EXTREME SUMMER HEAT
Expect high temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees F on your summer visit to Death Valley. Heat related illness is a real possibility. Drink plenty of water and carry extra. Avoid activity in the heat. Travel prepared to survive. Watch for signs of trouble. More »
Zabriskie Point to close for repairs
Starting October 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, all access to Zabriskie Point and surrounding area will be closed for major rehabilitation work to repair unstable support walls and improve conditions.
The Gospel Foundation
Walnut Creek Historical Society
In 1946 Johnson established a socially oriented charity which he named the Gospel Foundation. In 1947, one year after the foundation had been formed, Johnson made provisions in his will to bequeath several properties to the institution. Besides Death Valley Ranch, it would gain control of the Shadelands Ranch and the Hollywood home.
Johnson included one definite provision in the foundations charter: that all the assets be spent or discharged during the foundation president's lifetime. Johnson hoped that this would prevent the foundation from straying into programs foreign to what he envisioned. Through 1991, the institution still awarded a total of $400,000 a year in grants to needy socially oriented causes.
Death Valley Ranch had already been established as a motel and tourist site and the foundation continued to operate it in this manner.
As early as 1933, Horace Albright realized the potential Scotty's Castle might have as an attraction for Death Valley. Although he mentioned it to Johnson in an offhand and jovial fashion when the two first met, it must have seemed somewhat inevitable when it actually happened many years later.
Despite the apparent success of the tours, the foundation wished to divest itself of ownership of the Castle. In 1970, the foundation found an interested buyer in its neighbor - the National Park Service. That same year the foundation also donated Shadelands to the city of Walnut Creek for use as a historic house museum.
The National Park Service purchased the castle and its lands for $850,000. The funds were made available by the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965. The Act prohibited the use of these monies for purchasing furniture, so the Gospel Foundation donated the furnishings as part of the transaction.
Did You Know?
Badwater Basin, in Death Valley National Park, is the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea, between Israel and Jordan, is the lowest at 1371 feet below sea level.