Located in the Mojave Desert of California, Death Valley is the lowest, driest and hottest region in North America and holds the world record for the highest temperature ever directly recorded: 134 degrees Fahrenheit. The World Meteorological Organization awarded Death Valley with the record in 2012 when it was determined that the previous record holder, El Azizia, Libya, reported an invalid measurement.
While this parched landscape does test the limits of what is hospitable, life can survive here. By night, bobcats, kit foxes, and rodents scurry about, and bighorn sheep forage in the park's higher elevations. When the rains do fall, wildflowers emerge from their parched dungeon and cover the valley floor in spectacular blooms. Magic even seems to exist here. Death Valley is home to mysterious moving rocks (such as the cantaloupe-sized one in this photo), which leave tracks as proof of their travels — though no one has ever witnessed their movement.