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Death Valley Featured Destination:

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley, California

Ironically, there's a lot of life in Death Valley. Despite being one of the hottest places on Earth, capturing a record temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913, thousands of plants and hundreds of animals manage to survive across a diverse landscape from salt-caked valley to mountainous woodland.

The morose park name may scare some away, but not bold travelers into extremes. It's not often that you can say that you've been to the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America, 282 feet below sea level with only two inches of rainfall every year. A visit to this rugged outpost, encompassing the Mojave Desert, is a chance to see how tough you are and match your mettle against that of nocturnal rodents, ingenious reptiles and wily coyotes.

You could learn a thing or two from the coyote, the ultimate opportunist, by covering as much ground as you can hike or bike in this three million acre park, the largest outside of Alaska. While the coyote is in search of anything worth eating, you're in search of geological wonders and otherworldly vistas.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Death Valley is anytime other than the summer, when temperatures soar above 120 degrees. By May, temperatures average 99 degrees. The park says spring is its most popular time of year, when wildflowers bloom and blanket its foothills, desert slopes and woodlands in gold, purple and pink.

What to Do:

Head to the parched and peeling salt flats at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, a photographer's dream. The flats are in the park's Furnace Creek area, along with the Devil's Golf Course, not to be confused with a real golf course. But, if the devil had a golf game, it would be challenged on this jagged terrain. You can see supernatural forces at play in the Scotty's Castle area where rocks mysteriously move across a dry lakebed, leaving a dusty trail and scientists stumped. The Eureka sand dunes here are among the tallest in North America, standing 680 feet tall. Attempt a climb and you may be rewarded by the sound of singing sand or rare life forms, strange beetles and plants only found here. Get Directions

Other Death Valley Destinations:

  • Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert, Ash Meadows is home to nearly 30 species of wildlife that can't be seen anywhere else on the planet. Get Directions
  • Panamint Springs. From Darwin Falls - a waterfall that flows year-round in the desert - to the abundant Joshua trees in the area, and from the viewpoint at Father Crowley Vista, to the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, the Panamint Springs area is a must-see in Death Valley. Get Directions
  • Badwater Basin. Badwater Basin is one of the largest protected salt flats in the world, spanning almost 200 square miles across Death Valley, and is 282 feet below sea level, making it the lowest point in North America. Get Directions
  • Titus Canyon. Explore the ghost towns of Rhyolite and Leadfield, drive along the Titus Canyon Road, see 30-35 million year old fossil beds at Titanothere Canyon, and keep an eye out for bighorn sheep at Klare Spring. Get Directions
  • Trona Pinnacles. Over 500 tufa pinnacles rise up from the desert landscape, some as much as 140 feet high. It is best to visit these unique desert spires in the spring, autumn or winter, as summer months can be brutally hot. Get Directions

Explore the Death Valley:

 

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