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Invasive burros, Equua asinus, are often called donkeys and can be found throughout the backcountry in Death Valley. | Courtesy Photo

Death Valley, a world attraction

Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Tibisha Shoshone Tribe. The park preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness and scenery. It also provides learning experiences within the nations largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions. The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley (Furnace Creek) was 134°F (57°C) on July 10, 1913. During the heat wave that peaked with that record, five consecutive days reached 129° F (54°C) or above. Death Valley holds the record for the hottest place on earth. Death Valley was given its forbidding name by a group of pioneers lost here in the winter of 1849-1850. Even though, as far as we know, only one of the group died here, they all assumed that this valley would be their grave. They were rescued by two of their young men, William Lewis Manly and John Rogers, who had learned to be scouts. As the party climbed out of the valley over the Panamint Mountains, one of the men turned, looked back, and said “goodbye, Death Valley.” This name, and the story of The Lost ‘49ers have become part of our western history.

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.

Invasive burros, Equua asinus, are often called donkeys and can be found throughout the backcountry in Death Valley. They are an introduced species that originally descended from the African wild ass and are not native to North America. This means that Death Valley did not always have burros present. Invasive burro populations grow at approximately 20% per year. These nonnative animals cause damage to native vegetation, spring ecosystems and compete with native wildlife, such as bighorn sheep and desert tortoise, for limited resources.

At 282 feet (86 m) below sea level at its lowest point,[12] Badwater Basin on Death Valley’s floor is the second-lowest depression in the Western Hemisphere (behind Laguna del Carbón in Argentina), while Mount Whitney, only 85 miles (137km) to the west, rises to 14,505 feet (4,421 m) and is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.

European visitors who are typically on multiple-week vacations and visiting many of the country’s grand Western national parks are drawn not only to the extreme temperatures but also to the park’s beauty. The barren, rocky, but spectacular vistas of the park are different from anything that exists in Europe.

According to the National Park Service nearly one million visitors visit Death Valley National Park annually. The highest visitation months are March, April, September, and surprisingly, July and August.

Furnace Creek was formerly the center of Death Valley mining and operations for the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the historic 20 Mule Teams hauling wagon trains of borax across the Mojave Desert.[21] Furnace Creek has a total area of 31.5 square miles (82 km2), over 99% of it being land.

The name either derives from the extreme valley heat or because of the spring-fed waters that flow from the ground at 82-85 degrees and feed the resort’s pools. The name was first used in 1860, then given to Furnace Creek Ranch in 1889 by the Pacific Coast Borax Co.

Springs in the Amargosa Range created a natural oasis at Furnace Creek, which has subsequently dwindled due to diversion of this water to support the village.

You don’t come to Death Valley because abundant life flourishes here. Which is exactly why an oasis in the middle of it is so special. Only here can you enjoy two distinct hotel experiences that have undergone a $100 million renaissance – the historic, serene, and peaceful Four Diamond Inn at Death Valley and the family-friendly, adventure-focused Ranch at Death Valley – the energetic epicenter of this True American Oasis. Surrounded by the largest national park in the lower 48 with 3.4 million acres to explore.