Death Valley National Park - California
Located within the northern end of the Mojave Desert in California, Death Valley National Park is the hottest spot in America – literally! Summer time temps typically reach 125° F and hotter… topping out in July 1913 at 134° F. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet striking contrasts exist throughout the park - towering peaks are frosted with winter snow, and rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. It’s hot and arid, but home to over 307 species of birds, 51 species of mammals and over 1,000 species of plants that are native to the area. It has a striking beauty to it, despite only receiving about 2 inches of rain every year. The area originally got its’ name in 1849 by pioneers moving west in search for gold, and became a national park in 1994.
Highlights of the park include Deadman Pass and Dry Bone Canyon, and the soaring Telescope Peak at 11,049 feet above sea level. Two slowly rising mountain ranges surround the desert park, created by a plate of crusty salt flats that are sinking, giving the appearance of the desert park being a valley. It is filled with mineral deposits that have colored the surrounding hillsides with striking oranges, pinks, purples and greens, in an area known as Artist’s Palette. At Dante’s view, a mile-high sand dune, visitors can take in striking 360° views for 100 miles – allowing visitors to see both the highest and lowest points in the U.S.’ lower 48 – Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level and Mount Whitney, at 14,191 feet above sea level.
The park boasts a beautiful stone and adobe Mission-style resort, the Furnace Creek Inn, which is an oasis of hot springs and palm trees with a beautiful spring-fed pool. It also features an 18-hole golf course (the lowest in the world), and a restaurant offering striking views.