Summer is heating up, and it’s about to get even hotter. Located near the border of California and Nevada in the Great Basin, this next stop in our summer travel series is the hottest place on Earth. On July 10, 1913, the temperature in this National Park was 134°F. Fill up your jugs of water, strap on your hiking boots, and pack your water misting fans. Summer travelers, we hope you’re ready for Death Valley National Park in Inyo County, California!
Death Valley National Park Visitor Guide from the National Park Service (NPS) offers up all the knowledge you need to know to plan a wickedly awesome adventure. Safety first! This guide provides essential information on Death Valley Invasive Burros. The invasive burros in the park today are the descendants of animals introduced into the environment by humans over the last 150 years. They can be mean and aggressive, especially when defending their young. Before our trip, it’s crucial that we all read this guide for what to do if we see an invasive burro. Another important aspect of our trip to read up on is safety and park rules. With these temperatures, it’s essential that you drink at least one gallon of water per day. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous or have a headache, step away from the sun and drink plenty of water. You might even want to bring extra water and a towel to make a cold compress if necessary.
Did you know that GPS devices will steer you to take “shortcuts” over the desert and into canyons? When you’re out hiking Death Valley, don’t rely on technology to get you around! Remember, we will be in the middle of the desert, so assume cell service will be spotty. These are just a few safety tips. Check out the Visitor Guide for them all. Okay, now it’s on to the fun stuff! You might not have liked your early wake-up call, but there is a reason we got to the park so early. We’re going to Zabriskie Point, known for its golden badlands, to see the sunrise. Next, we’ll hit Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, and Artists Drive, which the guide describes as “a scenic loop drive through multi-hued hills.” If you’re feeling up for a long adventure, you might check out Ubehebe Crater. This breathtaking site was created hundreds of years ago after a volcanic explosion mixed with an underground spring to form a 600-foot crater.
So little time, so much to do! Read the do-not-miss list in the guide to get suggestions on other must-see spots at the park. The sun is finally going down, and we cannot wait to catch a view of the Death Valley night sky at The Harmony Borax Works, which has a mule cart, a neat backdrop for night photography. Did you know Death Valley has one of the darkest skies in the United States? Bring some snacks for stargazing – we plan on oohing and aahing for at least 30 minutes. According to the visitor’s guide, it takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to being able to see the most stars. And we want to see them all!
With Death Valley National Park Junior Ranger Adventure in tow, little ones who visit Death Valley can become an Official Junior Ranger. This booklet guides you through what to pack for your adventure to Death Valley. It also offers a map for kids to circle the places they have visited at the park. As they explore the park, kids can play Junior Ranger Bingo, marking spots for completing tasks like finding a plant on the dunes, spotting a cactus, and recording the temperature. Other activities in the booklet include creating a desert animal, exploring the night sky, and telling tall tales like Death Valley Scotty. This storyteller became famous for suggesting he had found gold in Death Valley. People frequented his castle to hear his stories about Death Valley and find out if they could strike it rich there. Scotty’s Castle is currently closed, but reopening to the public in 2020. When you’re all finished at the park, head to a visitor center or ranger station in Death Valley National Park. Show a ranger the book and tell them all about your adventure. Then your little ranger will be sworn in as an official Junior Ranger and get a badge. For being the hottest place on Earth, that’s pretty cool!
With views of dunes and rainbow canyons, Death Valley is one of the most spectacular sites we may have ever seen. We’re so glad you brought along plenty of water to stay hydrated enough to enjoy the activities. See you next time, travelers!
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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.
Images courtesy of NPS.