Why Would You Go to Death Valley?
You would go to Death Valley, as do half a million visitors each year, to look at its magnificently varied scenery and to recapture the flavor of those days of privation and hardship which gave the valley its name. Death Valley National Monument is in the state of California in the U.S.A. In its 3,000 square miles can be found sheer-walled canyons, desert springs and sands, an extinct volcano, snow-topped mountain ranges, desolate wastes of salt crystals and gardens of fragile wild flowers.
In spite of the overwhelming heat and sparse rainfall, Death Valley exhibits considerable biodiversity. Wildflowers, watered by snowmelt, carpet the desert floor each spring, continuing into June. Bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, and wild burros may be seen. Death Valley has over 600 springs and ponds. Salt Creek, a mile-long shallow depression in the center of the valley, supports pupfish. These isolated pupfish populations are remnants of the wetter Pleistocene climate.
Darwin Falls, on the western edge of Death Valley Monument, falls 100 feet (30 m) into a large pond surrounded by willows and cottonwood trees. Over 80 species of birds have been spotted around the pond.
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places in the world at the height of summertime along with deserts in the Middle East. Located near the border of California and Nevada, in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve.
It is located mostly in Inyo County, California. It runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Grapevine Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, respectively. It has an area of about 3,000 sq mi (7,800 km2). The highest point in Death Valley itself is Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range, which has an elevation of 11,043 feet (3,366 m).
There is a 200 square mile salt pan that contains the Western Hemisphere’s lowest point–282 feet below sea level–and is the driest spot in the U.S.A. Death Valley also contains long abandoned mines, silent witnesses to the gold seekers of 1849 who lived and died in its inhospitable terrain. Coffin Canyon, Deadman Pass, Hells Gate, Starvation Canyon and Suicide Pass are names which perpetuate the despair and suffering of these pioneers.
Death Valley’s Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. This point is 84.6 miles (136.2 km) east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). Death Valley’s Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature on Earth at 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, as well as the highest recorded natural ground surface temperature on Earth at 201 °F (93.9 °C) on July 15, 1972.