From the lowest point in North America to the highest recorded temperature Death Valley National Park has a lot to offer.
It’s a 3h30 drive from Las Vegas or 4h30 from Los Angeles but even if you only go for a day it’s definitely worth it. I went for a day from Las Vegas but there are some hotels and campgrounds located in the park.
I started my journey early wanting to visit as much of the park as I could. Make sure to fill up your gas tank before getting to the park as gas is available next to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center but at double the price. One thing I had not realized while researching the park was that it’s a pretty big park. You can easily drive a few hundred miles in one day just going from one site to the next.
I had my America the Beautiful Pass so I didn’t have to pay the 30$ entry fee but I would still suggest stopping at the Visitor Center to get the map of the park and the park newspaper to get the information needed for your visit. Depending when you plan to visit some sites might be closed due to extreme temperatures.
Another important fact you should know is that there’s minimal cellular reception in the park. Make sure to download your maps if you’re using an app, have a map of the area or like I do have a GPS. The trails and sites are well identified but I did use my GPS a few times to get from site to site. Also been in the heat you really don’t want to get lost. It goes without saying that you should bring a lot of water with you.
Since I was only there for a day I had a list of sites and trails I wanted to do and didn’t get to do all the sites so here are some of my favorite spots but you can visit their site to get more info.
The lowest point in North America at 86m below sea level. This is a easy site to get to 27km east of the visitor center. From the parking lot you can access and see the site but if you want to walk an extra kilometer you can get to the end of the salt trail and get a good view at the salt flats.
On the way back from Badwater Bassin and if you’re up for a hike you can stop to do a 7.2km hike at Golden Canyon and Gower Gulp Loop . If you’re more into driving the park you can also just take the Artist Drive scenic loop. If you have a vehicle that can go off road you also have a few other option such as the Devil’s Golf Course. I did not experience the Artist Drive or Devil’s Golf course but was told it was worth it if you had the time.
Going west from the visitor center I headed the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. From the visitor center this is a 36km drive that will take you into a different world. The dunes were amazing and such a change of scenery.
From there it was time for me to start to think of my drive back to Vegas and there were two more spot I wanted to stop at to take in the view.
This is another site that is straight out of the parking lot and you’ll only have to go up 400m on a paved hill to get the full reward of seeing Golden Canyon and other views from above.
A 21km drive on Dantes Road will take you to the parking lot of Dantes View. At 1500m overlooking Death Valley you will get to take in the breathtaking view of the park. Looking down you will see the salt flats and on the horizon the vastness of the park.
I really enjoyed my day in Death Valley National Park. Seeing all the different landscapes reminded me a lot of my trip to Iceland. There’s a few sites that I didn’t get to see but that will just give me an excuse to be back and enjoy the park again.
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