Nevada's Death Valley is aptly named for its steady drought conditions and crippling summer heat. It is a beautiful land of extremes and uniquely sits below sea level making it a fascinating location for school tours.
People flock to the United States hottest national park each year due to its unique landscape. In Death Valley, you can find streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicoloured rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness.
Here are our top things to do on a school trip to Death Valley:
1. Watch the stars.
Offering refuge from the stifling heat of the day, Death Valley at night offers some of the clearest night skies around due to the actions taken by the National Park Service to reduce excessive outdoor lighting. You have to be careful about where you choose to stargaze though. With so many mountain ranges around, you'll miss the best constellations if they're obstructed from the mountains on the horizon.
2. See the salt flats at Badwater Basin.
Similar to the salt flats in Bolivia, Death Valley tricks the senses with a thick layer of salt carpeting the valley floor. Your students will be intrigued by evaporation working in such an extreme way. After heavy storms, temporary lakes are formed. Due to the harsh, hot conditions of the valley, salt is left at the bottom creating a large, beautiful anomaly.
3. Learn about the conservation and climate change in Death Valley.
Death Valley's Phenology ROCKs program looks at and teaches the impact of climate change on the desert. By observing the major historical events in plants and animals, this program gives students a tangible way to detect ecological shifts in the environment and gain a greater understanding of the impact of climate change around the world.
4. See the wildlife within the National Park.
Unlike its name, Death Valley is very much alive. It is home to a variety of species such as bighorn sheep and mountain lions. Each and every one of the animals that survive in Death Valley must be able to withstand temperatures about 100 degrees. There is also a minimal amount of fresh water supply, so the animals have adapted to need less water. Many animals there are nocturnal however they leave behind clues on the sand dunes of their presence during the day.
Please note that you are a visitor in their environment and it is essential that you respectfully observe any wildlife from a distance.
The Death Valley is a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas, and it is a great optional add-on destination to our Geography trip to the Grand Canyon