Death Valley National Park is a place that lives up to its name. A place that resembles a barren wasteland of nothing and little opportunity for life. A place of extreme heat and discomfort. To the unaware not much else holds meaning here, but if you change your perspective and know where to look, you'll find enchantment and beauty where you least expect it.
Death Valley gets its name and unique ecosystem from the sweltering heat. The record high temperature here was set in July of 1913 at 134° F. There are many dangers to warrant here, but extreme heat and dehydration should be your two biggest concerns. Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the Sun as much as possible. Be aware of the forecast and temperatures. A minimum of one gallon of water should be consumed per person daily. This helps keep your body hydrated, cool, and functioning properly.
Many think of Death Valley as a lifeless place, but it's quite the opposite. Beautiful flora and fauna can be found here. Two well known animals you might get to see here are the road runner and the coyote. Reptiles are in abundance and thrive here in the warm temps.
When flowers are in bloom the park shows new life and vibrant color that contrasts against the normal Earth tones. Some park favorites include Beavertail Cactus, Salvia Funerea, and the Eureka Dunes Evening Primrose. But when thinking of some of the more famous flora in the area I can't help but think of the Joshua Tree.
A hidden gym of the park and great destination to beat the heat is Dante's Ridge. Unfortunately it's a 4.5 mile hike, and you can easily become exhausted doing so. However, there are several other hikes that will knock your socks off that aren't as strenuous, and many of them are canyon based which will provide you with a nicely shaded retreat. If you're looking for the ultimate location I would recommend Darwin Falls. You're looking at a 2 mile round trip moderate hike with year round waterfalls and vegetation thriving through the canyon. Don't take this hidden gem for granted though, it can be very dangerous with cliff drops along trails overgrown with vegetation.
Another extreme of the area is the total elevation change. The lowest point of elevation in North America is found here at Badwater Basin, reaching 282' below sea level! If that wasn't outstanding on its own, the opposite of that coin can be found a mere 84 miles away at the summit of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48, reaching an elevation of 14,505!
With warmer cold weather temperatures, Death Valley National Park is the perfect Winter retreat for snowbirds and explorers searching for warmer weather outdoor excitement during the Winter months.