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Death Valley National Park Travel Guide: 960 reviews and 2,226 photos

Death Valley

Death Valley has a lot of superlatives associated with it: Hottest; driest; lowest. It is the hottest place in North America because of its low elevation and the surrounding mountains recirculate the hot air keeping it from dissipating at night. Daytime temperatures frequently reach 120 F and nighttime temperatures mat remain about 100. Death Valley is one of the driest points because the series of mountain ranges sap all the moisture from the clouds coming in from the east leaving very little rain when the clouds reach the valley. Death Valley also contains the lowest point in the lower 48 states because of the geologic makeup of the Basin and Range type of terrain. These forces continue to make the Panamint Mountain Range get higher and the Badwater Basin (lowest point in the US at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level) get lower. These unique forces allow the lowest point in the lower 48 and the highest point in the lower 48 (Mt McKinley at 14,491 feet (meters) to occur within 100 miles of each other. The geologic forces also combine with climactic and biological factors to form a unique ecosystem that provides a home to many species of animals and plants that are not found anywhere else in the world. Many people think of Death Valley as a vast wasteland; but there is actually an abundance of life here if you know where, and when, to look for it.

Zabriskie Point

A short distance (maybe 7 or 8 miles) after you enter the park from the east there will be a turnoff for Zabriskie Point. From the parking area there is a short, paved path leading to the viewpoint. The mountains you see here are part of the Amargosa Range and in early September they appeared totally devoid of life. The colors were a wide range of near whites, light grays and dark grays that under the right light are almost black. Through the gaps in the mountains you can see Death Valley and beyond that the Panamint Range. The view is really quite interesting and is worth the stop.

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Although there is a lot of sand in Death Valley, it is evenly distributed throughout the valley. In a few places the terrain causes the sand to be dropped to the ground all at one time. There are a total of five areas with sand dunes in Death Valley National Park. The easiest area to access is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. The dunes here were formed when the winds were slowed significantly by the narrowing of the valley and the height of Tucki Mountain. These weakened winds then deposit the Quartz sand scoured from the mountains all at once to form these dunes. Because the winds are never very strong, the dunes remain in the same place with just some minor resculpturing.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Interesting Landscapes
  • Cons:Very Hot!
  • Last visit to Death Valley National Park: Jul 2010
  • Intro Updated Oct 7, 2010
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Reviews (53)

Comments (3)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    There is more vegetation than I imagined, and a couple of good looking girls out there. Your a lucky guy to find them. Nice comments and pictures and Zibriskie Point is wonderful scene

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jul 10, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    Excellent tips of Death Valley. Bring back fond memories. Cheers from Penang, SL :)

  • Feb 24, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    Great Death Valley Page with some beautiful photos.


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