Death Valley National Park

241-201205132335_DeathValley_TCzarnecki137Death Valley National Park lies within U.S. states of California and Nevada located east of the Sierra Nevada. It occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts in the United States. The park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve. It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 86 m below sea level. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, Bighorn Sheep, Coyote, and the Death Valley Pupfish, a survivor of much wetter times.

A series of Native American groups inhabited the area from as early as 7000 BCE, most recently the Timbisha, who who migrated between winter camps in the valleys and summer grounds in the mountains as early as around 1000 AD. A group of European-Americans that became stuck in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California gave the valley its name, even though only one of their group died there. Death Valley was declared National Monument in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994.

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