Death Valley National Park is nicknamed “A Land of Extremes” because of its stark beauty and brutal, unyielding landscape.
Don’t be confused by the name, by the way. Death Valley is very much alive and is set between high, snow-capped mountains. The name comes from a 19th-century group of travelers who got lost in the area. Only one traveler died, but they were all scared for their lives. Thus the name: Death Valley.
Death Valley holds the record for the hottest place. On July 10, 1913, a scorching 134oF (57oC) was recorded in Furnace Creek. It’s the country’s driest, hottest, and lowest national park.
Most tourists overlook Death Valley National Park when they come to Vegas, mainly because it’s a two-hour drive. But I’m going to give you ten reasons why you should visit.
#1: The Mystery
Some people who see Death Valley for the first time claim that it looks bizarre. For example, it has Badwater Basin, which sits 282 feet below sea level. It’s actually the lowest spot in the US. There is also Telescope Peak that reaches 11,043 feet (3,366 meters).
Death Valley contains some of the most captivating geological mysteries, not just in the country but also in the world. For example, there are sailing stones at Racetrack Playa, some weighing as much as 650 lbs.
#2: It’s Colorful
Death Valley has Artist’s Drive, which you can’t miss. It’s a scenic one-mile loop with multi-hued sedimentary and volcanic hills passing by the Artist’s Palette. You’ll see some beautiful, colorful formations. The breathtaking spot is created by metals in the ground. Iron oxide compounds create red, pink, and yellow. The decomposition of tuff-derived mica creates green, and manganese creates purple.
#3: There’s a Wildflower Bloom
Wet and cool winter and spring weather encourage wildflowers to blossom throughout the park, even in Furnace Creek, the hottest part of Death Valley. The yearly bloom peaks in March, so I recommend visiting in the spring.
#4: It has Natural Wildlife and Vegetation
There are indeed some areas in the Valley that lack life, such as some lower slopes that surround the mountain ranges and salt pans. But there are places with abundant water, found in the higher mountain ranges. These areas have thriving communities of vegetation and wildlife. For example, there are 51 species of mammals, over 1,000 species of plants, 23 of which are not found anywhere else, and 36 species of reptiles. There are also 300 species of birds.
#5: Changing Temperatures
Death Valley is the driest and hottest area in North America. The average winter temperatures are between 65 and 76 degrees, perfect for you if you want a warm escape from snowy climate. In the summer, the temperature may climb higher than 100 degrees. So, if you visit during this time, you must pack extra water.
#6: Great Views
This area has astounding viewpoints. Let me share with you some of them;
i) The Ubehebe Crater
The Ubehebe Crater is a giant crater that was caused by a volcanic eruption and measures about half a mile in width and 400 feet in height.
ii) The Zabriskie Point
The Zabriskie Point is the most famous viewpoint in Death Valley. It overlooks the colorful badlands of Furnace Creek and goes beyond to the Panamint Mountains. It has the most beautiful view at sunrise and sunset.
iii) The Devil’s Golf Course
This is not an actual golf course; you should not go with your clubs. It’s a large area of rock that has been slowly eroded by rain and wind such that it is now jagged spires with a menacing serrated appearance. The devil is said to be the only one that can play golf there, hence the name.
iv) Badwater Basin
It’s located at the southern end of the park. Badwater Basin is made up of pure table salt and sits 282 feet below sea level. It’s actually the lowest point of elevation in North America and the second-lowest in the Western Hemisphere.
#7: The Range
This place contains a significant range of elevations and a wide variety of geological formations. For example, there are salt flats that cover over 200 square miles. There are sand dunes, such as the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the largest dune in the park. It contains star-shaped, linear, and crescent dunes. There are also mountains, with the Telescope Peak being the highest. There are badlands, valleys, and canyons, and you can see them all.
#8: Magnificent Geography
The oldest rocks in Death Valley are over 1.7 billion years old. But what we see today is comparatively young. The geological process of “Basin and Range” formed the region over 3 million years ago. It led to the unique landscape that we have now.
#9: It’s Close to Las Vegas
Death Valley National Park is approximately 130 miles from Las Vegas. This is about a 2-hour drive from the Strip. You can easily get there.
#10: There are so many things to do in Death Valley.
Let me give you a list of the things you can do here;
- Drive backcountry
- Explore during the night
- Watch sunrise and sunset
- Explore attractions
- Walk with your pet