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Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park, located in eastern California, is the largest National Park in the lower 48 states, totaling over 3.4 million acres. Death Valley is a highly varied natural habitat with four distinct ecological zones, ranging from Telescope Peak (over 11,000 ft ) to Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level. It is also the hottest and driest place in the United States with summer temperatures reaching 120°F and an average rainfall of less than 2 inches. The record high temperature for the US was set here in 1913 at 134°F.  Interestingly enough, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was also in 1913 at 15°F.

Death Valley was designated as a National Monument in 1933 and in 1994 was increased by 1.2 million acres and reclassified as a National Park.  91% of the Park is designated wilderness with motorized vehicles prohibited.

The closet major city (with an airport and rental cars) is Las Vegas (about a 2 hour drive). Los Angeles is about  a 5 hour drive if traffic is light.

A good many of the photogenic parts of Death Valley are accessible via paved road or a short drive off the paved road on decent gravel roads. Most of the roads are however  unpaved and vary from mildly rough to quite challenging with sharp rocks. These roads are not recommended for normal rental cars or even sport utility vehicles. There are concessionaires in the Valley that rent Jeeps® for use on these back country roads. They are quite popular so advance reservations are prudent. As always, check with the Park Rangers for current road conditions.

Food and Lodging are available at a couple of locations in the Park, (Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells). The internet is a great way to explore your options.

One really complete overview is available from They also have a hardcopy parks guide that we were able to get at our local AAA® office.

  Death Valley at sunrise from Zabriskie Pt                                                                   Ubehebe Crater      

  Pup-fish in the shallow water of Salt Creek

Devil's Golf Course

                                                              Death Valley a mile below - from Dante's View

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Scotty's Castle

 Borax wagons pulled by the famous 20 mule teams (at Harmony Borax Works site)

Saline water at Badwater Basin                                                 Cracked salt layers in the Badwater salt flats

Death Valley

Lowest elevation in the U S at Badwater

Artist's Palette

 Salt crystals