Death Valley in spring: Beautiful and not that hot

Even in spring, it’s about as hot as many other places are come August, with April and May temperatures ranging from the 70s to just over 100. As for desolation — yes, the landscape is stark. This is a desert, after all. But there’s also a certain beauty to it, a mosaic of colors from the salt flats and sand dunes to the striations of craggy peaks. Some years, stunning wildflowers bloom in spring and early summer.

Follow Napa’s olive oil trail in California

Come to California wine country to taste the … olive oil? Yes, there’s liquid gold hidden among the vines, part of an olive oil boom in recent years. You can tour an orchard, learn what extra-virgin olive oil really means and taste your way through lemon-, herb- and even chocolate-infused olive oils. Here are five recommended “pit” stops.

THE RULES

The Kansas City Star’s Travel Photo Contest is open to amateur photographers of any age who are residents of Missouri or Kansas.