Death Valley National Park Travel Guide

By EricAdamson

  • Mesquite Sand Dunes

The Mesquite Sand Dunes are a stunning landscape. The 100-foot-tall dunes can be easily accessed and, due to their natural state, they are constantly changing. You can take great photos by visiting the dunes at sunset or sunrise.

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  • Artist’s Drive

The 9-mile Artist’s Drive runs from south to north and passes through some of the most iconic sites in Death Valley. This route will give you a spectacular view of the salt flats and will take you to Artist’s Palette, a mountainside with a rainbow of colors.

You can reach Artist’s Drive by driving approximately 9 miles south from Furnace Creek, on Badwater Road. Look for the turnoff.

  • Lava Tube Trail

Lava Tube Trail is a 0.6-mile hike that takes you through lava fields and straight to a hot tub. You can climb up the ladder to reach the tube. Once inside, you will find it lit by holes in its rock ceiling.

To reach the trail, you will need to travel approximately 15 miles from Kelso depot and then continue on a unmarked road for another 5 miles. You should not take the second road as it is very sketchy and rocks can be seen everywhere.

  • Natural Bridge Canyon

Natural Bridge Canyon, located east of Death Valley is accessible by hiking the Natural Bridge Trail (2.25 miles) through the Amargosa Mountain foothills.

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The canyon is one of the most popular spots in Death Valley. It features a bridge that’s 50 feet tall, stress fractures in canyon walls and a waterfall.

  • Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America, at 282 feet above sea level. It features salt flats that have been left behind due to periodic flooding. It is located approximately 20 minutes from Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

This is a popular spot. However, the salt flats stretch for about five miles. If you want to take photos of yourself with no one else, keep walking.

  • Scotty’s Castle

Scotty’s Castle, a mansion situated in the middle of a barren area of Death Valley, is a lavish Spanish-style home built in 1920. It is a grandiose mansion with a main area, guest area, and a large pool that can be divided by a bridge. There’s also a clock tower.

You can walk around the grounds and take photos, but you will need to book a tour to get inside the mansion. The Underground Tour (a guided tour through the basements) and the House Tour (the main tour), will be available. You can also learn more about Scotty and his mansion owners.

  • Golden Canyon

The Golden Canyon 3-mile loop, which is Death Valley’s most popular hike, will offer spectacular views of large canyons and sprawling rocky terrain. It also features the Red Cathedral, a stunning, towering red rock.

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You have the option to go left or right at the trailhead. You have the option to make it a loop and return one way, or you can hike out to Red Cathedral in the other direction.

  • Dante’s View

Dante’s View is a viewpoint terrace located on the north side Coffin Peak. It’s 5,475 feet high and is well-known as one of the most beautiful views in Death Valley. You can see Badwater Basin below from the main viewpoint. But, if time is not an issue, you can also head out on one of the nearby trails to get a different view.

General Death Valley Travel Tips

  • Get supplies in stock

Because there are very few options for grocery and restaurant choices in Death Valley, I recommend that you gather last-minute supplies in Baker, which is just outside of the park. Bear Market, a general store with all necessities, is a great option.

  • Acquire Maps

You will need to download offline maps before you go near the park. If you lose your service or are experiencing intermittent connectivity, it is a good idea to do so.

A paper map is a great way to be sure. I recommend you stop by the visitor’s centre for information and maps.

  • Take a bite

Mad Greek, an authentic Greek restaurant located in Baker just across the street from Bear Market, is the ideal place to grab a bite before you head into the park. There are many options at this family-owned restaurant.

  • Death Valley Packing Essentials

Water: Death Valley is one of the most dry places in North America. It’s a good idea to have plenty of water. You can use a Camelbak hydration system or keep some refillable water bottles handy.

Sun Protection: Make sure you have a sun hat, ball cap, sunglasses and sunscreen with you before you go out

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Footwear: When you head out on the rugged terrain of Death Valley, make sure to pack a pair of sturdy hiking shoes and moisture-wicking socks.