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National Park Tuesday

I'd apologize for being all edumacational, but then again - since when has edumacation NOT been nerdy?

Death Valley National Park is located in the states of Nevada and California, and is the largest park in the lower 48 (3.37 million acres) and contains a diversity of geological formation and land types, including badlands, salt flats, sand dunes, mountains, canyons and valleys. Death Valley was made a National Monument in 1933, but did not become a National Park until its expansion in 1994. But human presence in Death Valley began long before then, with the Nevares Spring People. These were a group of hunter-gatherers that traveled through Death Valley about 10,000 years ago. They were supplanted by the Mesquite Flat People (5,000 years ago), then the Saratoga Spring People (4,000 years ago). The Timbisha (also called Shoshone, Panamint or Koso) settled in Death Valley according to a vertical migration pattern, given the difference in temperature based on elevation and the time of year. 

Death Valley is the driest, hottest and (arguably) the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere. Badwater Basin is 192 feet below Sea Level. The park has reached July temperatures of up to 134 degrees Fahrenheit. And it receives less than two inches of rainfall per year. 


One of the most remarkable areas of Death Valley is called The Racetrack (pictured below, but I didn't take it, unfortunately. It's only accessible through 27 miles of rough, unpaved dirt road). The Racetrack is a playa (dry lake bed) populated with mysteriously moving rocks. The trails that the rocks leave clearly indicate that they travel somehow, although no one has directly observed it. The most likely theory (other than aliens) is that during the winter, a "sled" of ice builds up underneath the rocks, and the high desert winds that are abundant in the valley send them sailing slowly across the lake bed.

This has been your debut edition of National Park Tuesday.

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