Natural Features & Ecosystems

Visitors come to Death Valley to experience the stark and lonely vastness of the valley; the panorama of rugged canyons and mountains; the pleasures of the dry, moderate winter climate; the challenge of the hot, arid summer; the relief of the cooler mountains; and the reminders of frontier and Native American ways of life. Yet, Death Valley National Park's greatest value is as an outdoor natural history museum.

It contains fine examples of most of the earth's geological eras and the forces that expose them. Plant and animal species, some of which occur nowhere else in the world, have adapted to the harsh Mojave Desert environment here in remarkable ways. Extremes of climate and geography make it the ultimate showcase of an American desert.

Death Valley National Park includes all of Death Valley, a 156-mile-long north/south-trending trough that formed between two major block-faulted mountain ranges: the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west. Telescope Peak, the highest peak in the Park and in the Panamint Mountains, rises 11,049 feet above sea level and lies only 15 miles from the lowest point in the United States in the Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level. The California Desert Protection Act added most of the Saline, Eureka, northern Panamint, and Greenwater valleys to the Park.

A long, raised bed ledge of rock runs along a desert mountain.

Faulting is the one of the main reasons Death Valley exists.

A path leads through a narrow, smoothly eroded, rocky canyon.
Geologic Formations

Death Valley NP is renowned world-wide for its exposed, complex, unique tectonics and diverse geologic resources.

A double rainbow in a clouded sky, above a stark desert landscape.
Weather and Climate

Death Valley is famous as the hottest place on earth and driest place in North America.

The sky reflects in a still pool of water with grassy vegetation leading to desert mountains.
Springs and Seeps

Wetland and riparian areas have a unique scientific value.

A mutli-hued, highly eroded hill with a horizon of desert mountains.
Death Valley Geology

Death Valley National Park show-cases the subtle beauty and uniqueness of desert environments.

A large towering sand dune under a blue sky with scattered clouds.
Sand Dunes

The sand dunes of Death Valley National Park are excellent places for nature study and recreation.

A vast salt flat of polygon shapes leads to an alluvial fan at the base of a desert mountain.
Salt Flats

The salt flats in Badwater Basin cover nearly 200 square miles, among the largest protected salt flats in the world.

A few small blue fish among algae covered rocks.
Devils Hole

Devils Hole--a detached unit of Death Valley National Park--is habitat for the only naturally occurring population of the endangered Devils

A track on a flat playa leads to a singular rock under a blue sky.
Racetrack Playa

Nestled in a remote valley between the Cottonwood and Last Chance Ranges, the Racetrack is a place of stunning beauty and mystery.

Last updated: September 28, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328


760 786-3200

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