The view from Zabriskie Point, one of the iconic vistas of Death Valley National Park, just after dawn.
So, this is going to be about Death Valley National Park, which stretches over about 5,300 miles of the Mohave Desert in far eastern California (and a small patch western Nevada). The park encompasses not only Death Valley itself, but also a vast expanse of the Panimint and Last Chance ranges. The terrain is immensely varied, from Telescope Peak in the Panimints, which rises to 11'049 feet, to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the U.S., and second lowest in the Western Hemisphere, which is 282 feet below sea level. The series of ranges and valleys within the park are part of the Basin and Range Provence, where, as with the Inyo Mountains to the west, whole blocks of the earth's have either been pushed up or caused to sink due to tectonic forces. One of the results of these processes are valleys, such as Death Valley itself, that are actually below sea level, and are apparently still sinking. Instead of seeking out a path to the ocean, the water courses in this region flow down into the middle of the sinks created by the extremely low lying valleys and empty into huge salt flats, such as Badwater Basin.