In a lonely spot in the northern Mojave Desert, a visit to Death Valley is an opportunity to dance with nature’s extreme forces that converge in this low, hot, and dry desert valley. Death Valley is a superb travel destination for desert lovers and adventurers hunting for that off-the-grid allure.
Hottest, Driest, Lowest: Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth, the driest U.S. national park, and features the lowest elevation in North America. These extremes come together to form one unforgettable adventure.
The Landscape: A spectacular desert where nearly all colors of the rainbow can be seen on deeply eroded canyon walls, dry lakes, and sand dunes. Don’t trust the name, Death Valley is alive in so many ways.
Off The Grid Vibe: It isn’t rare to see no other human for several hours during the day, and nothing but millions of stars in the night sky. In Death Valley, even the smallest outing requires planning.
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Death Valley is during the spring, followed by fall. Here’s what you can expect during each season at Death Valley.
Winter: the days are pleasantly warm but the nights are very cold so pack accordingly. The short winter days mean less daytime sightseeing which may justify overnighting inside the park. The occasional rainfall might cause flash flooding so stay cautious and alert.
Spring: the days are getting longer and daytime temperatures are still manageable. If winter has brought rainfall this year, flowers and wildlife will make you question Death Valley’s name
Summer: it now seems that Death Valley’s name does it justice. Daytime temperatures are extreme (to say the least) and the night brings little relief. That said, the days are long so if you can handle the heat, there’s a lot of ground that can be covered. When visiting Death Valley during the summer, you must be well-prepared and exercise extreme caution.
Fall: average daytime temperatures are beginning to decrease but it’s still very hot. This is a great time to visit Death Valley, though very little flora has managed to survive the scorching summer.
Most of Death Valley’s prime highlights can be experienced in a single day, even if visiting Death Valley on a day trip. Spending the night inside the park unlocks opportunities to experience glorious sunsets and stargazing. If you have two days to spend in Death Valley, you can pretty much cover all the park’s highlights, including one or two distant spots.
Inside the National Park
The park’s sole luxury option is the Inn at Death Valley. In furnace Creek, the historic Ranch at Death Valley is a popular option with a prime location in the valley’s “commercial hub”. Another solid option is the motel at Stovepipe Wells which also features a reasonably-priced gas station, mini-market, campground, and a restaurant. Slightly out of the way, the Panamint Springs Resort is the third option.
As far as camping, there are ten campsites in Death Valley with varying degrees of popularity and services.
Outside the National Park
On your in or out of Death Valley, towns on its periphery can serve as a gateway or as a nightly refuge. For those en route to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, the town of Lone Pine is a good option, Barstow is the first town with proper motels along Interstate 15 south of Death Valley, and Beatty is just beyond the Nevada state line.
Most of Death Valley’s star attractions are located in and around Furnace Creek and Badwater. These include panoramic lookouts, short hikes, and scenic drives. In the more distant sections of the park, you’ll find superb road trips on backcountry roads, Ubehebe Crater, longer hikes, and even a desert oasis. Here’s a guide to the top 10 things to do in Death Valley.