As the hottest, driest and lowest national park, Death Valley is a land of extremes. More than just a scorching desert, Death Valley offers park visitors a striking contrast of landscapes to explore — from the snow that frosts the park’s towering peaks to the lush wildflower meadows and small oases that provide a reprieve from the heat to seemingly endless desert plains.
Established on October 24, 1994, Death Valley National Park is a beautiful but challenging landscape where unique wildlife has developed ingenious adaptations to the arid, harsh environment. Located in both California and Nevada, it’s the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has nearly 1,000 miles of roads that provide access to both popular and remote locations in the park. In celebration of the park’s anniversary, here are 12 things you might not have known about Death Valley!
Death Valley is the lowest point in North America. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is a surreal landscape that tricks the senses. What many visitors mistake for snow covering the ground is actually a thick layer of salt on the valley floor. But how did the salt get there? Rain and minerals dissolved from rocks drain to lower elevations.
Here, at Badwater Basin, the water forms temporary lakes after heavy storms. As the water evaporates, minerals concentrate until only the salts remain. After thousands of years, enough salts have settled here at the bottom of the continent to create this vast, surreal scene.
For a short time after its christening in 1849 by a hapless party of emigrants who endured intense suffering while crossing it, Death Valley was little known except to Native Americans (primarily Shoshone) of the area and to prospectors searching the surrounding mountains. The first scientific notice of the valley seems to have been a brief mention published in 1868 by a California state geologist. The area remained seldom visited until the 1870s, when gold and silver were discovered in the surrounding mountains, and 1880s, when borax deposits were found in the valley. Borax production, notably at the Harmony Borax Works (1883–88), gave rise to the famous 20-mule team wagons, which hauled the product to Mojave, California. Several ghost towns are located around the valley, and some still contain ruined buildings. They sprang up from the late 19th to the early 20th century following gold, copper, and silver strikes in the area. Deserted when the mines were depleted, each existed for only a few years. For example, Rhyolite, founded in 1904, was a gold-mining boom town of 10,000 people with its own stock exchange, electric plant, and opera; in 1911 the main mine was closed, and the town was deserted by 1916.
Despite Death Valley’s intimidating name, you don’t have to rough it. The Oasis at Death Valley resort is home to two hotels: the luxurious and historic Inn at Death Valley, a rambling Mission-style structure that dates to 1927, and the family friendly Ranch at Death Valley, where the Last Kind Words Saloon brings alive the spirit of the Old West. And despite its challenging layout, you’re guaranteed to play the lowest round of your life at the resort’s Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley. It sits 214 feet/65 meters below sea level—the world’s lowest elevation golf course.
Here is a short documentary on Death Valley in Urdu