5 crazy facts about Death Valley

May 21, 2015, 10:47 a.m.
death valley

1. Death Valley, the lowest place in the U.S., is only 76 miles from Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S. Within Death Valley, the highest point of Telescope Peak (11,049 feet) is only 15 miles away from the lowest point of Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level).

2. Rainfall is not unheard of in Death Valley. It gets an average of about 1.5 inches a year. In fact, that rainfall combined with extreme temperatures is what helps create the phenomenon of the sailing stones on Racetrack Playa.

3. The name Death Valley is a misnomer. It is actually home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including 900 species of plants, 300 species of birds, and larger animals including bighorn sheep, coyotes, reptiles, amphibians, and even an endemic fish species, the Death Valley pupfish.

4. At over 3.3 million acres, Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48. The next largest is Yellowstone at just over 2.2 million acres.

5. We know Death Valley gets hot, but how hot? The highest temperature on record was 134 degrees F, which happened in 1913. It was recorded at the appropriately-named Furnace Creek.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.