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4 Practical Things You Need to Know When Planning an Outdoor Adventure to Death Valley

The US is home to a myriad of national parks, all of which offer visitors the chance to engage with nature, explore areas almost untouched by man, and come face-to-face with a host of otherworldly creatures. Amongst all the parks on offer, it’s hard to look past Death Valley as the most unique.

Named for an unfortunate hiking expedition in the early 1900s, the park is nowhere near as foreboding to the modern explorer. Campsites can be found littered throughout the region, with a bevy of trails on offer for experienced and beginner hikers alike.

Just as with any adventure to such a wild and exciting landmark, preparedness is the key. Those looking to make any trip to Death Valley one to remember for all the right reasons would do well to follow some basic advice and guidance. Here are a handful of important factors to keep in mind when visiting.

The Sheer Scale of the Park

National parks are, by their very nature, giant masses of land. But few can compare to the immense scale of Death Valley. Totaling a whopping 3.4 million acres, the park contains over 1,000 miles of total roads (both dirt and paved). These numbers are impressive in themselves, but become all the more so when considering that its total size rivals the state of Connecticut.

With so much to see, it stands to reason that you need to finitely plan your travels across the park. A comprehensive trip here isn’t going to be a mere afternoon’s work. Having a clear plan of attack in place, spread across several days, will make it easier to see everything you want at a pace which doesn’t compromise on comfort.

Death Valley National Park

Preparing for the Heat

Furnace Creek – a sunken area found within Death Valley – is officially the hottest place ever registered on Earth. While that may be somewhat intimidating, the conditions don’t need to put you off altogether. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind a little heat, make sure to turn up with the right head gear, hydration requirements, sun cream, and other protective measures.

For those who’d like to avoid the hotter seasons altogether, visiting in the winter is a smart getaround. Conditions are mildest in December, when temperatures hit highs of around 50℉ and lows of 38℉. That’s 3℃-10℃. While that might sound a touch chilly, it’s important to remember that you’ll be doing a lot of walking, which in turn will help to stave off the cold.

Plan Your Visit Around the Superbloom

If you can only visit Death Valley once, then waiting to plan your trip around a superbloom is the best way to go. This naturally occurring phenomena sees a variety of flowers lay dormant in seeds for years, waiting for the perfect conditions to sprout up in. When the would-be flora eventually senses the time is right, the result is an explosion of colour which lines the floor of the entire valley.

Owing to how specific the conditions need to be for a superbloom to occur, it can be years between events. The last superbloom event took place in 2016, which means the valley is poised to burst into colour again in the not-too-distant future.

Death Valley National Park

Changes Since Flooding

In the wake of Tropical Storm Hilary, an entire year’s worth of rain cascaded through the park in a single day. This extreme event had a huge impact on the lay of the land. Areas of the park are now unrecognisable, while some have had to be closed off altogether.

Just some of the changes that occurred included the rain:

  • Forging new gullies in previously untouched areas
  • Displacing heavy rocks
  • Undercutting roadways to make them undriveable (including State Route 109, which is the main path through the park)
  • Washing away a 1,500 foot stretch of roadway near Towne Pass
  • Forcing some hotels and campgrounds to be closed

This shouldn’t put off visitors, though. Just make sure to do your research before you travel to guarantee that the areas you want to see or explore are still accessible to the public.

Feeling prepared for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the mesmerising Death Valley? Be sure to keep all of this practical advice in mind to make your next adventure one you’ll never forget.

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