The California Gold Rush brought the first people of European descent known to visit the immediate area. In December 1849 two groups of California Gold Country-bound travelers with perhaps 100 wagons total stumbled into Death Valley after getting lost on what they thought was a shortcut off the Old Spanish Trail. They were unable to find a pass out of the valley for weeks, nearly dying of thirst. They eventually found fresh water at various springs in the area, but were forced to eat their oxen to survive. The party eventually was able to hike out. Just as they were leaving, one of the women in the group turned and said, "Goodbye Death Valley," giving the stark landscape it’s name.
The valley is mostly in California, with a portion in Nevada. It contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. The landscape is a photographer’s paradise. The Mesquite Dunes, in particular, are extremely beautiful when the shadows are long, and the light is low. This valley is the largest national park in the lower 48 states. The images of the palm trees were taken in the Furnace Creek oasis and in Palm Springs using an old Canon digital 20D, converted to infrared.