Do you love going on an adventure outdoors? If yes, then the Death Valley National Park will most likely pique your interests!
Death Valley National Park: A Land of Extremes
Located in both California and Nevada, the Death Valley National Park is known as a land of extremes. It is not only the hottest but also has the lowest elevation in North America! It receives fewer than two inches of rainfall annually, and the lowest point in the park, which can be found in the Badwater Basin, is 282 feet below sea level.
Despite the extreme heat in the park with the highest record being 134-degree Fahrenheit, about a million adventurers visit the park yearly! Many are particularly interested in the diversity of life in a park ironically named Death Valley National Park.
How did the park get its name, you ask? Well, during the period of the California Gold Rush, a group of emigrants traveled the valley for over two months, enduring hunger, thirst, and silence. One of the last to leave bid farewell to the place saying, “Goodbye, Death Valley.”
Flora & Fauna
You probably think of the Death Valley as an inhabitable place because of its name. On the contrary, it is home to diverse wildlife. Various animals live and thrive in the valley by adapting to the heat and water scarcity. The bighorn sheep, for example, simply drink less water. They can go on without water for several days and can drink gallons once water becomes available again.
Some animals, on the other hand, just rest during the day and stay active at night such as the jackrabbit and coyote. Nonetheless, there are still those who roam the landscape during the day despite the heat like the roadrunners. They possess a naturally high body temperature that allows them to do so anyway.
The Death Valley is also home to diverse plants. Of course, vegetation is abundant in places in the park with water available.
Places to Visit
If it’s your first time to visit the Death Valley National Park and you only have a limited time to enjoy it, the National Park Service (NPS) recommends prioritizing these spots: Badwater Basin, Artists Drive, Devils Golf Course, Golden Canyon, and Zabriskie Point.
Badwater Basin is a salt pan where you can see the lowest elevation in the entire continent of North America. During summer, you can enjoy viewing it from your vehicle. During months when the sun isn’t as harsh as it is usually, you can enjoy walking over it. Just after a 400-meter walk, you can see salt formations in the shape of polygons that seem to go on endlessly.
The Artists Drive is a nine-mile drive that lets you see a view of kaleidoscopic and eroded hills. It brings you to the Artists Palette, which offers another awesome view that’s worth your camera shot! A Star Wars fan? Note that the Artists Palette is home to spots where certain parts of Star Wars, a New Hope were filmed!
Devils Golf Course
The Devils Golf Course is an extensive salt pan. It is full of spiky salt formations, which is why NPS stated that “only the devil could play golf” in the area. Since it’s difficult to walk on, NPS recommends viewing it from the parking area instead.
The Golden Canyon offers both easy and difficult hiking options! NPS, however, does not recommend hiking in the low elevations in the area during summer.
The Zabriskie Point is a popular spot during sunrise and sunset. It offers a view of the badlands of Furnace Creek.
As mentioned, Death Valley is the hottest place in North America. The heat during the day in the summer is usually around 120-degree Fahrenheit. At night, it can drop to the 90-degree Fahrenheit range. Needless to say, bringing lots and lots of fluid is essential when you visit the land of extremes.