera, but the jets flew by about 200 yards away from us. We waited around for a while, hoping more would fly past, but to no avail. This is the view looking from Father Crowley Point east across Panamint Valley.

The view across Panamint Valley from Father Crowley Point

The Western half of Death Valley National Park is often used as a training area for China Lake Naval Air Station and Nellis Air Force base which are located near there. Rainbow Canyon is also known as Jedi Canyon from a Star Wars movie scene filmed here.

Lee Flat Death Valley

Lee Flat is a few miles beyond the upper end of Rainbow Canyon. It is covered in Joshua Trees, and is known as the best area in the park for Joshua Trees. I was looking forward to capturing a few images at sunset and the next morning when the Milky Way showed above the horizon. We got there in plenty of time to do a little scouting and catch up on some missed sleep from a 2:30 wake up that morning.

The image below was taken looking east toward Telescope Peak just before sunset.

Sunset lights up the Joshua Trees at Lee Flat

Facing west a few minutes later I was able to catch a nice sunburst as the sun was dropping behind the Inyo Mountains.

Lee Flat Sunset; A Joshua Tree silhouette at sunset

Just after dark we could hear the military jets flying overhead and see their blinking navigation lights. One flew past about a half mile away with a rumble. We watched the stars and the navigation lights move through the air as jets were doing maneuvers. I saw navigation lights coming toward us from the Saline Valley, there was no sound until the jet had passed overhead. Your whole body rumbles as the jet, 200 feet up, passed overhead. We watched the twin exhaust disappear into the night. What a rush! That ended the show for the night, which was good since it would have been hard to sleep with jets doing maneuvers overhead.

I got up at 3:00 am for a Milky Way panoramic picture. The clouds covered the core of the Milky Way a little, but I was fairly happy with the result.

Lee Flat Panorama Milky Way Image

Look at the Road Trips picture Gallery for more images from Death Valley.

Next up is Alabama Hills