Zabriskie Point is a part of the Amargosa Range located in Death Valley National Park. It geological history is complicated but some understanding off its history, even if limited, is helpful to appreciate the images that follow. From Wikipedia, "Millions of years prior to the actual sinking and widening of Death Valley and the existence of Lake Manly another lake covered a large portion of Death Valley including the area around Zabriskie Point. This ancient lake began forming approximately nine million years ago. During several million years of the lake's existence, sediments were collecting at the bottom in the form of saline muds, and gravel from nearby mountains, and ashfalls from the then-active Black Mountain volcanic field. These sediments combined to form what we today call the Furnace Creek Formation. The climate along Furnace Creek Lake was dry, but not nearly as dry as in the present." Erosion plays an important role in weathering the landscape with different layers of soil and minerals eroding at different rates. From Wikipedia, again: Regional mountain building to the west (the purple blue mountain range you see below in our images) influenced the climate to become more and more arid, causing the lake to dry up, and creating a dry lake. Subsequent widening and sinking of Death Valley and the additional uplift of today's Black Mountains tilted the area. This provided the necessary relief to accomplish the erosion that produced the badlands we see today. The dark-colored material capping the badland ridges (to the left and right in our images) is lava from eruptions that occurred three to five million years ago. This hard lava cap has retarded erosion in many places."