Photos and stories of the natural world from a life in the middle of nowhere (mostly in Panamint Valley California). All images were taken by Jon Cassell.
The life of the desert lives only by virtue of adapting itself to the conditions of the desert. Nature does not bend the elements to favor the plants and animals; she makes the plants and animals do the bending.”
John C. Van Dyke
About Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a national park in the United States. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, located east of the Sierra Nevada, it occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts in the United States. The park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve. Approximately 91% of the park is a designated wilderness area. It is the hottest, driest and lowest of the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, a survivor from much wetter times.
There are two major valleys in the park, Death Valley and Panamint Valley. Both of these valleys were formed within the last few million years and both are bounded by north–south-trending mountain ranges. These and adjacent valleys follow the general trend of Basin and Range topography with one modification: there are parallel strike-slip faults that perpendicularly bound the central extent of Death Valley. The result of this shearing action is additional extension in the central part of Death Valley which causes a slight widening and more subsidence there.
Uplift of surrounding mountain ranges and subsidence of the valley floor are both occurring. The uplift on the Black Mountains is so fast that the alluvial fans (fan-shaped deposits at the mouth of canyons) there are small and steep compared to the huge alluvial fans coming off the Panamint Range. Fast uplift of a mountain range in an arid environment often does not allow its canyons enough time to cut a classic V-shape all the way down to the stream bed. Instead, a V-shape ends at a slot canyon halfway down, forming a 'wine glass canyon.' Sediment is deposited on a small and steep alluvial fan.