Information / Sources, Death Valley National Park
Located at the intersection of 374 and 190 is a rest area with a covered pic Nic table, Info, and a shared restroom. The trash can is in the restroom for obvious reasons (keep the critters out of it). I was surprised they had on here and very thankful.
Death Valley Directions and Information
Map with wonderful information
Crude shelters and tents once dotted the flat below you. Chinese workers slept and at there; other employees lived at what is now Furnace Creek Ranch. This 1892 photo taken after the works closed shows the borax works in the center of the view and the company village on the flat to the left. The financial problems of owner William T. Coleman and borax discoveries in other parts of California forced the Harmony operation to close in 1888 after five years of operation.
Directions to Death Valley
There is a trail you can take to other structures or drive. You can see them in the background.
San Francisco businessman William T. Coleman built this plant in 1881 to refine the "cottonball" borax found on the nearby salt flats. The high cost of transportation made if necessary to refine the borax here rather than carry both borax and waster to the railroad, 165 miles (265km) across the desert. This is how the works appeared about 1900, twelve years after the operation ceased.
Directions to Death Valley
I noticed a great deal that many adults and children didn't stop and take the time to read these plaques that the park goes to great length of up keep and by providing the information is a huge educational tool. I encourage my 12 year old to read each of the signs and we both enjoyed them very much!
Directions to Death Valley
This one reads: Refining Borax
Workers heated water in the boiling tanks, using an adjacent steam boiler.
Winching ore cart up the incline, they dumped the ore into the boiling tank.
Workers added carbonated soda. The borax dissolved, and the lime and mud settled out.
They drew off the borax liquid into the cooling vats, where it crystallized on hanging metal rods.
Lifting the rods out, they chipped off the now refined crystallized borax. To produce "concentrated" borax, they repeated the process.
For later transport, the workers bagged and stored the refined or concentrated borax in a barn that stood behind you.
Borax will not crystallize at temperatures abourt 120 degrees, so Harmony Borax Works stopped operating during summer.
To keep the crystallizing vats cool the rest of the year, workers wrapped them with water soaked felt padding, visible in the photograph.
Fondest memory: I will miss and cherish the adventure we all had that day! My oldest was fascinated by it all!
Favorite thing: Temperature is a major concern when visiting Death Valley, especially if you plan to explore the park on foot. Although this is an all year park, the heat from May through September averages in highs ranging from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, but can run above 120 degrees. Of these months, July is the hottest. For this reason, hiking in the low lands would be uncomfortable, and even dangerous during the summer months. The rest of the year, temperatures are more moderate, ranging from the 40s to the 80s, so you may even need a light to medium jacket. If the desert gets enough winter rains, spring flowers may be seen from late March to early April. The desert then comes alive with a beauty only seen during these wet years. Visit the official website for Death Valley to help you with your planning at: www.nps.gov/deva
The park ranges from anywhere at Furnance Creek 190 Feet to 282 Feet at Badwater and this is why you can get extreme weather conditions here. Although, I mentioned that the park services page offers a Road and Weather Conditions, there are lots of other weather web sites that do. Here is another link just in case you miss the parks morning report. I cannot illustrate enough the importance of checking the weather there.
Death Valley Weather MSN
20,000 years ago (or so) the remnants of the last ice age left Death Valley under a huge lake that was over 90 miles long, 6 to 11 miles wide, and up to 600 feet deep. It dried up by 10,000 years ago, except for a brief period 2,000 years ago when the lake was 30 feet deep. I got the information from the sign in the park. Just goes to show you that global warming isn't a recent trend.
This sign is just north of the Ashford Mill Ruins on Highway 178. That's Shoreline Butte again in the background.
Favorite thing: Services are few and far between, both in the area surrounding Death Valley and within the park itself. Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells both have gas stations and general stores. Its a good idea to stock up on supplies before entering the park, as both of these places are on the expensive side. The same is true for gas, but there's not much you can do about that.
Favorite thing: For some reason, the good folks at the National Park Service see fit to place these signs all over, lest one mistakenly believe he/she is traveling along at sea level, when in fact, one is 100 or so feet under the level of the sea. Perhaps the signs serve as a warning to beware of flooding. Since running water will flow downstream, its no secret that the risk of flood increases as elevation decreases. But, still, I suppose there's something interesting about knowing exactly how far below sea level one is at any given moment.
Visit the Death Valley Museum run by the National Park Service and located in the Furnace Creek Resort area. It provides a good introduction to the area with park rangers present to help visitors plan their stay. There are exhibits, interpretive programs, ranger led hikes and walks. In addition the usual guids/books, gifts & postcards are for sale.
The National Park fee can be paid here and free maps are available.
Fondest memory: Yup, beyond that sign we're going below sea level. Don't know why, but that sign saying "Elevation Sea Level" against a desert and mountainous background has been kept in my memory. Death Valley is unique in that there is a big part of the park that is below sea level, and of course the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere can be found here too.
The name derives from the 19th century, when inpatient new colonists in the ecstasy of the Goldfever in 1849, thought to take a shortcut to reach California faster. Instead of following the local guides, they risked their lives through the desert, where they lost most of their wagons, cattle and belongings. They arrived much later in California than the more patient colonists, who took the “long” way around. A few of them said: “Goodbye Death Valley".
Fondest memory: Entrance
The valley can be reached from the west through US 395 and California State Road 190 through Death Valley. From the east take US 95 and than decide which road to take into Death Valley, Nevada State Roads 374 or 373. From the north through US 95 and Nevada State Road 267. Finally from the south through Interstate 15 and California State Road 127 .
Can be reached through California State Road 190, approx. 25 m west of Death Valley Junction. A part of the visitor center is formed by the Death Valley Museum. Next to this museum you can visit The Harmony Borax Exhibition, that gives you an overview of history of salt mining.
The valley, that was once part of the ocean, became a dry nearly rainless spot by forming of the Sierra Mountain Range. The lake first changed into a salt lake and after that into a evaporation basin. In the end only the salty crust remained. Big parts of the valley are below sea level. Lowest point is Badwater at – 282 ft or – 85 m. Death Valley has some high neighbours like Telescope Peak 3315 m. The valley also has some very nice sanddunes.
Climate and ecology
In climatological and biological point of view Death Valley really look like a dead valley, but in higher regions and the cooler months you can meet an amazing lot of plants and animals. Of course it is not advisable to visit Death Valley in the heart of summer as temperature rises daily to 45-50 º C and with night temperatures over 30 º C. The best time of the year to visit are spring and fall. Although I think to experience the real desert summer is a better option.
Geological: Badwater, Devil’s Golf Course, Sanddunes, Artists Drive, Dante’s view, Zabriski Point and Ubehebe Crater.
Historical: Stovepipe Wells, Harmony Borax and Scotty’s Castle.
For those who only have 1 day to explore Death Valley I have made a tour along locations that you at least should have seen here. The tour can easily be done in half a day when you spend not too long at each place. If, however, you like to explore each location a bit more, you will have all day to do this itinerary:
1. Zabriskie Point
2. Devil's Golf Course
4. Artist's Palette
5. Mushroom Rock
If you have 1 or 2 more days in Death Valley, please go to the next tip!
On your second day in Death Valley, you can visit the following sites:
1. Devil's Corn Field
2. Sand Dunes
3. Scotty's Castle
4. Ubehebe Crater
Day 3 will take you outside the borders of Death Valley N.P. Stops will include:
1. Rhyolite Ghost Town
2. Titus Canyon
3. Salt Creek
This is a special place, an unhospitable environment of an extraordinary natural beauty, which makes man feel humble towards nature.
Fondest memory: The rich heritage of mineral exploitation has provided the area with countless artefacts of industrial archaeology.