The name Death Valley conjures up thoughts of barrenness and gloom. However, in the valley, most of which is below sea level, and the surrounding mountains, magnificent wildflowers, snow capped peaks, beautiful sand dunes, and abundant wildlife make Death Valley NP a wonderfully alive place. Be warned, the scorching heat of the valley makes it the hottest place in North America.
You can imagine that Death Valley was not always as hospitable to tourism as it is today. However, shortly after becoming President in March 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed for legislation that would get the country back on its feet after the Great Depression. To this end, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established. The CCC recruited unemployed young men from all over the country to work on national lands under the supervision of the army reserve.
Over the next nine years, 1200 men endured the Death Valley weather system to transform the place into a natural tourist attraction. They build barracks, laid 500 miles of roads, installed water and telephone lines, and built 76 buildings among other things. They were paid $25 per month ($5 for the men and $20 for their families). However, these men were among the first to be called to war, and by May 1942 they had all left Death Valley. Their work to make Death Valley NP a place that Americans could enjoy cannot be overlooked.
Several ghost towns are located in the region. These towns sprang up to accommodate those who mined for gold, silver, copper, lead, and other elements. However, when the mines dried up or never yielded anything, these towns were abandoned.
Exploring these desolate towns is only one of the many activities to enjoy in Death Valley NP. Visitors can also:
•View awesome sunrises and sunsets
•Go backpacking into the 350 miles of backcountry
•Camp in one of several campgrounds
•Hike into canyons or old mines
•Bike through the valley
To ensure that your trip is a great experience, keep in mind that the Death Valley weather system is generally sunny, dry, and clear throughout the year. Winters are mild, but summers are dry and ultra hot. Temperatures are consistently more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, comfortable sportswear, sturdy walking shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water are needed.
Death Valley NP is far from dead. It contains an abundance wildlife, vegetation, and beautiful scenery. Imagine walking into a desolate town that was once full of life, hiking up into an old mine, or witnessing the myriad of moods in the valley at sunset. Whether driving, walking, hiking, or biking, the wonders of this sizzling and parched place are sure to be unforgettable.