Death Valley National Park
Abby Wines, Park Ranger
Death Valley National park
Location: Death Valley, California
Park number: 53rd National Park
Park established: October 31, 1994 (designated as a national monument in 1933)
President in office: President Bill Clinton
Park size: 3.4 million acres
Highest elevation: 11,049 feet – Telescope Peak Summit
Lowest elevation: -282 feet below sea level – Badwater Basin
Visitors: 1,128,862 in 2022
5th Largest National Park
One of the driest places on earth
More than 170 miles of hiking trails
Animals you may see include bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats, desert tortoises, coyotes, and jackrabbits – most are nocturnal, choosing to sleep during the hot days
What made you love the parks?
Exploration. I wanted to be a cave explorer, so I did an internship with Wind Cave National Park thinking that the interview was exploring caves. It turns out I was being an Interpretive Park Ranger. No one told me the difference.
What is your favorite thing about Death Valley National Park?
The open space. It feels like freedom.
What is your favorite thing to do at Death Valley National Park?
Canyoneering. And if you’re not familiar with that, it means repelling down cliffs.
What are three must-haves you pack for a park visit?
A map, food, and water.
What is your favorite campfire activity?
Just talking with friends.
Tent, camper, or cabin?
A tent, but I prefer sleeping in the back of my truck.
Hiking with or without trekking poles?
Usually with, especially if it’s steep.
And what is your favorite trail snack?
What is the best animal sighting that you’ve had?
So many years ago, it was about 17 years ago, I was working on a project with two of the elders from the Tibishoshoshone tribe. The younger elder asked the elder elder where the rock art in the area was. So the elder woman, the older elder, said “I was taught not to go to these places of power, but you two can go over and she showed us where we walk.
And so, we were walking over towards this rock art panel, which is a 20-foot tall white cliff with petroglyphs on it. And a mountain lion was sitting on top of that in the middle of the day.
What is your favorite sound in the parks?
What is the greatest gift the parks give to us?