Death Valley National Park

DeathValley (3)Between two of California’s highest mountain ranges lies Death Valley: the lowest and hottest place in America.  A product of rare geological processes, this area receives only 2 inches of rainfall a year, and has seen temperatures as high as 134 degrees Fahrenheit!  It’s amazing that any life survives here at all, but as you can see there are a few creatures and plants here and there.

The high temperature for our trip was only 90 degrees, which made for quite an enjoyable day!  We were once again spoiled by desert colors as wildflowers and cacti around the valley were still in full Spring bloom.  Even diminutive “Salt Creek” was flowing, it’s inch-deep waters just enough for playful Pupfish to struggle and fight over the deeper pockets.

The Park’s highest elevation is “Dante’s Peak” at 5,500 feet, which looks down upon “Badwater Basin”, the lowest place in America at 282 feet below sea level!  There, specially-adapted snails and larvae eek-out an existence in briny pools beneath a sweltering sun.  A large portion of the valley’s floor is a salty Borax crust, which was mined, refined, and carted-off in wagons by 20-mule teams in the 1880s.

We were among the first to drive the newly paved road to “Artist’s Palette”, a colorful collection of rocks, that had just opened 5 minutes prior to our sunset visit.
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