Discover Death Valley National Park and it's complex and diverse ecosystem!
At nearly 3.4 million acres, Death Valley National Park stands as the largest national park site outside of Alaska. The park is significantly larger than the state of Connecticut. Approximately 97 percent of the park is legally-designated wilderness. The park, combined with the surrounding Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas, is the largest expanse of desert wilderness in North America.
Death Valley is well known for being the not only the lowest point in North America, but also the driest and hottest place on the continent. Death Valley is much, much more than a large, parched and inhospitable landscape. Certainly, the extreme environments provide both scientific value and visitor attraction, but also present is a wide assortment and variety of gradients that produce a rich and varied biologic diversity. For example, the park contains over 1,200 species of native plants. In addition, there are many endemic species of wildlife within the Death Valley region. The many environmental gradients produce diverse natural physical processes as well.
Besides this richness in natural and cultural resources, the park contains a wide assortment of landscape features. The three major valleys consist of the Panamint Valley, Saline Valley and the world-famous Death Valley. There are several dunes in the park, such as Stovepipe Dunes, Panamint Dunes, Marble Dunes, Ibex Dunes, and the ecologically significant Eureka Dunes. There are approximately 12 mountain ranges, such as the Panamint, Saline, and Last Chance Ranges, and the Panamint, Owlshead, Cottonwood, Grapevine, Black, and Funeral Mountains. In addition, there are lesser mountain ranges such as the Ibex Hills, Greenwater Range, Santa Rosa Hills, Bullfrog Hills, and Nelson Range. There are approximately 1,000 freshwater springs, including major regional springs such as Texas, Travertine, and Grapevine Springs to perennial creeks such as Salt Creek, Darwin Falls and Surprise Canyon. There are also salt pans and crusts, playas, pools of saline water, lower/mid/and upper elevation valleys, slopes and plateaus, dunes, mountains, caves and wetlands.
In such a large and diverse landscape of extremes, there are occasional anomalies, such as: Salt Creek, Devils Hole, Cottonball Marsh, Saline Marsh, Saratoga Spring, the mysterious moving rocks in the racetrack Playa, and the Saline Valley hot springs known collectively as Warm Springs.
From the 11,049-foot forested summit of Telescope Peak down to the Badwater Basin salt pan at -282-feet, Death Valley National Park contains abundant habitat and species richness. The diversity of all life forms and how these species adapt to the various habitats within the park is astounding. Death Valley is home despite nature's extremes.