Death Valley

Introduction:


Where? : located in the eastern California, east of hwy 395 CA and west of hwy 95 NV, hwy 190 is going through the huge park east-west.

Google Map Link





 

What? : One of the Largest National Parks, huge desert landscape, hotest place on earth during summer, cold at wintertime. A lot of interesting places to visit in this huge park.

 

When? : the colder month of the years are the only option to visit this park (summer is totally not recommended time), winter can be cold but usually above freezing temperature. It less preferable to be here at winter rainstorm, happened only few times a year but the amount of rain create river to flood so check in advance.


 

Few notes about the visiting this park:

1. Always fill your gas when you can, there are few gas stations in the Death Valley but driving distance can be long (especially if you are sleeping outside the park).

2. Summer is too hot and not recommended at all, even for car trip

3. Winter is cold, it snows in the surrounding mountains, in the valley itself temperatures can be cold but usually above freezing at night and day time is much warmer.

4. There aren’t many options for resupply inside the park (few convenient stores at gas stations) and only few restaurants. Check in advance where you are staying for the night what are the nearby dinner options, see if you can make a reservation for dinner.

5. If you are going to remote off-road locations know what you are doing, 4x4 vehicle is highly recommended, off-road after rain is not recommended.

6. Make sure your visit is not right after major rain event, then all off-road locations can be completely inaccessible.

7. There are few organized campsites in the park, try to book in advance, I think that for the one near Stovepipe Wells has also “first come first serve” option (pay at the self-pay station), check in the park website


 

Hotels & Sleeping Options:

1. Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel: Simple but good, excellent location near the sand dunes + nice restaurant for dinner

2. Furnace Creek: I did not stay here

3. Panamint Springs Resort: Very simple place but an option, I did not stay here

4. at the towns of Beatty or Pahrump Nevada: Towns outside the park with hotels and restaurants (can visit ghost town Rhyolite), I did not stay here

5. Lone Pine California: this is not so far option and you can stay there at the day before or day after the park visit.


 

My thoughts: This visit is in this park is different; you are visiting interesting desert places that are isolated from each other and you need to drive from attraction to attraction.

I always visited here in winter and even if it snowed it is not so much cold at daytime.

I still did not visit here with 4x4 vehicle, but this is defiantly on my to-do list…

 

The visit:

As one of the largest parks in the US this park visit is different from others. Visiting this vast desert landscape looks like driving in any other desert landscape with attraction that are spared and not “connected” to each other. Although there is main valley to explore there are few major mountain range and other valleys. Most of the visitors are traveling along the main roads and attraction sites can be crowded (like sand dunes, Badwater, Golden Canyon, …).


Attraction to visit:

 

Father Crowley Overlook:

This is a nice stop on the way, a high viewing point (+restrooms 😊) on the large deep canyon. This canyon is being used by nearby air-force base for canyon flying training. If you see someone with radio scanner and check with them if they can hear the pilots coming and you will see the airplanes flying down in the canyon, a nice and noise view.

 

Darwin Falls:

The drive to the trail head starts from hwy 190 just west of Panamint Springs Gas station. Few miles off-road drive in the dry riverbed will bring you to the trail head on your right. After less than one-mile walk in the dry river you will reach a green section that has running water year-round. After less than additional ½ a mile you will reach the nice waterfall. This is not a long hike, there is no shade so bring with you enough water. Overall this visit can take up to 2 hr.

 

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes:

This is one of the park attraction point. Highly recommended place for sunset and sunrise, come enough time in advance so you can get into the dunes. The large dunes are at list 30 min walk into the dune.

Go deep into the dunes, as you progress you will see less people but do plan not to be alone over there. People are staying there late at night for star pictures and come early morning at the darkness to get first sunshine hitting the dunes.

Some bring with them sand-board, but I must admit it does not look like a lot of fun …



 

Harmony Borax Works:

A short stop on the way, to learn about Borax mining activity and the twenty-mule team wagon, very short walk out from the parking lot.


Artist's Palette:

A short loop one-way drive with the car, can have short hikes at the different stops, nice to see the colored rock up close

 

Devil's Golf Course:

A nice place to see the salt rocks, need to drive 15 min on un-paved good but bumpy road to the end of it, get out of the car and see the sharp rock formations

 

Natural Bridge Trail:

A nice hike in the canyon, In & Out, the arch is less than a mile into the canyon, you can keep going inside, very nice and with less people …

 

Badwater Basin:

The lowest point in the USA.

Walk into the dray Salt Lake, go as much as you want. It is highly recommended to get at list ½ mile into the dray bad where it is completely white flat with salt triangles formation on the surface. You can keep going inside, the more you walk the less people you will see, Bring enough water.



 

 

Additional Death Valley attractions that I did not visit yet:

Mosaic Canyon Trail: I did not visit there but I think it is nice hike, In & Out the same way, you can go as much you want up to reaching some dry waterfall.

 

Zabriskie Point: Just off hwy 190 on the way out of the park east, a nice viewpoint on the yellow mountains, good for sunrise.

 

Golden Canyon: This is a nice canyon hike, walk as much as you want and go back to your car, did not visit this place but looks very nice.

 

Dante’s View: Viewpoint, long drive with the car to mountain top with a view of the Death Valley

 

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns: Interesting place of well preserve rounded Charcoal Kilns, long drive and can go up to the mountain-top

 

Eureka Dunes: Send Dunes located in the north isolated section of the park.

 

The Racetrack: Amazing place were large stones create a moving track in the dray muddy soil (created during winter icy and windy days), need 4x4 car

 

Saline Valley Warm Springs: Nature hot springs in the middle of the desert, need 4x4

 

Little Hebe Crater: Interesting volcano crater

 

Titus Canyon Rd: one-way, east to west, 4x4 driving trip, starting point is outside the Death Valley near Beatty NV

 

Rhyolite: Ghost town ruins, recommended to visit if you are sleeping at Beatty NV


 

www:

https://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm

 

map:

https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/upload/devamap1a.pdf

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