|STS068-150-024 Pahrump Valley and Death Valley, Nevada and California, U.S.A. October 1994
Many arid landforms of California and southwestern Nevada are captured in this low-oblique, generally west-looking photograph. At the bottom of the photograph, the partially cloud-covered Spring Mountains are visible, immediately west of which the well-defined drainage pattern of the sparsely vegetated Pahrump Valley can be traced. The intermittently flowing Amargosa River heads southward, makes a U-turn around the southern end of the Amargosa Mountains, and finally flows northwesterly into Death Valley. The very white area is salt residue that has been deposited on the surface of Death Valley Dry Lake [282 feet (86 meters) below sea level--the lowest point in North America]. Because this region receives an average of only 2 inches (5 centimeters) of precipitation per year, the water courses normally do not transport much water. The large Panamint Mountains are visible immediately west of Death Valley. Small, circular, pivot irrigation fields in the Amargosa Desert are the only visual evidence of human activity in this blistering desert landscape.