Death Valley is a valley in the Mojaves Desert in California; it is part of the Death Valley National Park. This area has the lowest point in the United States, at 85.5 metres below sea level. The highest temperature recorded on Earth was on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek with 56.7°C.
Located near the border of California and Nevada in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Death Valley is a large part of the Death Valley National Park and is the main feature of the Mojave and Colorado Desert Biosphere Reserve. It is located mainly in Inyo County, California. It extends from north to south between the Amargosa Range in the east and the Panamint Range in the west; Grapevine Mountains and Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, the highest point in the Valley of Death is Telescope Peak, which stands at 11,366 m.
The reputation of the Death Valley is colossal, it is extremely hot and dry as during the years 1929 and 1953 it did not rain a single drop of water all year round. The temperature records are 54°C and 93°C on the ground. Death Valley has a subtropical, hot and desert climate with long and extremely hot summers and short and mild winters, as well as little rainfall.
The extreme heat of the Death Valley is due to a confluence of geographical and topographical factors. Scientists have identified a number of key factors that have contributed to the very hot conditions in the Valley of Death:
Solar heating: The valley surface (composed of soil, rocks, sand, etc.) is subject to intense solar heating due to clear, dry air and dark, poorly vegetated land. This is particularly visible in summer when the sun is directly above the head.
Air sinks and warms: Any air mass sinking into low altitudes is compressed and heated due to higher atmospheric pressure at low altitudes. This is an example of adiabatic warming.
Warm air entrapment: Warm air rises and cools naturally, but in the Death Valley, this air is subject to continuous heating because it is trapped by high, steep valley walls and recycled to the bottom of the valley.
Migration of warm air from other regions: The hot desert regions surrounding the Death Valley, especially in the south and east, often heat the air before it reaches the Death Valley.
Hot mountain winds: As winds are pushed up and over the mountains, the winds can become progressively warmer due to several factors. The resulting dry and warm winds are called foehn winds. Their heat can be partly caused by the release of latent heat, which occurs when water vapour condenses into clouds.
There is not only heat in the Death Valley, there are many activities to do and things to discover such as:
Furnace Greek: Furnace Greek is a small hamlet that houses the Death Valley National Park Visitor Centre and the Furnace Creek Resort, the hotel with the best access to the park.
Panoramic roads: There are several scenic roads through the national park to drive and not necessarily by 4×4. These roads represent magnificent landscapes to contemplate and take pictures.
Hikes: There is a wide range of hikes to do in the Death Valley, but one of the easiest is an 800m route to admire the Natural Bridge Canyon, you can access it from Badwater Road.
Bird migration: The species of birds migrating to Death Valley are extremely numerous, the show is magnificent and lasts several weeks in spring and then in autumn.
Scotty’s Castle: Built in the 1920s, it is an old Hispanic-style mansion that represents a unique attraction in the Valley of Death.