DOTW: Death Valley National Park

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-22-2003
DOTW: Death Valley National Park
Mon, 03-01-2004 - 4:17pm

Death Valley's outstanding natural beauty and scientific importance were first brought to the attention of the National Park Service in the late 20's. With the support of Stephen T. Mather, Director of the National Park Service, Death Valley's national significance was recognized, and it was proclaimed a national monument by President Hoover on February 11, 1933. With the passage of the Desert Protection Act of October 31, 1994, Death Valley grew by 1,200,000 acres and was designated a national park. Today Death Valley National Park is made up of 3,336,000 acres and contains more than 3,000,000 acres of wilderness.

Death Valley, the name is foreboding and gloomy. Yet here in this valley, much of it below sea level, or in its surrounding mountains you can find spectacular wildflower displays, snow covered peaks, beautiful sand dunes, abandoned mines and industrial structures, and the hottest place in North America.

G.K. Gilbert, a geologist who worked in the area in the 1870's, noted that the rock formations were "beautifully delineated on the slopes of the distant mountains, revealing at a glance relations that in a fertile country would appear only as the results of extended and laborious investigation." The rock layers that Gilbert notices comprised a nearly complete record of the earth's past, but that record has been jumbled out of sequence. The reason is that the rock layers that form the mountains are very ancient, but only in recent geologic time have they risen.

Even as the mountains rose, erosion began to wear them down. An example of this is the formation of the alluvial fans. Intermittent streams, resulting mostly from the bursts of infrequent rains, rush down the steep canyons. It scours boulders, soil and other debris and pushes and carries the whole mass with it. It then deposits it on the valley floor at the canyon's mouth.

Death Valley National Park has nine campgrounds. They are Emigrant, Furnace Creek, Mahogany Flat, Mesquite Spring, Stovepipe Wells, Sunset, Texas Spring, Thorndike and Wildrose.

Furnace Creek, Mesquite Spring and Wildrose campgrounds are open year round. The following campgrounds will take reservations, Furnace Creek and Texas Spring takes group reservations. For reservations at these campgrounds, call 1-800-365-2267.

The Furnace Creek Campground is on a first come first served basis starting mid April. From mid October through mid April Furnace Creek Campground and the two group sites at Texas Springs Campground are on a reservation system. Around June 5th, campground reservations may be made for dates from mid October through the first of November ($16.00 per night) On the 5th of each month thereafter, campers will have access to another month of available dates - up to five months in advance. For example, calling on or after August 5th will allow reservations to be made from October 16th through January 4th. Calling on or after September 5th allows reservations from October 16th through February 4th. Subject to campsite availability, you may book reservations as late as one day prior to arrival. Call 1-800-365-2267 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Texas Springs campground is located in the Furnace Creek area and is open from October through early May. It is first come first served with self registration. From March 17 through May 8, Texas Springs is designated primarily for Tent Camping with a limited number of RV sites available.

Sunset campground (October through April) is also located in the Furnace Creek area and is first come first served with self registration.

The Stovepipe Wells campground (October through April) is also first come first served as is the Mesquite Spring campground (open all year) at the north end of the park near Scotty's Castle. Both campgrounds are $10.00 per night.

For the summer, reservations for the two Texas Springs campground group sites are available by calling 760- 786-3247. On line reservations are available by going to:

Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Sunset and Texas Spring campgrounds are wheelchair accessible.

Mahogany Flat, Thorndike and Wildrose campground seasons are open weather permitting. The road to Mahogany Flat and Thorndike campgrounds is not passable for trailers, campers or motor homes. Passenger cars are not advised, and 4-wheel drive may be necessary.

Mesquite Springs, Stovepipe Wells, Sunset and Texas Springs campgrounds are first come first served with self registration.

For more information on this fascinating place visit the official website at:

Be sure to read the section on ghost towns, there are several. As well as