A desolate desert landscape. That’s probably what most people think about Death Valley. In fact, Death Valley is much more than a bleak terrain desert. First, the name is already captivating and makes people wonder how Death Valley got the name. Moreover, the natural landscape is bizarre and diverse since it is located in the lowest point in North America. Therefore, you can also find unique creatures in Death Valley. Because this location is also special, some locations in Death Valley are also used to film Star Wars movies. Hence, Death Valley is not just a boring desert landscape. It is a land full of surprises.
If you are going to visit this breathtaking place, then first you should know some Death Valley facts. In this article, we will answer your curiosity and intriguing questions that people should know before visiting this amazing place. Get ready to be impressed because those interesting facts will surely blow your mind.
1. Death Valley is the Largest Park in the Contiguous US
Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, as well as the hottest, driest, and lowest. Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, is the second-lowest place in the Western Hemisphere and the lowest in North America. In fact, this park covers 5,270 square miles!
Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the Lower 48, reaching into Nevada. The Mojave Desert encompasses Death Valley, which features five sets of sand dunes, two mountain ranges, one extra large volcano crater, and one super extra large salt basin.
2. The Lowest and The Highest Point In The Lower 48
Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, is a bizarre environment that deceives the senses. The Badwater Basin is the lowest place in the United States, and also in North America. Dantes Perspective offers a panoramic view of the Badwater Basin, as well as distant views of the Sierra Nevadas, demonstrating how close they are.
In fact, the highest and lowest points in the region are separated by 14,787 feet in vertical height. Meanwhile, at 11,049 feet, Telescope Peak is Death Valley’s highest point. Furthermore, the height drop is sharper than the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
3. The Name Came From The Lost Pioneers
A group of pioneers lost in this place during the winter of 1849-1850 gave Death Valley its ominous name. Pioneers were hesitant to cross the Northern Sierras in the fall after the Donner Party disaster in 1846. So, in 1849, a group of gold-seekers seeking a better life set out to find a better way into California. They chose to create that path by skirting around the Sierras’ southern edge.
A splinter group made the mistake of taking a “short cut” through western Nevada and into the Panamint mountains, making them lost and malnourished for a month. When the exhausted troop finally made it out of the valley, one of them is supposed to have exclaimed, “Goodbye, Death Valley”. Despite the fact that only one of the group perished here, they all imagined it would be their final resting place.
4. The Hottest Place On Earth
Temperatures in Death Valley reached worldwide extremes when they touched 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Weather & Climate Extremes Archive. It is the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere on the planet. In addition, the hottest spot on Earth had its warmest month on record in July 2018. The average temperature, including overnight lows, was 108.10 degrees Fahrenheit. For four days in a row, daytime highs hit 1270 degrees Fahrenheit.
Death Valley’s summer temperatures are influenced by its depth and form. The valley is a long, narrow depression that lies 282 feet below sea level and is surrounded by high, steep mountain ranges. The desert surface is heated by sunlight due to the clear, dry air and limited plant cover.
5. Wildflowers In Death Valley
Death Valley, contrary to its name, comes alive with color and life during the spring season. Even though the area is known for its unusual and stunning wildflower displays, wildflowers are never completely missing. The hills and valleys will turn into a carpet of gold, purple, pink, or white flowers when the conditions are ideal.
For a desert floral view, drenching rain is required. A half-inch or more of rain is required to remove the protective covering from wildflower seeds and allow them to sprout. Not to mention, rainstorms must come at regular intervals throughout the winter and spring for plants to continue to flourish. During this time, pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees flock to super blooms in great numbers.
6. Some Rocks Move On Their Own
The geography of Death Valley has been shifting for millions of years. It’s changing right now, and it’ll keep changing long after we’ve gone. Erosion steadily erodes the ancient rock formations, altering the land’s surface. The basin continues to sink, while the mountains continue to climb.
One of Death Valley’s most persistent mysteries is found at Racetrack Playa. Hundreds of rocks are scattered across the bottom of this dry lakebed, leaving tracks on the ground as they move. Some of the rocks have gone over 1,500 feet and weigh up to 700 pounds.
The source of their movement had been unknown for years, but in 2014, researchers uncovered an unusual sequence of events that caused the pebbles to move. Winds propel the pebbles ahead across the slippery surface, leaving trails in the soft mud below. In addition, the playa floods and cold winter nights freeze the water into a thin layer of ice that eventually breaks into enormous floating panels as night fades to day.
7. The Singing Sand On Desert
Although sand dunes only make up a small part of Death Valley, the dark ripples and stark, beautiful curves are among the Death Valley National Park’s most striking vistas. While Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are the most accessible and the only place where sand boarding is permitted, Eureka Sand Dunes are far taller, towering over 680 feet. One of the strangest desert phenomena is singing sand, which may be found at the top of the sand dunes.
Furthermore, a sound similar to the bass note of a pipe organ or the distant drone of an airliner can be heard when sand flows down the steep sides of towering dunes. The source of this occurrence is unknown, but it is most likely produced by sand grain friction. In fact, there are few other places on the planet where tourists may hear the wonderful songs of nature so clearly.
8. It Is The Habitat of The Roadrunners
Unlike many other birds that leave Death Valley for the summer, the roadrunner stays all year and appears to prefer warmer days than cooler ones. They emerge early in the morning in the winter, seek shelter, and turn their backs on the sun. It acts as a sun heater for them, allowing them to get going in the cold. The birds spread their feathers out to reveal the dark skin beneath, absorbing even more heat.
It’s one of the most commonly seen wildlife species in Death Valley. The roadrunner, which stands less than 2 feet tall and weighs approximately a pound, has gained international acclaim. On the Looney Tunes TV show, the long-legged bird was seen with its animated arch-nemesis, Wile E. Coyote.
9. Devil Golf Course
The Devils Golf Course is a colorful landscape carved into stunning jagged spires by wind and rain. It gained its name because it has a surface where “only the devil could play golf.” You can hear billions of tiny salt crystals expanding and contracting in the heat if you listen attentively. The sculpted salt formations create a rough landscape that is both delicate and striking.
The Devil’s Golf Course is a vast salt pan on the Death Valley floor. The salt pan is basically a dried-up lake bed that formerly covered the valley to a depth of 30 feet. The lake dried up between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, leaving behind dissolved minerals that weathered into spectacular shapes over thousands of years.
10. You Can Spot Tatooine from Star Wars
Are you a fan of the Star Wars franchise? Have you ever wished to visit Tatooine? You can now do so. Take a drive via Artists Drive, a breathtaking stretch of multicolored, eroding hills. This is the location that is shown in the Star Wars: A New Hope. Natural metal deposits in the mountains oxidize to give beautiful colors of green, blue, and purple that resemble a painter’s palette.
Because your vehicle can’t travel as quickly as the Millenium Falcon, take your time to admire the beautiful countryside and visit the destinations depicted in Star Wars: A New Hope. Spartacus, The Twilight Zone, and Tarzan are among the other films and television shows that have been shot in Death Valley.
11. The Charcoal Kilns As The Part of History
Beside its beautiful natural tourism places, Death Valley also has its own long history. The Charcoal Kilns are a historical relic of the park. The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns are odd beehive-like structures that rise 25 feet tall and hold the history of Death Valley within their walls.
The kilns, which were built in 1877 by American Indian, Hispanic, and Chinese laborers, provided a source of fuel for two neighboring lead-silver mining smelters until 1900. They’re further away from the park’s more popular attractions, but they’re one of the best-preserved and unusual attractions. Today, visitors can tour the kilns and learn about the people who created them.
12. The Incredible Volcano Explosion Mark In Death Valley
In Death Valley, a volcanic eruption left its mark. The Ubehebe Crater is nearly 600 feet deep and half a mile wide, making it one of the most impressive places. When magma traveled near to the surface, the heat drove groundwater to flash into steam, hurling large amounts of pulverized old rock and new magma across the rocky alluvial fan draped across the valley floor. As a result, it creates a wonderful mark that shows its charm.
Although the vast crater was constructed around 2,100 years ago, the most recent explosion could have occurred as recently as 300 years ago. The sheer magnitude of the crater dwarfs visitors and inspires awe in the power of nature. The crater is known among local Native American tribes as “Tem-pin-tta- Wo’sah,” which means “Coyote’s Basket.” The full crater may be seen from a parking lot on its rim, but hiking trails reveal numerous smaller craters and remarkable erosion effects.
13. Pupfish That Survive On The Desert
Although it may seem impossible to find fish in the desert, there are six types of fish that can survive in the salty waters and severe circumstances of Death Valley. One of these is the Devils Hole Pupfish, which is endangered. It exclusively lives in Devils Hole’s 93-degree seas, where water temperatures and oxygen levels are harmful to most other fish. One of the world’s rarest fish is this inch-long iridescent blue pupfish. Learn about the efforts of scientists to conserve this fish.
Desert adaptation is demonstrated by the pupfish. Thousands of years ago, Death Valley had multiple fish-filled lakes, but as centuries of environmental change limited the water to just a few salty springs, pupfish were the only ones to survive. Later, the sun is a continual hazard, and the Salt Creek pupfish has reached its limit. Pupfish feed microscopic bugs and algae to thrive in a delicate ecology. They’ll perish when the water at BadWater Basin runs out.
14. It Has The Darkest Night Skies To See Milky Way
Death Valley offers some of the darkest night skies in the country, making it a fantastic site to marvel at the Milky Way’s vastness, observe the moon’s features, monitor a meteor shower, or simply meditate on your place in the cosmos. The International Dark-Sky Association certified it as the third International Dark Sky Park in the United States National Park System.
Death Valley National Park is a wonderful site to see the Milky Way because it has low light pollution. The Death Valley National Park modified external lighting at structures in the Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells sections to qualify for the dark sky classification, lowering energy consumption, sky glow, and glare. The park must maintain its efforts to safeguard night sky resources and provide dark sky information to visitors as a result of the designation.
15. It Never Rains More Than 10 Days A Year
Death Valley has a subtropical, hot desert environment with long, scorching summers, mild winters, and little rain. Because it is in the rain shadow of four major mountain ranges, including the Sierra Nevada and Panamint Range, the valley is exceedingly dry. It’s the hottest place on Earth and the driest place in North America, with an average annual rainfall of less than 2 inches. If you find the valley level too hot in any season, head up. Every 1,000 feet of elevation brings a 3 to 5°F change in temperature.
It is also extremely unlikely that it will rain. It seldom rains more than 10 days a year in Death Valley, and the months with the most rainfall are March and December which are only 2-3 days a month. Meanwhile, snow is an uncommon and unusual occurrence in Death Valley. Only the park’s highest peaks are blanketed in snow throughout the winter months.