Death Valley is not your typical American National Park. It’s a region of extremes… extreme temperatures… extreme geology… extreme history… extreme scenery. Death Valley could be considered a rebel amongst Americas National Parks and caters to those who are looking for an escape from the ordinary, and a refuge from cold in winter.
Death Valley is most popular in the late fall and winter months when the rest of the country is shivering under the icy chill of winter and a blanket of snow. Death Valley beckons ‘snow-birds’ from across the upper latitudes of north America with her dry desert climate and her persuasively mild temperatures.
Death Valley National Park is a large park, covering more than 3 million acres, roughly 1 1/2 times the size of Delaware. It is also a region of uncompromising beauty and scenic wonder all it’s own.
Death Valley is a popular destination throughout the year, but even more so in the winter months, and activities such as hiking, biking and horseback riding are all popular sports within the area.
Death Valley provides habitat to more than 56 kinds of mammal, 36 variations of reptile, several sorts of amphibians and fish species, and more than 400 unique species of birds have been spotted within the park.
Some of the variations of mammals include bighorn sheep, foxes, coyotes, squirrels, rodents, jackrabbits, bats and more. There can also be found a wide variety of reptiles within the borders of Death Valley such as the Zebra-tailed lizard, a fast running, insectivorous inhabitant of the desert flats, washes and plains. Another interesting reptile is the desert horned lizard a moderately sized lizard with pointed scales that protrude from it’s head and body in the shape of horns. Only the ‘horns’ on it’s head are rigid, the rest of the horn-like scales are soft and feel more like normal reptile skin. One interesting thing about the horned lizard is it’s ability to shoot a stream of blood from the corner of it’s eyes when it is threatened by a predator. This creates a distraction and allows the lizard an opportunity to escape.
Death Valley is also known for it’s many interesting ghost towns. Most of these ghost towns were mining towns that sprung up in the late 1800’s to mid 1900 when gold, silver and copper ore was found in the area. The largest of the ghost towns in Death Valley is the town of Rhyolite. During it’s heyday, this town had a population of 5,000 to 10,000 residents. The town consisted of two churches, fifty saloons, eighteen stores, nineteen lodging houses, a stock exchange, an operahouse and more. Today, several ruins exist in Rhyolite including a Bottle house, the Rhyolite train depot, remains of a 3-story bank building and the jail. Rhyolite is located approximately 4 miles west of the town of Beatty on the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park.
To learn more about Death Valley lodging, activities and tourist attractions, visit NationalParkReservations.com/deathvalley.htm There you will find a complete listing of lodging options both inside the park as well as near the parks perimeter. You can also learn more about Death Valley’s many ghost towns and other tourist attractions at the National Park Reservations site.
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