The day after my wedding, Cristin, I and our respective wedding parties, took a day trip to Death Valley National Park. This was December 15th. We had also visited the park on Jan 1st of the same year. Both times the weather was quite comfortable 65-76 degree range. It is quite pleasant in the winter, supposedly the record high was 88 for December.
Death Valley is a place of extremes:
- The highest temperature in the US of 134 degrees was recorded here.
- A ground temperature of 201 degrees was recorded here (remember, water boils as 212).
- Its basin is the lowest point in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. See my photo of GPS above showing it's altitude estimate of -293.
- Visible from the lowest point, the highest point tops out at 11,049 feet above sea level. There was snow on this peak when I was there.
- Largest park in continental US: 3.4 million acres, 5 times the size of Yosemite.
- The darkest night sky of any national park in the United States.
In this sense it is (in my humble opinion) one of the most unique locations in the world, definitely in the United States. Yet, both times I've been there, it didn't seem popular. The small parking lots at the most accessible, touristy, spots in the park were nowhere near full even mid-day. People appeared absent. This was starkly contrasted to my trip to Yosemite 2 months earlier where everywhere in the park, people were swarming, parking was impossible to find, etc. Hence, I'm dubbing Death Valley the "Forgotten Park" from my small sample size. I only have theories why this might be true, no answers:
- It has a reputation for being uncomfortable, hot and dry. This is certainly true in the summer.
- The closest large city is Las Vegas, which is 2-3 hours away and has other nearby attractions such as the Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, and the biggest tourist attraction of them all the Grand Canyon.
- It isn't "scenic" in the sense of large mountains and colorful vegetation. Basically, the vegetation is sorely lacking
Why do you think Death Valley is "Forgotten"? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.