In the beginning part of January, my [then] girlfriend and I decided that we would drive out to Death Valley for a while to go camping and hiking. You might know of Death Valley National Park as the hottest place on Earth (134 F), the lowest place in North America (282 feet below Sea Level), and the driest place in North America (average annual rainfall 2″). In the winter though the park has nice weather. It isn’t all just valley floor, salt flats, and mysterious moving rocks either.
Death Valley is the largest National Park in the lower 48 States with 3.4 million acres. It encompasses a variety of landscapes the most popular of which is the most radical one, the valley floor. This is where all the crazy barren pictures you see are taken [and where select scenes from the orginal Star Wars where filmed]. This is where the the hottest temperature was recorded. Oh, and in the summer this is where crazy people run a marathon! But the park also boasts mountain ranges, old mines, a mansion called Scotty’s Castle, sand dunes, slot canyons, and even an underwater cave.
Death Valley has a vast collection of cultural history they protect. There are mines left from old gold prospectors and ghost towns. We didn’t make it to Panamint City but the Rangers recommended it for people who are interested in history.
This was my first adventure to Death Valley National Park. I am so happy that I was able to go with my girlfriend (and her brother for a few days). We had a great time out there. The thing I think we all agreed upon that was the greatest thing about it was the lack of people, the lack of crowds that most National Parks bring. What blew me away the most about Death Valley NP was the vast openness that is the park. You fell so small out there. The roads are long and take quite awhile to get from one place to another, but the scenery is extreme. As the sun’s position in the sky changes so do the colors on the rocks. One mountain at sunrise was not the same mountain at sunset. Artist Point Drive is best lite up in the afternoon. I can’t wait to go back to Death Valley.
In the summer I want to explore the West Side of the park, the mountains. The Rangers explained to us that during the summer the temperature is actually quite nice at the high elevation compared to the valley floor. There are campgrounds up there and I look forward to hiking up to the top of Death Valley’s highest point; Telescope Peak.
Below are some resources to help you learn more about Death Valley National Park:
- http://www.panamintcity.com – Steve Hall’s excellent website for all things adventure in Death Valley
- National Park Service’s Death Valley Website
- Death Valley Wikipedia
- Death Valley : Documentary on Death Valley and how it was Created (YouTube Video)
- Full Documentry | HD Documentary | Death Valley | BBC Documentary (YouTube Video)
- National Geographic Death Valley National Park BBC Documentary (YouTube Video)
- Pure Nature Specials – Death Valley (YouTube Video)