Death Valley, tourism in the United States

As its name suggests, Death Valley looks like a death Valley: It is huge, it is desert, it is gray, it seems that it does not contain life. It is a valley with national park own and even when it has gray landscapes it is part of a Biosphere Reserve.

We do not usually talk much about the tourist attractions of the United States outside its best-known cities, but without a doubt such a large country has many destinations and this valley is one of them. Let's find out.

Death Valley

It's in eastern California, on the border with Nevada, and it is one of the hottest and driest places in the world when summer reigns. It is part of the Mojave Desert and has an area of ​​around 7800 square kilometers. It is the largest American national park outside of Alaska and its landscapes include sand dunes, canyons, oasis and high mountains.

The name by which it is known today was received during the California Gold Rush in the mid-24th century. It was so hard to cross it, so hard to live XNUMX hours under the burning sun of its skies, that death was commonplace. Despite the harsh environment in this valley, some popular series and movies have been filmed worldwide, such as Star Wars.

And of course it is also a place inhabited by humans for hundreds of years. The local tribe is the Timbisha Shoshone and to this day many corners of the valley are still considered by them, sacred places.

When the exploitation of borax and silver began at the end of the XNUMXth century Chinese miners arrived. They built the city of Panamint but did not stay. The Japanese, Americans but suspected of treason during World War II, were held here in a camp, Campo Manzanar, in 1942.

Nature in Death Valley

Something lives among these sand dunes, dramatic canyons, and barren lands. Despite the low altitude, despite the tremendous heat that has reached more than 55 ºC in the middle of summer. In the matter of animals there are more than 400 species, some more adapted than others to such a scenario because you have to be a magician to find water. Thus, there are desert tortoises, coyotes, rabbits, kangaroo rats and a huge compendium of amphibians, mammalian reptiles, birds, fish and yes, butterflies too.

Regarding flora, despite everything, there is also a lot of diversity. There are areas with vegetation, with some pine trees and shrubs, in places with water where the water manages to get underground. Of course, the kings of the desert are the cactus and succulents although in spring and summer some wild flowers more colorful.

Visit Death Valley

In the United States the usual thing is to rent a car because it is a huge country. The main highway that cuts through Death Valley National Park is the California Highway 190. The park is open all year on a schedule that is usually unchanged: from 12 noon to 12 at night.

El Furnace Creek Visitor Center open from 8 am to 5 pm, every day of the week. Here there is a museum and a 20-minute film about the park and its history is shown. It is great to stop by before the specific visit to be able to appreciate it better. Accommodations? There are many camps: the camp that is in this place is also open all year round but reservations are only accepted from October 15 to April 15.

The other campground, the Texas Springs Campground is generally open from mid-October to mid-April and there are no prior reservations, if you arrive and there is space, it is yours. The Sunset Camp opens on the same dates and with the same methodology, and the Stovepipe Wells Camp opens from October 15 to May 10, in general. There are other camps, Wildrose, open all year, Emigrant, and Thorndike.

But are there only camps? No too there are hotels of different categories. Within the park is the Stovepipe Wells Village, a resort, the Oasis at Death valley with its hotel and the ranch, open all year, Panamint Springs Resort. Outside the park, lodging is available in surrounding communities such as Beatty, Las Vegas or Pahrump, in Nevada, Shoshone, Lone Pine, Ridgecrest or Bishop, in California.

When should you go to Death Valley? Well, when it's not midsummer. Fall comes to the park in late October but the temperatures are still pleasantly warm and the skies remain clear. In winter the days are cool, with even cooler nights and, sometimes, the odd storm. The postcards, with the peaks of the highest peaks with snow, are stupendous. But the most popular and tourist season is spring. Wild flowers are added to the heat and days in full sun.

We talk about the accommodation and the nature of the park, but what tourist activities are done in Death Valley? Well under the sky you can walk and contemplate the landscapes, you can climb or do hiking, riding 4x4 trucks, mountain biking, bird watching or sign up for guided tours or tours like the one about Star Wars. The majesty of the park will take your breath away.

With regard to indoor activities there are two: on the one hand you can visit the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and on the other is the Scotty Castle, a Spanish-style mansion built in the '20s and' 30s of the XNUMXth century, with tunnels and all, which is sometimes open to the public with guided tours and also has a museum and a snack bar. It is closed at the moment, but before you go, take a look around the website and you may find that it is already working again.

This castle-mansion was the dream of an engineer named Albert Mussey Johnson, a vacation home, on vacation, together with the help of his friend Walter Scott, cowboy and funny guy who ultimately gave the house its name.

As you can see, the valley of death is not an empty and terrifying place. On the contrary, its gray landscapes are full of life.

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