A natural wonder of gnarled limestone beds in a far-flung corner of Death Valley National Park, the Striped Butte rises 774 feet from the floor of Butte Valley which itself lies 4000 feet above sea level. Most visitors to the park will never see this stupendous hunk of rock. Its remoteness and the daunting routes that lead to it are a deterrent to mass invasion.
We set out from our base in Beatty at 3 am on a cold December morning hoping to make it into Butte Valley before daybreak. To be out in the wilds of Death Valley in pitch black conditions is an experience never forgotten. We had with us Death Valley Jim, the finest guide in the business, and his Sport Wrangler got us to our destination just in time for a spectacular desert dawn.
For an introduction to the area, see this excellent report by Steve Hall.
Obiter dicta: In 1996 a German family went missing near Anvil Springs Canyon, not far from here. Their remains were found 13 years later through the determined efforts of a citizen investigator. Read the fascinating account here. The story underscores the dangers this terrain represents especially in the summer months. For a less grim interlude, check this out.