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Death Valley; with its intriguing and dark name, really deserves to be featured on any website about California. Questions must be answered. Why is it called in that way? Why should anyone visit the valley? And where can it be found? Well, we’ll answer some of those questions here.
One of the reasons that anyone should visit Death Valley, aside from just being able to say that you’ve been in a place with such a good name, is that it is the place of lowest elevation within Northern America, at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level and, lying southeast of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, makes up most of the Death Valley National Park. Its reach spans approximately 3,000 miles, so this is not a place in which you want to get lost late in the evening. Its lowest point, specifically, is called Badwater, whose name was given due to its water, which is undrinkable due to its high salt content. Interestingly, Badwater is located just 76 miles (123 km) from Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.
Within the park, there are spots with names even more formidable than the valley itself; Funeral Mountains, Coffin Peak, Hell's Gate, Starvation Canyon and Dead Man Pass, which all reflect the struggles, fears and turmoil experienced by the first pioneers who traversed, inhabited and mined the region during the end of the last century.
Despite the issues that these first pioneers had to face, visitors to the park today will find a place of striking, unique and breathtaking beauty. The area boasts beautifully colorful rocks and canyons, yards and yards of tranquil sand dunes, and a wide range of wildlife, which may not be initially visible to the naked eye, but its there. History addicts will have plenty to tickle their appetite, as the park is laden with 150 years of history, which gives us a glimpse of how the early settlers must have lived; charcoal kilns, metal ore mines and ghost towns can all be seen. The Shoshone Indians who lived here even earlier also left more than their fair share of evidence; petroglyphs and ancient foot trails remain in the park. Another Native American tribe, the Timbisha (in English: “Red Rock Facepaint”) still live in Death Valley, and have lived there for over 1000 years.
One of the reasons that Death Valley was given its name is surely due to its temperatures which can soar to 130° F (54 °C) in the day in the summer, to below freezing at night in the winter. The hottest temperature even recorded within the United States was 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek, while at the same spot, a low of 15 °F (-9 °C) was also once experienced. Yes, Death Valley is a formidable place but also one which is full of beauty and wonder, so is a must-see on your trip to California.