Death Valley National Park is a mostly arid National Park located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Inyo County, California, USA with a small section extending into Nevada. The park covers 5,219 mi˛ (13,518 km˛), encompassing Saline Valley, a large part of Panamint Valley, almost all of Death Valley, and parts of several mountain ranges. The Devil's Hole portion of the park is located in Nevada and is near the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Preserve. It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States and contains the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at Badwater which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. It is also home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include Creosote Bush, Bighorn Sheep, Coyote, and the Death Valley Pupfish - a survivor of much wetter times.
Mining was the primary activity in the area before it was protected. The first known non-Native Americans to enter the Valley did so in the winter of 1849, thinking they would save some time by taking a short-cut to the gold fields of California. They were stuck for weeks and in the process gave the Valley its name even though only one of their group died there. Several short-lived boom towns sprung up during the late 19th century and early 20th to exploit minor local bonanzas of gold. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined, however, was borax; a mineral used to make soap and an important industrial compound. 20-Mule Teams were famously used to transport this ore out of the Valley, helping to make it famous and the subject or set of numerous books, radio programs, television series and movies. Death Valley National Monument was created in 1933, placing the area under some protection. In 1994, the Monument was promoted to the status of National Park, as well as being substantially expanded.
The natural environment of the area has been profoundly shaped by its geology, which is very long and complex. The oldest rocks are extensively metamorphosed and at least 1700 million years old. Ancient warm-shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean. Additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. This uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes. Later the crust started to pull apart, creating the Basin and Range landform we see today. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of ice ages, with lakes, such as Lake Manly.
Web Sites and Links
Amargosa Opera House And HotelInformation about dancer Marta Beckett's hotel, theater, performances, and store in Death Valley Junction.
Area Guide Death ValleyFind listing for lodging, real estate, restaurants & entertainment in city and surrounding area.
Death ValleyInformation site including articles and forums on current events, geology and history as well as travel information.
Death Valley Chamber of CommerceArea guide to businesses and commercial development. Community information and resource directory.
Death Valley on 395.comVisitor's information including biking and hiking trails, backcountry drives and ghost towns.
Holoscenes - Textures of the EarthBeautiful relief maps with topography and vegetation of regions of the US: Death Valley, Mohave Desert, Basin and Range.