Exploring Death Valley

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If you have never visited Death Valley before, there is a reason that it has this name. There is not a lot of life here and with the hot temperatures and lack of water, a lot of animals, including humans, can end up dead if they are not careful. This being said it is still a very popular place to visit and explore and has some amazing landscapes. A great way to experience this hostile place is to hike through one of the many paths that there are. This is not for the faint hearted or inexperienced though and you do need to be well prepared before setting out on what will be a very memorable experience.

The Terrain

There are various trails you can take in this area which have differing degrees of difficulty;

  • Desolation Canyon
  • Badwater Salt Flat
  • Gower Gulch Loop
  • Mosaic Canyon
  • Devil’s Gold Course

The type of terrain that is on offer here is quite differing in places, from rolling sand dunes to rocky outcrops and salt flats in between. The average trail that people travel will be anywhere from only 1 mile, up to 4 or 5 miles round trip. This means that you should be able to find something suitable for all fitness levels.

Preparation

Being prepared is essential when you are traveling in a climate such as Death Valley. The temperature can get in excess of 130°F and Badwater Basin holds the world record for the highest air temperature which was recorded at 134°F. This is partly because it is the lowest point in the US being some 86 meters below sea level. Temperatures can vary greatly though just as the conditions can, so preparation is very important.

  • Sun Screen
  • Water
  • Good Footwear
  • Medical Kit
  • Food
  • Clothing

You will need to make sure that you have all of these things in place before setting out. Clothing is very important as although the temperature can get very hot, it can also get very cold at night so you need to prepare for any eventuality. Taking enough drinking water with you is also essential as it is very unlikely you will find anything to drink on your journey as this region gets around 38mm of rainfall annually each year. Always make sure that you take more food, water and equipment than you need for your planned journey as you never know what is going to happen. Generally you will not get a mobile phone signal here so you need to inform either the park rangers or your hotel of your plans and timeframe, so that someone will know if you do not return due to accident or what have you.

Where to Stay?

Death Valley National Park has facilities for you to camp if required, as well as facilities for an RV (Recreational Vehicle) as well. If you are not into either of these then there are hotels in the area such as the Furnace Creek Resort. You can also go on organized tours of the area and package deals which include your accommodation can be bought. These will also provide all of the equipment required as well as having a qualified guide to lead you as well. This may make things a bit easier for you and also stop your friends and family from worrying about you!

When to Go?

The National Park and its facilities are open year round, however, you may wish to choose the time of year you visit to coincide with the cooler season. By far the hotter months are June, July and August where the average temperature is around the mid to high 120’s. This is a dry heat so it is a lot more bearable than if t was humid, that being said it is still far too hot for a lot of people. February or March is a god time of year to visit with the temperature being below 100°F and being a lot more bearable. When ever and where ever you decide to go in this amazing national park, make sure you are ready to get hot and bring plenty of sun block!

Photo credit: Bust it Away Photography

This article was written by Ted Hunter. Ted enjoys travelling across the world and commentating on his adventures. He loves writing reviews including TravelRepublic.co.uk reviews.

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