The largest national park outside of Alaska, Death Valley National Park is known for extremes....It is North America's driest and hottest spot (with fewer than 2 inches of rainfall annually and a record high of 134*F), and has the lowest elevation on the continent....282 feet below sea level at Badwater.

In 1849 emigrants bound for California's gold fields strayed into the 120 mile long basin, enduring a two month ordeal of "hunger and thirst and a deafening silence." One of the last to leave looked down from a mountain at the narrow valley and said, "Good-bye, Death Valley."

The forbidding moniker belies the beauty in this vast graben, the geological term for a sunken fragment of the Earth's crust. Here are rocks sculptured by erosion, richly tinted mudstone hills and canyons, luminous sand dunes, lush oases, and a 200 square mile salt pan surrounded by mountains rising more than 11,000 feet above sea level.

MESQUITE SAND DUNES

MESQUITE SAND DUNES

RACE AGAINST TIME

RACE AGAINST TIME

ZABRISKIE POINT

ZABRISKIE POINT

CROSSING PATHS

CROSSING PATHS

DUNES TO AMARGOSA

DUNES TO AMARGOSA

LONGEST TRACK

LONGEST TRACK

BADWATER SUNSET

BADWATER SUNSET

GRANDSTAND PLAY

GRANDSTAND PLAY

PLACE OF ORIGIN

PLACE OF ORIGIN

IMPOSSIBLE BLUE

IMPOSSIBLE BLUE

ENCHANTED DUNES

ENCHANTED DUNES

MOVING ROCK

MOVING ROCK

ARTIST'S PALETTE

ARTIST'S PALETTE

CONVERGENCE

CONVERGENCE

NO WILDER PLACE

NO WILDER PLACE

SNAILS PACE

SNAILS PACE

ERODED DUNE

ERODED DUNE

MANLY BEACON

MANLY BEACON

INTERVENING LIGHT

INTERVENING LIGHT

SALT PANS

SALT PANS