Death Valley is a Strange Land, and we were strangers within it. Even the volcanoes are kind of odd, at least if you think volcanoes are big cones that put out lava flows and clouds of seething ash. The presence of the volcanoes is not strange in itself; it is a natural consequence of crustal extension. As normal and detachment faults broke up the crust, decompression allowed partial melting of the underlying mantle, producing basaltic magmas. Sometimes the magma rose into the crust, and melted the granitic rock into rhyolite lava that produced explosive caldera eruptions, including the one we observed in this earlier post. There was also some cinder cone activity at the south end of Death Valley, including a cone that was offset by a right lateral fault. But it is the northern end of Death Valley that has one of the stranger "volcanoes" that you might want to investigate if you ever visit.
some recent research indicates they could be as little 800-2,100 years old. Media reports kind of played up the "recent" angle a bit much, suggesting they could erupt any moment (sillies, those things won't happen until December when the Mayan Calendar ends). I guess that is what the media needs to do to sell things, but at least people learn that there are things in Death Valley other than reptiles and sand.
Check out the miniature wineglass canyon below, with an alluvial cone forming the base, and the valley in the shadow above forming the cup. Sort of a Death Valley mountain range in miniature.