Death Valley is world renowned for its extremes, home to our nation's driest, hottest, and lowest place, but also sporting mountains over 11,000 feet high that experience below-zero weather and snow. To survive in these adverse conditions, the park's plants and wildlife have developed an amazing series of evolutionary adaptations, giving rise to a surprising diversity of life. Over 600 plants species have been found in Death Valley, with at least 55 endemic to the park and its vicinity. In addition, 17 species of mammals, fish, and snails that live in Death Valley occur nowhere else in the world. Also found in this park are desert tortoise, coyote, kit fox, ringtail cat, bighorn sheep, and a diversity of lizards, snakes, bats, squirrels, and birds, including red-tailed hawk and roadrunner.
Within Death Valley's 3.4 million acres lay one of the largest expanses of protected warm desert in the world. Its dramatic mountains, valleys, fans, and dunes are world renowned for their exposed, complex, diverse, and unique geology and geomorphology. This desert has been the continuous home of Native Americans from prehistoric time to the present. As such, the park contains an unusually high number of well-preserved archaeological sites, including rock art and alignments. Lastly, since 95% of park is designated wilderness, yet accessible by an extensive road network, it provides unique opportunities for solitude and primitive backcountry adventure.
While this region won important protections in 1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act, the desert parks are increasingly endangered by the sprawling growth of southern California and Nevada, environmentally-threatening policies, and lack of funding for the parks' protection and management.
NPCA's California Desert Field Office seeks to inform the public about issues concerning California's desert parks, involve the public in solution to these issues, and encourage enjoyment and protection of park lands.