Death Valley is commemorating 25 years as a national park with a week packed with events allowing the public to celebrate and learn about its famously extreme landscape.
The festivities kick off this Saturday, Oct. 26, and will end with a free-entry day on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Experts including geologists, biologists and astronomers will share their knowledge about the park’s ecology, dark skies and history.
The hottest, driest and lowest national park, Death Valley was first protected in 1933 as a national monument.
It gained status as a national park on Oct. 31, 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed the California Desert Protection Act. The law also added 1.3 million acres to the park and designated more than 90% of its land as wilderness.
The California Desert Protection Act also redesignated Joshua Tree as a national park and established Mojave National Preserve. Joshua Tree has not announced special programming for its anniversary.
At Death Valley, the week’s highlights include a 3-mile sunrise hike led by a park ranger heading out from Zabriskie Point at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Those interested in learning about the park’s dark night skies can attend astronomy programs at Harmony Borax Works beginning at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 and 28.
On Nov. 2, park Superintendent Mike Reynolds will join in on a 5-kilometer fun run/walk heading out from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center at 8 a.m. The group is expected to return to the visitor’s center in time to nosh on cupcakes at noon.
That same afternoon, various organizations will set up exposition booths in the visitor’s center, and former park superintendents will speak and answer questions about the California Desert Protection Act in the auditorium.
“This is one of the largest celebrations Death Valley National Park has hosted,” Reynolds said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable guest speakers who are coming to the park specifically for this series of events. It’s a unique opportunity for the public to learn about this incredible park.”
All the programming free and open to the public. Click here for a full list of events being offered.
Park officials encouraged anyone participating in hikes to wear closed-toe shoes, as they’ll be on uneven terrain. People attending daytime events should be sun protection and water, and those visiting at night should come with a headlamp, warm clothes and a chair.