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Death Valley Facts

Death Valley is North America’s lowest, hottest, and driest point. The valley got its name due to the hardships encountered by settlers crossing it. Death Valley is in the state of California.

This is a large valley more than 140 miles long and 4 to 16 miles wide.

Originally called the Panamint Shoshone, the Timbisha is the home to Native Americans dating back at least a thousand years. 

But people lived there longer than the Panamint Shoshone, as artifacts dating back to 9000 years prove. 

During the California Gold Rush in 1849, prospectors in Death Valley died during an expedition. 

Death Valley was made a National Monument by President Herbert Hoover on February 11th, 1933, which placed the region under federal protection. 

Death Valley became a national park in 1994. It also encompassed Eureka and Saline Valley.

Death Valley Facts for Kids

  • The Death Valley National Park covers an area of 3.4 million acres.
  • Death Valley is found in the Mojave Desert.
  • Mountains on all sides trap hot, dry air masses in Death Valley.
  • Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level
  • Death Valley’s hottest ever air temperature was 134°F.
  • You can find animals like Desert Bighorn Sheep, Coyote, and Sidewinder Rattlesnake in the valley.

History

Named in 1849, Death Valley is one of the lowest points in California. Many people died trying to cross the valley during the California Gold Rush because it was so hot and dry. 

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Facts for Kids

Water is scarce because water evaporates into the atmosphere before it even touches the ground. Most Death Valley residents were miners, especially of borax.

Death Valley National Park

This national park is located in California and Nevada in the United States. It was designated a national monument in 1933 and a national park in 1994. Death Valley National Park covers 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2)

The park is located in the Great Basin between the Mojave and Great Basin deserts. Its terrain is more varied than most deserts: salt flats, dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, mountains.

An International Biosphere Reserve is the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Almost the entire park is wilderness. The park is the driest and hottest national park in the United States. 

Badwater Basin sits 282 feet below sea level, which is the second-lowest point in the western hemisphere. This harsh desert environment is home to many different kinds of plants and animals. There are also creosote bush, bighorn sheep, and coyotes.

What Animals Live In Death Valley

Desert Bighorn Sheep

These sheep are heavy-headed and stocky, weighing 52 to 127 kilograms as adults. 

They can climb steep and rocky desert terrain with ease, thanks to their concave elastic hooves. Also, they have sharp eyesight that helps them defend themselves. Their horns are easily recognized. 

They can survive without water for several months at a time. 

Humans’ interference in their habitat has made it hard for these sheep to thrive, despite having adapted to the harsh desert. Several factors, including excessive hunting and competition from domestic livestock, and loss of resources due to human activity, have depleted this species’ numbers. 

Desert bighorn sheep are protected under US federal law.

Sidewinder Rattlesnake

Sidewinders are highly venomous species of pit vipers. Generally, it varies between 43 and 76 cm in length. Females are usually larger than males. 

Colors range from buff to ash grey to pink. Besides the top of the head, there are also blotches on the dorsum. 

The snakes’ diet is made up of a mixture of animals ranging from rodents to reptiles, insects, etc.

Coyote

One of the fittest of all species, the coyote thrives in a wide range of environments, including Death Valley. 

Females weigh slightly less than males. The fur coat color often varies from light grey to fulvous.

Packs of coyotes tend to be closely knit. Their diet consists of rabbits, rats, reptiles, birds, etc. Sometimes they may sometimes eat plant parts as well.

Mountain Lion

There are several predators in Death Valley, but the lion is the apex predator. During winter, it comes down from the mountains surrounding the valley to the desert oasis. 

The species is highly adaptable, which allows it to thrive in a variety of harsh environments.

As an apex predator, it is capable of capturing a wide variety of prey. It prefers to hunt along the edges of trees and underbrush.

Learn More

Furnace Creek

Death Valley has the lowest golf course in the world. Furnace Creek Golf Course lies 214 below sea level. The summer heat makes it less popular with golfers. The average temperature in August is 113.9°F.

There is an average of 0.51 inches of rain in Death Valley in February.

Death Valley has Bristlecone Pines, and the Joshua Tree on its higher parts, but mostly it’s covered with low shrubs.

The Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley is up to 700 feet deep, and half a mile wide, and previous research has dated the crater to up to 7000 years old.

There was no rain recorded in Death Valley in 1929!

Located in Death Valley, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the United States, at 282 feet below sea level.

Death Valley received more rain than usual between mid-2004 and mid-2005.

Some snow accumulation was reported in January 1922, but it is usually only scattered flakes found across the region.

Death Valley has an annual rainfall of 1.5′′ compared to 3.9′′ for the Sahara desert.

Hot temperatures would be inhospitable to mammals in the desert, wouldn’t you think. However, the park has 52 species of mammals. These animals include squirrels, bats, chipmunks, mice, rats, rabbits, and foxes.