“Death Valley‘s geography is as varied and unique as any geographic region of comparable size on earth. Located in south eastern California, Death Valley is in the heart of the Basin and Range region that makes up much of the Mojave region. Death Valley was formed as the earth’s crust in this region was stretched and pulled apart. This forces large block structures of the earth’s crust to “”sink”” into the gaps created by the stretching process. These down-dropped blocks become valleys (grabens) such as Owens, Panamint, and Death Valleys, and the interspersed structures become the mountain ranges (horsts) such as the Panaimint, Inyo, and Funeral mountain ranges.The floor of Death Valley encompasses the lowest point on the North American continent, Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level. From this location, one can gaze up at Telescope Peak which towers more than 11,300 feet above the Death Valley floor, and only 11 miles distant. From the top of this monumental peak, one can clearly see both the lowest point in the northern hemisphere at Badwater, and the Highest point in the contiguous 48 United State at Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Nevada’s some 150 miles to the west.
Death Valley is dry. There. I said it. I know it’s obvious, but it’s important to know. Death Valley is dry and it is exceptionally good at making other things dry too. Open a loaf of bread, and then forget to seal it back up within 15 minutes. You know what you get? A loaf of crackers, that’s what you get! Bring water. Bring chap stick. Drink the water and use the chapstick — both in copious quantities. You’ll thank me later.Most of the floor of Death Valley receives on average less than 2.5 inches of rainfall per year. Most of this 2.5 inches of rainfall arrives in the summer as monsoonal thunderstorms fed by subtropical moisture flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California. This is to say, that most of Death Valley‘s significant precipitation falls all at once as sometimes-violent thunderstorms. Such violent weather activity often leads to localized flash flooding, sometimes with little or no warning as dry canyon washes channel torrential floods from rainstorms miles away.Oh yeah, Death Valley is hot too. Not all the time, of course, but when it gets hot in Death Valley, it gets HOT in Death Valley. Over the summer months of 2001, Death Valley recorded 154 consecutive days of temperatures above 100 degrees fahrenheit. Temperatures over 120 degrees fahrenheit are VERY common on the valley floor in the summer months.”