There are some who call it hell on earth, and there is some truth to that. It is a place of extremes. Nowhere else is a landscape so exquisite yet brutal, stunning yet harsh. Death Valley is one of the hottest, driest, and most inhospitable environments on the planet, regularly registering temperatures in the triple digits. Yet some wild creatures actually call the place home, making the best of a bad situation by finding inventive ways to beat the heat. And each July, ultra-marathoners find inspiration in its extremes, willingly running 135 miles through the park, taking on the lethal heat and 30 mph winds as a personal challenge.
Its extreme beauty makes Death Valley a visual wonderland. Imposing mountains rise almost two vertical miles above its sprawling salt flats, and its canyons are painted in strokes of blue, pink, violet and green. The stars above it are showcased to their best possible advantage in pristine skies unspoiled by light pollution. And most surprisingly, it sits atop one of the largest aquifer systems in the United States, spanning nearly 40,000 square miles and plunging to unknown depths. Heaven or hell, one thing seems certain - Death Valley will take you far beyond your expectations, whatever they may be.