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Happy Birthday Death Valley. Free entry, free events as park notches 25th year

Death Valley National Park
The Salt Creek area of Death Valley National Park, where fees are waived Nov. 2 to celebrate the park’s 25th year.
(Death Valley National Park)

Death Valley, which distinguishes itself as the “hottest, driest and lowest national park,” will notch its 25th year of park status with more than a week of free programs to teach visitors about the remarkable night sky, how reptiles and flowers adapt to the harsh desert, the geology of the landscape and more. The celebration ends Nov. 2 with free park entry, a 5K fun run/walk and free cupcakes.

Badwater Basin
Badwater Basin is the lowest land point in the U.S.
(Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

Death Valley is a land of extremes. It was named a national monument in 1933, then elevated to national park status with passage of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, which also made Joshua Tree a national park. Last year, 1,678,660 people visited, most of them in the super-hot month of August. Death Valley has held the hottest air temperature ever recorded on the planet — 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913 — and contains the lowest land point in North America, Badwater Basin at 279 feet below sea level.

Work is planned on fixing up Scotty’s Castle, the storied landmark in Death Valley National Park that’s been shut since flash floods last year damaged the circa 1922 ranch house and surrounding roads.

Want to learn more? Visitors who go starting this weekend can:

  • stargaze with the pros on Saturday and Monday evenings
  • catch a sunrise hike at Zabriskie Point at 7 a.m. Sunday
  • learn about the park’s ecological history at 5 p.m. Sunday
  • discover the forces that shaped the geology of the park at 5 p.m. Tuesday
  • learn about how desert tortoises thrive in the park at 5 p.m. Thursday
  • listen to the area’s mining history 1 p.m. Nov. 1
  • learn how desert plants adapt to such a harsh environment at 5 p.m. Nov. 1

While most of the park’s landmarks will be open to tourists, flood-damaged Scotty’s Castle, the unfinished vacation home of businessman Albert Johnson, will remain closed until 2021. Repairs are ongoing.

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Find a complete list of 25th anniversary celebrations here.


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