Death Valley National Park

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Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Index

  • The valley of extremes
  • Why is it called that?
  • What see?
  • Highlights of the Death Valley
  • To do
  • Temperature
  • Average temperatures
  • When to go?
  • Precautions for the visit
  • Entry costs
  • Opening time
  • Accomodation
  • How to get there from Las Vegas

Contrary to what its name suggests, Death Valley is one of the most fascinating places in the United States, as well as one of the largest national parks in North America.



It is located mostly in Southern California and a very small portion in Nevada.

The valley itself measures approximately 210 kilometers, while the park that bears his name extends for approximately 14.000 kilometers.

The valley of extremes

The vast area covered by the nature reserve is famous for its extremes: Death Valley is, in fact, known as the driest place, warmer e lower of the northern United States.

Why is it called that?

This sinister name was assigned to the valley by a group of pioneers who were trapped here in the winter of 1849-50. Although, according to the chronicles, only one of them, in the end, could not survive, the members of the expedition were certain that they would die in this place.

When two other pioneers from the group came to rescue them, one of the missing, turning back from the top of the Panamint Mountains, said "Goodbye, valley of death". Since then, the name Death Valley has been used to indicate that vast desert area located between California and Nevada.



What see?

Although many think, due to its name, that Death Valley is a barren and desolate land, in reality its territory is one of the most fascinating not only in North America, but in the whole world.

The variety of landscapes it hosts, in fact, is a real "time line" of the various geological eras that have followed one another.

Below is a list of those areas of the park that you cannot, and absolutely must not miss.

Did you know? Most of the attractions of Death Valley can be seen comfortably seated in your car: ideal for those who have little time but still do not want to miss the opportunity to visit it.

Highlights of the Death Valley

Furnace Creek area

The Furnace Creek area, which can be easily reached from Las Vegas by taking the CA-190, is certainly the most popular area of ​​the park, where its most famous points of interest are located.

Fornace Creek Visitor Center & Museum

Open from 8am to 17pm

Before starting to explore Death Valley, it is practically a must to go through the Furnace Creek Visitor Center; here, in fact, it is possible to discover which are the main points of interest in the park and find maps e brochures.


I creak they will tell you something about the history and things to see, and you can watch a movie about the park.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is one of the most popular areas not only in the park, but in all of North America. This, in fact, is where the lowest point in the whole of the United States in the North: 85 meters below sea level!


But where does the name "badwater" come from? This particular area of ​​the park has earned this singular appellation due to the presence of a lake of water particolarmente salad, which is located about 28 kilometers south of Furnace Creek.

In the warmer months, when the water evaporates, saline formations with a characteristic honeycomb shape remain on the ground.

Dante's View

If you want to see Death Valley from a privileged point of view, you have to take the 28 km road that starts near the CA 90 and go up the Black Mountains, on the eastern edge of the park, until you reach the esplanade of Dante's View, at a height of 4.000 meters.

Harmony Borax Works

The Harmony Borax Works is the site where, in 1881, William T. Coleman built a well for the extraction of borax, a well that fell into disuse just five years after its opening and which, later, became part of the reserves of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Today it is possible to see its ruins.


Zabriskie Point

Built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company in 1920, Zabriskie Point, which owes its name to the then Vice President of the company, is still one of the scenic spots preferred by park visitors. From here, in fact, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the canyon below.

Devil’s Golf Course

That of the Devil's Golf Course, is one of the most interesting from a geological point of view and the most fascinating of all the Death Valley park.


Here, once there was a lake, as the waters have withdrawn and then disappeared; in their place remained a vast expanse of curious salt crystal formations. Here, it is argued "only the devil would be capable of playing golf".

Artist’s Drive e Artist’s Palette

This spectacular route of about 15 km starts from Badwater Road and accompanies those who travel along it on a fantastic journey through fascinating landscapes.

The water, flowing through the rocks surrounding the Artist's Drive, discovered deposits of metals and minerals that colored them with color combinations that resemble an artist's palette.

The most spectacular point, known precisely as Artist's palette, is located approximately halfway along the route.

Natural Bridge

Located south of Furnace Creek, Natural Bridge is a huge eroded rock formation that looks like a bridge, giving visitors a truly unique view.

Area di Scotty’s Castle

In the northern part of the park there is a magnificent building dating back to the early decades of the 900th century, as well as some craters of volcanic origin.

Scotty's Castle

Due to the extensive damage suffered by the structure, it will not be open until 2020.
Scotty's Castle is located in the northern part of Death Valley National Park, and is a stunning mirror of the 20s and 30s.

Built in 1922 at the behest of the millionaire Albert Mussey Johnson, Scotty's Castle (the name by which Death Valley Ranch is commonly referred to) is an imposing two-story building that looks like a castle and owes its name to the owner's best friend.

When it is open, it is possible to take part in guided tours led by the park rangers, who take visitors to discover the castle and its underground tunnels.

Ubehebe Crater

In the vicinity of Scotty's Castle is the Ubehebe Crater, a crater formed due to the intense volcanic activity in the area.

Beach Racetrack

This area, difficult to access (it can be reached via a dirt road more than 40 km long, which begins near the Ubehebe Crater), is the bed of a lake in thePleistocene era, today dried up.

Its peculiarity? Stones that move on their own and leave trails behind them that remain visible in the ground for a long time.

Eureka Dunes

You may not know it, but it doesn't mean that in a desert there must be only kilometers and kilometers of sand dunes! This is the case of Death Valley, which is made up of many different landscapes and has very few sand and dunes: among them there are those called Eureka Dunes.

Area di Stovepipe Wells

Stovepipe Wells is a real one western village where you can really find everything: a souvenir shop, a saloon, a restaurant and even a swimming pool!
In its vicinity, there are the other sand dunes of the park.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Here they are, the other dunes of Death Valley! They are the easiest to reach, and although they are smaller than Eureka Dunes, they cover a larger area of ​​the park.

To do

Death Valley, Badwater

A territory as large as that of Death Valley offers the visitor many opportunities to practice numerous outdoor activities. Here's what you can do if you decide to visit it:

Visit the museums and the Visitor Center

I have already talked about the Visitor Center above: if you come from Las Vegas, it is the first place to visit to discover lots of interesting information and curiosities about the park.

As for the museums, in addition to the Scotty's Castle, which I told you about earlier, there is also the Borax Museum, a private institution located within Furnace Creek Ranch, where you can learn more about the history of borax and the mining operations of this mineral that took place within Death Valley.

Explore the park by car

The best way you have to visit Death Valley National Park is by car. The park area is dotted with roads, mostly dirt roads, which reach even the most remote points of interest.

Especially if you are short on time, the best option is there Badwater Road, which is none other than the 190 which continues after Furnace Creek and goes all the way around the surrounding area; in about 1h and 30 you should be able to see all the major attractions of this part of Death Valley, which includes Badwater Basin, Artist's Drive, Zabriskie Point, Natural Bridge and Devil's Golf Course.

If you have a little more time, you can also venture to Dante's View.

For a detailed map of all the streets of the park, you can consult the free one, provided by the official website.

Do excursions

Death Valley, Percorso Natural Bridge

Within Death Valley there are several trails that are ideal for hiking enthusiasts, suitable for both casual walkers and more experienced hikers.

Among the more interesting routes vi segnalo: Harmony Borax works, Salt Creek, Natural Bridge, badate Salt Flat, Mesquite Flat Sand and Dunes, Ubehebe Crater Loop, Mosaic Canyon.

Cycling

If you love cycling, know that the same roads that you travel with the car can also be traveled on a bicycle!

Visit the ghost towns

The ghost town of Rhyolite, Death Valley

In Death Valley there are several, of abandoned cities. Spooky testimonies of the gold rush.

The most popular and well-preserved, however, is not located within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park, but outside, in the territory of Nevada.

It is Rhyolite, a city that experienced a period of great prosperity, which reached its peak in 1906 and which, as early as the following year, gave way to a crisis so profound as to decree its end.

Temperature

As I have already told you, Death Valley is the valley of extremes, also, and above all, in terms of temperatures. Think that this valley is one of the hottest areas not only in the United States, but in the whole world. Here, in summer, the thermometer does not struggle to exceed 50 °.

Want to know what is the highest temperature ever recorded here? These are the 57th registered on 10 July 1913.
Is it hot all year round, then? Actually, no.

In the period that goes from December to March temperatures drop significantly, struggling to rise above 20° and, during the night, they can even reach 0 °.

Because the climate it is so dry? There are two main reasons why this valley is characterized by this extremely dry and arid climate.

The first is the scarcity of rainfall, caused by the presence of the mountains, which prevent the storm currents from reaching it; the second is the conformation of the territory. L'exceptional depth of the valley, combined with the height of the mountains that surround it, create a sort of "mirror effect”Whereby the sun's rays bounce off the rock walls, resulting in the high temperatures that can be experienced during the day.

Average temperatures

Here is a table with the average temperatures of Death Valley (the data provided was collected by the National Weather Service in the period between 1911 and 2007).

Maxims Minimum Record Max Record Min Precipitate. (cm)
January 19° 31° -9 ° 0.7
February 23° 37° -6 ° 0.9
March 23° 13° 39° -3 ° 0.6
April 32° 17° 39° -5 ° 0.3
May 38° 23° 50° 0.2
June 43° 27° 54° 10° 0.1
July 41° 31° 57° 17° 0.3
August 46° 30° 53° 18° 0.3
September 41° 24° 50° 0.4
October 34° 16° 45° 0.3
November 25° 36° -4 ° 0.5
December 18° 32° -7 ° 0.5
Annuals 33° 17° 57° -9 ° 4.9

When to go?

The Death Valley in spring

Death Valley National Park is open all year round, but there are better times than others to make the most of all that its immense territory has to offer.

  • Spring. Definitely, the best time to visit it is spring, when the temperatures are not too high (at the beginning of the season there are around 20 °, but already in May they exceed 30 °) and, if it has rained enough, you can admire wonderful blooms.
  • Autumn. If you love camping and hiking, then one of the good times to visit the park is autumn, when the heat drops back to acceptable levels.
  • Winter. Winter is considered another golden season for Death Valley: in this period temperatures can drop below 20, and even below 10 degrees and you can encounter some rare rain and occasional snowfall on the Panamints Mountains, which only accentuate its charm. The only drawback? The days, which in winter are shorter than in other seasons.
  • Summer. Summer, on the other hand, is the least recommended period to explore the Death Valley, due to the unbearable heat typical of the season: in this period, in fact, there is little you can do, besides driving through it by car and taking some pictures. excursions and sporting activities in general are highly discouraged.

Precautions for the visit

Before leaving there are some precautions to know and, above all, to respect, once you have crossed the park boundaries.

Before leaving:

  • Bring an abundant supply of water, and remember to drink a lot (2 to 4 liters of water per day);
  • wear suitable clothes and protect yourself with hats and sunscreen;
  • never undertake the journey alone, but bring at least one other person with you. Inside the park, the coverage of the cellular network is very weak, if not absent;
  • also bring warm clothes and blankets with you, in case you have to stay in the valley even at night;
    always stay on the roads, paths and marked paths;
  • be careful where you put your feet, and your hands, because scorpions, spiders and snakes are always lurking.

By car

  • before leaving, make sure that the engine of your car is in perfect order, that there is enough water in the radiator, oil in the engine and that the tires are swollen;
  • like you, the car also needs water, so have a supply of water and liquid for the radiator;
  • check that you are full, because there are not many petrol stations inside the park, and the territory is vast;
  • do not rely only on the GPS, to orient yourself, but also bring with you updated maps of the park;
    if you see someone in trouble, stop and help them, and report the problem to the nearest ranger;
  • if the car breaks down, don't abandon it, but stay close to it until someone comes to help you (don't stay inside, though, but seek shelter in the shade).

To know: within the boundaries of the park there are only three distributors of fuel. One is found a Furnace Creek, one is al Panamint Springs Resort and the other is to the village of Stovepipe Wells.

Entry costs

Here are the fees to pay for those wishing to visit Death Valley:

  • 7-day car pass, $ 25;
  • 7-day motorcycle pass, $ 20;
  • Individual 7-day pass (for those entering on foot or by bike) $ 12;
  • Death Valley Annual Pass (pass annuale) $50.

Opening time

Il Death Valley National Park it is open all year round and can be visited both day and night.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center is open daily from 8am to 17pm.

Accomodation

If you want to stop and sleep in Death Valley, or in its vicinity, both within the valley and in the surrounding area there are numerous hotels at your disposal.

Inside the park

There are 4 structures in Death Valley where you can stop and sleep:

Furnace Creek Inn;
Furnace Creek Ranch;
Panamint Springs Resort;
Stovepipe Wells Village.

Outside the park

Longstreet Inn & Casino, Amargosa Valley;
Amargosa Opera House & Hotel, Death Valley Junction;
Death Valley Inn & RV Park, Beatty;
Exchange Club Motel, Beatty.

How to get there from Las Vegas

The American "city of sin" is certainly one of the best starting points for those wishing to reach Death Valley National Park.

The shortest route, for those starting from Las Vegas, is the one through the city of Pahrump: from Interstate 15 take the NV 160 towards Pahrump; just north of town, take a left onto Bell Vista Road, then continue on this road until you meet Death Valley Junction.

Here you will need to turn right onto CA 27, and then immediately left onto CA 190 to Death Valley.
The path is longer than 190 kilometers; to get to your destination it takes about 2 hours.


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