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Via editor in chief Anne McSilver

Death Valley: The Weirdest National Park

Posted by Anne McSilver on October 11, 2011

Choosing your favorite national park is like picking the ideal spa treatment, the most delicious chocolate, or the best Hawaiian island. You’re identifying the best of the best that earth has to offer.

I’ve wanted to visit my new favorite— California’s Death Valley—for years, and Via’s 2010 feature by Wayne Curtis only enhanced my appetite for dry heat and bizarre landscapes. This past spring, my family and I drove to the park from Las Vegas, an easy three-hour trip, and made our first stop at Zabriskie Point for a panoramic view of the wrinkled badlands and our first blast of hair-dryer hot air.

Then it was on to the Inn at Furnace Creek, the perfect desert oasis, with an inviting pool, an elegant dining room, and a superfriendly staff of people who come from all over the United States to work and live in a national park. Death Valley’s don’t-miss attractions include Scotty’s Castle (a hard-to-fathom mansion in the middle of the desert), Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America), and Devil’s Golf Course (a rough field of crazy salt formations).

Is Death Valley as awe-inspiring as Arizona’s Grand Canyon or as gorgeous as Oregon’s Crater Lake? Probably not. But it’s truly weird and that’s why I love it.

Which national park is your own favorite and why? Make a compelling case and your comment could end up printed in VIA magazine.

This article was first published in October 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.