How Did Death Valley Get Its Name?
Death Valley was given its grim name by early travelers, many of whom died of heat and thirst while struggling to cross this hot, dry valley. Death Valley is a desert basin that lies mostly in southern California.
It is the lowest, hottest, and driest place in the United States. Death Valley is about 140 miles long, from the head of Last Chance Canyon in the north to where the Amargosa River makes its big bend near Saratoga Springs in the south.
Prospectors came to the valley in 1850 looking for gold and silver. Mining towns sprang up. People called them “boomtowns.” As the gold and silver ran out, the miners moved on. The boomtowns became ghost towns. Today the valley is a popular winter resort area.
Death Valley National Monument was proclaimed on February 11, 1933, by President Herbert Hoover, placing the area under federal protection. In 1994, the monument was redesignated as Death Valley National Park, as well as being substantially expanded to include Saline and Eureka Valleys.