Death Valley National Park is located in Nevada, east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts in the United States. There are two major valleys in the park, Death Valley and Panamint Valley. The park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve. Approximately 95% of the park is a designated wilderness area. It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in Death Valley 24the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 280 feet (85 m) below sea level. The park is 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.

Native American groups inhabited the area known as the Timbisha (“Red Rock Face Paint”) Shoshone who migrated between winter camps in the valleys and summer grounds in the mountains. The name “Death Valley” comes from a group of European-Americans who became stuck in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California. Death Valley 03Several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams. Borax is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. The valley later became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies. Tourism blossomed in the 1920s when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994. The park is designated as the largest Dark Sky National Park in the country by the International Dark Sky Association. The National Park Service has taken measures to minimize light pollution in the area. It was a great place to go stargazing since the park is designated as the “Gold Tier” Dark Sky Park, the highest level awarded.


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Death Valley National Park