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  • The Real Reason You Should Visit Death Valley in Winter

    5 Myths About Death Valley

No, it’s not all dry, drab and lifeless, as you might expect

Just as a diverse assortment of wildlife has managed to figure out survival strategies in the desert, an eclectic group of people have lived and worked in Death Valley.

Some folks, like the pioneers in wagon trains, arrived here accidentally and suffered great tragedy. But miners and prospectors came to the valley in search of treasure, while plenty of desert rats appreciated the solitude that the area provided.

Indeed, eccentrics just seem to come with the territory, none more so than Walter (Death Valley Scotty) Scott. He was the Wild West showman (and likely con man) who built Scotty’s Castle, the famous Mission Revival landmark in the northern part of the park that has been recently renovated following devastating flash floods in October 2015.

For a millennium before outsiders ventured here, the ancestors of today’s Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Band of California called the area home. They carved out an existence, ranging from the valley and into the surrounding mountains to find food sources. Members of the tribe still live in a small village near The Oasis at Death Valley.

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Written by: Matt Jaffe

Specializing in California, the Southwest, and Hawaii, Matt Jaffe is an award-winning former senior writer at Sunset magazine and contributes to a variety of publications, including Los Angeles, Arizona Highways, and Westways. His books include The Santa Monica Mountains: Range on the Edge and Oaxaca: The Spirit of Mexico.