Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the lower 48 states, covering 3.34 million acres (5,219 square miles).  The park's rich geologic history, including ancient seas and volcanic activity, accounts for its tinted and textured landscape.  The Valley is surrounded by the Panamint Range on the West and the Amargosa Range on the East.  Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America.  Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range rises to 11,043 feet, and in the winter it can get quite cold in the mountains.  But the park is known for its hot, dry weather.  Its website notes that, "Summer temperatures often top 120 degrees F (49 degrees C) in the shade..."  Ground temperatures get higher; the record was 201 degrees F.  The mountains create a rain shadow in the Valley and water is scarce; average annual precipitation is about two inches.  Despite the arid conditions, plants dot the desert floor, and animals ranging from ants to coyotes make the park home, as do members of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe.  In the latter part of the 19th century, mining ventures were started up.  In 2016 1.3 million people visited the park.  Death Valley was made a National Monument in 1933 but only became a National Park in 1994.

See: National Park Service - Death Valley National Park.