10 Quick and True Facts About Death Valley National Park
1. Coming in at a more than 3.4 million acres, Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the Lower 48.
2. The highest recorded temperature in the world was recorded in Death Valley’s Furnace Creek at 134 Fahrenheit in July, 1913.
3. Death Valley is the driest place in the country. In 1929, there was not a single drop of rain recorded in Death Valley.
4. Death Valley is home to the United States lowest point, Badwater Basin, which lies at 282 feet below sea level.
5. Death Valley is only 76 miles from the highest point in the country, Mt. Whitney, which tops out at an elevation of 14,505 feet. In other words, the lowest and highest points in the contiguous U.S. are less than 100 miles apart!
6. Life abounds in Death Valley! The Park is home to more than 1000 species of plants (including 50 that are found nowhere else in the world), 300 species of birds, 51 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles and a handful of amphibian and fish species.
7. Archaeologists have found evidence of human presence in Death Valley that dates back at least 9,000 years! The Timbisha Shoshone Native American Tribe has inhabited Death Valley for the past 1,000 years.
8. Really, there are fish in Death Valley. Finding fish in the desert doesn’t sound possible, but surprisingly there are six species of fish that can survive in the salty waters and harsh conditions of Death Valley. One of them is the endangered Devils Hole Pupfish. It only resides in the 93 degree waters of The Devils Hole, where water temperatures and oxygen concentrations are lethal to most other fish. These inch-long iridescent blue pupfish are one of the world’s rarest fish.
9. Speaking of fish, they are not the Devils Hole’s only impressive feature. The water in the hole reacts to seismic activity around the world. If there’s a giant earthquake in Japan, chances are it will be making some waves in Devil’s Hole.
10. THERE ARE MORE THAN 100 GHOST TOWNS AND MINES IN DEATH VALLEY.
Driving from Las Vegas, you’re likely to first make a stop at the Furnace Creek area of the park.
There is a Visitor Center, several campgrounds including one ran by the National Park Service. Two concessionaire lodging accommodations in the Oasis of Death Valley and the The Ranch at the Oasis. A golf course, and a small gas station.
Click the photo below to be taken to the Oasis of Death Valley’s website for more lodging information.
Furnace Creek Campground
Furnace Creek Campground is the only campground in Death Valley National Park that takes reservations at certain times of the year. The campground has pit toilets, but has running water for cooking and potable water for drinking. All roads are paved and most sites are well established.
Click the map to be taken to the Recreation.gov website for reservations and more information.
Be sure to include Artist’s Drive in your itinerary. The one-way drive through colorful canyons will take your breath away with its raw beauty.
The drive through Artist’s Drive is nine miles of colorful canyons in the Black Mountains, spliced by a up and down, twisty one-way road.
The entire road is paved, unlike some of the other canyon drives in Death Valley National Park.
Badwater Basin is a rare feature in the park because the water that does occasionally find its way here does not flow into any ocean.
Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States, is only 76 miles west of the Basin.
Badwater Basin has a small natural pool of undrinkable water next to the road. The water comes from a spring. It is called ‘Badwater’ because people cannot drink the water. This is because so much salt has built up from the basin. The pool does have animals and plants living there, including pickleweed, bugs, and the Badwater snail.
THE BEST PLACE TO WATCH A SUNRISE OR A SUNSET IN DEATH VALLEY
THE MESQUITE FLAT SAND DUNES
The most visible (but not the largest) sand dunes in Death Valley are the Mesquite Flat Dunes. A small parking lot located off Highway 190, two miles south of Stove Pipe Wells offers a great starting point for a trek out to the dunes.
There is no formal trail to follow, just strike out for the high sands, which are reachable within a half mile. Cross the ridges and aim for the point of your choosing. The highest dune rises 100 feet above the desert floor.
The Mesquite Flat Dunes fill the center of a Y-shaped valley. That geography lead to the creation of the dunes and also makes for vast views. In some areas, the sand has dried to form hard clay, which lies on the desert floor cracked in polygon shaped patterns.