Death Valley National Park   4 comments

Death Valley NP 00Where Is It: The Park is 130 miles west of Las Vegas, NV.

The Birth: President Herbert Hoover created a national monument in and around Death Valley when he signed enabling legislation on February 11, 1933. It set aside almost 2,000,000 acres of land in southwestern Nevada and, largely, southeastern California. On October 31, 1994, the Desert Protection Act was signed by President Clinton. That Act expanded the Monument by 1,300,000 acres and changed the Monument into a National Park. It is the largest National Park in the contiguous United States.

It Happened Here: From Wikipedia:

The ores that are most famously associated with the area were also the easiest to collect and the most profitable: evaporite deposits such as salts, borate and talc. William Tell Coleman built the Harmony Borax Works plant and began to process ore in late 1883 or early 1884, continuing until 1888. This mining and smelting company produced borax to make soap and for industrial uses. The end product was shipped out of the valley 165 miles to the Mojave railhead in 10-ton-capacity wagons pulled by “twenty-mule teams” that were actually teams of 18 mules and two horses each. The teams averaged two miles an hour and required about 30 days to complete a round trip. The trade name 20-Mule Team Borax was established by Francis Marion Smith’s Pacific Coast Borax Company after Smith acquired Coleman’s borax holdings in 1890. A memorable advertising campaign used the wagon’s image to promote the Boraxo brand of granular hand soap and the Death Valley Days radio and television programs. In 1914, the Death Valley Railroad was built to serve mining operations on the east side of the valley. Mining continued after the collapse of Coleman’s empire, and by the late 1920s the area was the world’s number one source of borax. Some four to six million years old, the Furnace Creek Formation is the primary source of borate minerals gathered from Death Valley’s playas.

In 1976 Congress passed the Mining in the Parks Act, which closed Death Valley National Monument to the filing of new mining claims, banned open-pit mining and required the National Park Service to examine the validity of tens of thousands of pre-1976 mining claims. Mining was allowed to resume on a limited basis in 1980 with stricter environmental standards. The park’s Resources Management Division monitors mining within park boundaries and continues to review the status of 125 unpatented mining claims and 19 patented claim groups, while ensuring that federal guidelines are followed and the park’s resources are protected. In 2005, the Billie Mine, an underground borax mine located along the road to Dante’s View, closed, ending mining in the park.

Size: 3,373,063 acres

# Visitors: 951,972 visitors in 2013. Attendance peaks in March, and is at its lowest during the heat of the summer months

Plants: From the Park’s website:

Despite its reputation as a lifeless wasteland, Death Valley National Park contains a great diversity of plants. The park covers over 3 million acres of Mojave and Great Basin desert terrain, with elevations ranging from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin to 11,049 feet on the summit of Telescope Peak. Annual precipitation varies from 1.9 inches on the valley floor to over 15 inches in the higher mountains.

Vegetation zones include creosote bush, desert holly, and mesquite at the lower elevations up through shadscale, blackbrush, Joshua tree, pinyon-juniper, to sub-alpine limber pine and bristlecone pine woodlands. The saltpan is devoid of vegetation, and the rest of the valley floor and lower slopes have sparse cover, yet where water is available, an abundance of vegetation is usually present.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

Death Valley’s great range of elevations and habitats support a variety of wildlife species, including 51 species of native mammals, 307 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, three species of amphibians, and five species and one subspecies of native fishes. Small mammals are more numerous than large mammals, such as desert bighorn, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, and mule deer.

Choices: From National

The highest mountain in the park, 11,049-foot Telescope Peak, lies only 15 miles from Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the U.S. The vertical drop from the peak to Badwater Basin is twice the depth of the Grand Canyon.

Fees: $20 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.

Staying There: There are 138 campsites in Furnace Creek Campground, open October – April. There are 8 other campgrounds; rates range from $10 – $16 per night. Some take reservations.

Contact Info:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328
Visitor Information, (760) 786-3200

Don’t Miss This: Death Valley was used by director George Lucas as a filming location for Star Wars, providing the setting for the planet Tatooine.



National Park Service: Death Valley National Park

The Ecosystem of Death Valley: Death Valley National Park

Jason’s Travels: A Las Vegas Trip To Death Valley National Park

YouTube: Death Valley Death Valley National Park

4 responses to “Death Valley National Park

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: The Fire Above, The Desert Below |

  2. Pingback:

  3. Pingback: Superbloom |

  4. Pingback: California Is Colorful |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.