Death Valley is one of the top attractions in the West of the United States, the biggest part of the Valley you find in the State of California and a smaller part in the State of Nevada. The area is surrounded by mountains and is part of the great basin and the Mojave desert. The Valley is part of a slightly larger National Park of the same name. The Indians called the Valley “the Burning Earth” but she owes its current name to the first settlers inthe 19th century, called “fortyniners”, of whom many died here. On the road to the promised gold of California they had to pull through the desert and came to their miserable end.
Thanks to air conditioners in their cars, travelers nowadays survive the high temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature ever measured here is 58.3 °, in Furnace Creek, a desert village, on 3 July 2013. This was exactly one hundred years later than the last heat record of 10 July 1913 (57 ° C). Death Valley is a park of extremes, so is bath water, at 86 meters below sea level the lowest point of North America and Mount Whitney is the highest mountain of the Sierre Nevada (4418 m). In Death Valley National Park are next to desert salt flats, also rock formations, canyons, sand dunes and mountains and however live threathening this place may seem, there you can find 40 animal and plant species which you can find nowhere else in the world.
If you drive through Death Valley, make sure your car is in good condition and have enough drinking water with you. The best place to start your trip is Death Valley Junction. Here you find the Visitor Center in Furnace Creek Oasis. You will also find here a settlement of the Timbisha Indians, who live here since at least 1000 years.
The most famous and most visited point of Death Valley is Zabriskie Point, where you have a wide view over the moon-like landscape, cut through with short waved mountains. At sunrise and sunset there is an almost alien gold color added.
Other attractions not to be missed are:
Sights artist’s Drive and Palette: a paved road with a view of rocks with different color
Bath water: the lowest place of North America, a salt flat 86 m below sea level
Dante’s View: a high place (1669 m) from where one has a wonderful view of Death Valley
Devil’s Golf Course: a plain covered with a 1 to 2 m thick layer of halite
Furnace Creek: a settlement in Death Valley
Harmony Borax Works: borax was mined here
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Wells dunes area at Stovepipe
Racetrack Playa: a salt flat
Scotty’s Castle: a historical villa in the Spanish-colonial revival style
Stovepipe Wells: in addition to Furnace Creek one of the scarce inhabited places in the Valley
Ubehebe Crater: a volcano crater
Death Valley was already a National Monument since 1933. But it only just called out as a National Park in 1994 by president Bill Clinton, and was expanded to the size it is today.