Death Valley Finale: Darwin Falls and Pupfish behind bars

On the final day of our Death Valley saga, KP and I started the day off at Zabriske Point, a lookout over the Death Valley Badlands and the Borax mines… neither of which I found very exciting, so I’m posting some pics and moving on:

 Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Later that day we hiked to Darwin Falls, all the way on the Western-most edge of the park. It’s great over there, less crowds and there’s an excellent little bar with a cool porch in the town of Panamint Springs.

The hike up to Darwin Falls is through a shady slot canyon with a trickle of a river running down the middle. You’re only allowed to use the spot during the day so the bighorn sheep can drink in peace at night. We stumbled onto a bunch of toads in one of the pools in the river, and I’d kind of hoped they were something rare and unusual. But after some research, I’m guessing they were common Western Toads, which are actually an introduced species in Death Valley, and not the native Red-spotted toad, Bufo punctatus. Give it your best guess, based on the photos below.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

The payoff for Darwin Falls was worth the drive and hike. Water in the desert is a beautiful thing.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

On the way back to Vegas, we stopped to check out the final pupfish species, but we were shutdown by the man. By the man, I probably mean biologists. They had the Devil’s Hole pupfish locked down tight. According to US Fish and Wildlife:

The Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) was listed as endangered in 1967. This iridescent blue inch-long fish’s only natural habitat is in the 93 degree waters of Devils Hole, located within the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County , Nevada, which is a detached unit of Death Valley National Park . Although the cavern is over 400 feet deep, the pupfish are believed to spawn exclusively on a shallow rock shelf just under the waters surface.

That shelf is like 6 sqare feet. And they keep it under lock and key.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Better locked down than not I guess, since there are only a few of them. Hope you enjoyed the Death Valley trip. This wraps it up.

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About mstansberry

Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
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3 Responses to Death Valley Finale: Darwin Falls and Pupfish behind bars

  1. Bpaul says:

    Ok, invasive or not, those toads are some handsome people, you have to admit.

  2. mstansberry says:

    That there is a good looking toad. True that.

  3. Richard says:

    The western toads are native at Darwin Falls. Check out the species account in Stebbins’ Field Guide to the Western Reptiles and Amphibians – it specifically mentions the location.

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