Local

November 8, 2012

Visiting a local, national treasure: Death Valley

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Ken Drylie
Public Affairs Office NTC and Fort Irwin

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With the weather turning cooler, now is a great time to visit Death Valley National Park. During the summer months, temperatures approaching 115 degrees are common during the hottest time of the year. In November temperatures in the mid 70’s are the norm.

The Furnace Creek Visitor Center just underwent a complete renovation. The building features the historic “Mission 66” style of architecture that dominated National Park Service facilities in the 1950’s and 60’s. Included in the design is the Visitor Center and Museum, which houses a refreshed interior and new interpretive exhibits.

The building is LEED certified with energy saving components built into the new design.

Some of the highlights of Death Valley are:
Artists Drive: Scenic loop drive through multi-colored volcanic and sedimentary hills. Artist’s Palette is especially photogenic in late afternoon light. The 9-mile (14.5km) paved road is one-way and is only drivable with vehicles less than 25ft./7m in length.

Badwater: Lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin is a surreal landscape of vast salt flats. A temporary lake may form here after heavy rainstorms. Limit time on hot salt flats and drink plenty of water.

Dante’s View: The most breathtaking viewpoint in the park, this mountain-top overlook is more than 5,000ft./1,524m above the inferno of Death Valley. The paved access road is open to all vehicles less than 25ft./7m in length.
Devil’s Golf Course: Immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. So incredibly serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.” The unpaved road leading to it is often closed after rain.

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns: These 10 beehive-shaped structures are among the best preserved in the west. Built in 1876 to provide fuel to process silver/lead ore, they still smell of smoke today. The last 2mi/3km of gravel road to the kilns are passable to most vehicles.

Scotty’s Castle: Prospector “Death Valley Scotty” claimed this elaborate Spanish-style mansion was built by gold from his fictitious mine. In reality, it was the 1920s vacation home of his wealthy friends. Today, living history tours of the castle’s richly furnished interior are given by costumed park rangers.
To learn more and plan your visit go to www.nps.gov/deva/index.html.




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