If you’re after extremes, look no further than Death Valley National Park. Here, you can bag all 11,049 feet of the highest peak in the Panamint Mountains, or plummet back down to a lowly 3000 feet and visit the singing Eureka Dunes. The dry desert sprawls more than three million acres, over which the landscape varies wildy, as do the temperatures: in one day, the air temperature can start at record-holding sizzling heat, and nose dive to near-zero as the sun goes down.
Whether you choose high-elevation hikes or exploring once-prosperous mining towns like the Keane Wonder Mine, you’re sure to encounter more than a few birds on your way. Death Valley has one of the most diverse bird populations of the National Parks. Catch western kingbirds, Phoebes, and meadowlarks--among other hundreds of species--on their way through for spring migration.
Spring is not only for prime bird-watching in Death Valley, though. Along with having the mildest temperatures, late-March brings the blossoming of over 800 kinds of well-adapted plants that live here. If there’s been enough rainfall, wildflower-covered slopes bloom into seas of Sand Verbena and Desert Gold that make for great photo-ops. Or, put your car into four-wheel drive and take in the sights over the 350 miles of unpaved roads that weave through the rest of the park.