Take a tour of some of the lowest places on Earth

Learn about the geography and history behind some of the world's most challenging environments.

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Death Valley Death Valley (Photo: Doug Lemke / Shutterstock)

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Death Valley, California: 279 feet below sea level

This foreboding-sounding valley is the hottest and driest national park in the United States, located in California and Nevada. Back in the day (billions of years ago), warm, ancient seas deposited marine sediments in the area until rifting opened it up to the Pacific Ocean.

Today, the valley is a place of incredible diversity, consisting of salt flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons and mountains. About 95% of the park is a designated wilderness area and considered an International Biosphere Reserve.

Its animals include bighorn sheep, coyotes and the strange Death Valley pupfish, a species of fish that evolved for wetter times and probably wishes it had bet its DNA on becoming a reptile or something instead.

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