Did you know that Death Valley is a vast national park with over three million acres of designated wilderness and hundreds of miles of back country roads? I bet you didn’t and neither did I – just never thought of it as an inviting, inspirational, stunning, and adventurous place. The name ‘Death Valley’ at first glance may seem drab and unappealing, but after researching and viewing photos of the park I changed my mind, and you bet I shall soon visit!
As an inspirational writer I like spaces that allow me to breathe and grow. A territory that expands the mind and really gives you a precise picture of the vastness of this world we call Earth. We know that Death Valley is a one of a kind area in the world. It is located 282 feet below sea level and resides on the lowest point in the Western hemisphere.
Known for the extreme heat, record-breaking dryness and its below sea level location, it doesn’t scream ‘come visit me’. However, the park contains an amazing variety of landscapes, plants and animals for outdoor adventurers to explore, like hiking and photography.
Originally populated by the Timbisha tribe of Native Americans, who have inhabited the valley for at least the past 1000 years, it received its English name in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. Prospectors searching for gold had to cross the valley in order to get to their destinations. During the 1850s, gold and silver were found, but in the 1880s, borax was discovered and extracted by mule-drawn wagons.
You can find out more about the history at http://www.nps.gov/deva/historyculture/index.htm – or visit in person, and take a guided tour during the main visitor season, which is from November to April. Park Rangers lead a variety of walks and talks.
According to studies there once were a series of inland seas located where Death Valley is today. As the area dried up the water evaporated and turned into a desert, leaving behind an abundance of salts such as common sodium salts and borax. The slideshow features some photos of the salt flats. The white road you see is actually salt which people over the years have walked on creating a walkway into the salt flats.
The valley is surrounded by mountains, while its surface is mostly flat and devoid of plants. However, in the winter months, even with the low rain fall of less than 2 inches per year, wildflowers survive and turn the landscape into a living desert. There have been some years of no recorded rainfall at all. Astoundingly, you can also find nocturnal animals that have managed to adapt to these extreme conditions.
The temperature stretches from 134 degrees heat to a cold low of 15 degrees, both of which are records. It is recorded that in 1917, Death Valley had 52 days with temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It certainly is a land of extremes, but also of great beauty. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley. Life lives, and it wants to express more of itself under all circumstances.
Death Valley National Monument was placed under Federal protection in 1933.
Visitor Information (760) 786-3200
Please note: It is your responsibility to leave no trace of your visit so everyone can enjoy Death Valley for generations to come.