Death Valley National Park close to visitor record

A total 1,294,827 visitors came to Death Valley National Park in 2017, only 1,456 less than the park record set in 2016, officials announced.

The high number of visitors in 2016 was attributed to publicity related to the centennial of the National Park Service and a rare “super bloom” of wildflowers in Death Valley National Park.

Surprisingly, visitation stayed at about the same high level in 2017 without these factors, the National Park Service said in its announcement Sunday.

By contrast, Death Valley only had 9,970 visitors when it was first established as a national monument in 1933.

“The park is seeing increased visitation in recent years, as more people are discovering Death Valley,” officials said in announcing last year’s visitor totals. “The exponential rise in visitation places a strain on the park’s natural and cultural resources.”

At around 3.4 million acres, Death Valley is the largest park in the lower 48 states. Elevations range from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin to more than 11,000 feet at Telescope Peak. In the spring, wildflower blooms add splashes of color to the desert landscape.

Nights in the park offer unparalleled opportunities for stargazing with some of the darkest skies in the country.

“Death Valley is amazing,” Superintendent Mike Reynolds said. “You can spend a lifetime here and not see everything. Over 90 percent of the park is wilderness, offering opportunities for solitude and adventure. The scenery is vast and inspiring. I encourage you to visit for the first time or return again.”

Visitors to Death Valley also contribute to the local economies in the surrounding communities of California and Nevada, the Park Service said.

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