Death Valley is a National Park with around 3.4 million acres of beauty and wonder. It’s known for being extreme in nearly every way. The landscape ranges from the dry sunbaked desert scenery to the lush green beauty of the oases. One of the records it holds is that of having the highest recorded temperature of 134°F. It’s also the driest desert, receiving less than two inches of rain every year. Add to this, the fact that the lowest point of elevation on the continent is located in Death Valley and you start seeing the pattern of extremes.
Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level. Just 15 miles from there is Death Valley’s highest point. Telescope Peak is 11,049 feet high, and the difference between the top of the peak and the bottom of the basin is double the size in depth of the Grand Canyon. That’s very extreme!
Perhaps it’s these extremes that make Death Valley so intriguing. Or maybe it’s the pull of the unknown; the unsolved mysteries that nature can torture us with. Whatever it is, Death Valley has drawn evil to it in the past.
This area was made famous when Charles Manson made it home for his Family. A cult-like group with a madman for their leader, this Family carried out brutal murders of well-known people. This caused a giant stir in the peace loving environment of the 60’s.
Undoubtedly, more murders would have taken place if not for the unlikely capture of Charles Manson and his Family. When someone vandalized a brand new piece of equipment not far from where Manson and his followers were squatting, people were unhappy and a task force was put together to find the criminal.
A group of hippies on hallucinogens who were illegally living in an abandoned ranch, seemed like good suspects. Dozens of people were arrested, most of whom were women. Charles Manson was found hiding under the sink in the bathroom, tucked away in a cupboard.
When they were being questioned, one of Manson’s devout followers confessed to the murders that shook up America. This was when law enforcement realized who they had captured.
Charles Manson was a strong believer of Armageddon. He believed that the world would go through a race war and that if he found “the bottomless pit” of Revelation, then he and his family could wait it out in an underground world far away from it all. He was under the impression that this secret place was located in Death Valley.
Manson was a troubled individual before he started his group of devoted murderous followers. Up to that point he had already spent half of his life imprisoned. Maybe the desert of Death Valley had been calling out to him, whispering possibilities into his ear. The names of some of the places within Death Valley certainly send out a message that evil is welcome. I wonder what other unknown evils Death Valley has drawn in throughout its history.
Interestingly enough, Barker Ranch was mostly burnt down during a fire in 2009. This happened just one year after authorities dug holes around the ranch while searching for bodies presumed to be there. No bodies were found and now little remains of this notorious ranch. The cause of the fire was never released.
Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from Northern America’s National Parks by Andrea Lankford