Death Valley National Park

Bucket List Death Valley National Park California Racetrack Playa Racing RocksRacetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest, and lowest point in North America.  While Death Valley is open year round, because of the extreme temperatures, the best time to visit Death Valley National Park, in my opinion, is actually in February or March. Both times I visited Death Valley in the summer, my car broke down.  That said, Death Valley has some beautiful geological features to it and I yearn to go back to take more photographs.

Death Valley National Park California Racetrack Playa Racing RocksRacetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

Not only is Death Valley National Park the hottest place in North America, it is also famous for being the hottest place on earth.

According to Wikipedia, “The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek, which is the highest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on earth. During the heat wave that peaked with that record, five consecutive days reached 129 °F (54 °C) or above.”  That’s pretty hot and demands respect and common sense.

Death Valley National Park California Racetrack Playa Racing RocksRacetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

In spite of the heat, I still think Death Valley has a lot to offer, and if planned right, can be an amazing trip.  In addition to amazing sunrises and sunsets, as well as painted desert landscapes, Death Valley is also home to some dark skies, allowing for stellar views of the stars and Milky Way.  As with all the National Parks, you could spend a lifetime in Death Valley National Park and still not see it all.  That said, there is plenty that can be done!  No matter how much time you have, Death Valley National Park has a beauty all its own.  Here are some tips to help make your visit to Death Valley National Park a good one!

Death Valley National Park Details & Location

Location: California | Area: 5,262 mi² | Established: October 31, 1994 | Visitors: 1,294,827 (in 2017)

Directions: The main entrances to Death Valley National park are found via CA-190 E from the west NV-374 S from the east.  You can also enter via Scotty’s Castle Road from the North East as well as CA-190 E from the south east.  Other roads enter Death Valley National Park but are not safe or well maintained for most vehicles.

I only have a few hours to visit Death Valley National Park:

If you only have a few hours to visit Death Valley National Park, here are my top recommendations for must-see attractions:

  • Mesquite sand dunes
  • Dante’s view
  • Badwater basin
  • Zabriskie point

I have a day to visit Death Valley National Park:

If you have a full day to visit Death Valley National Park, then I recommend the following:

  • Do all of the above PLUS
  • Artist’s Palette
  • Artist’s Drive (8 mile loop)
  • Devil’s Golf Course
  • Devil’s Cornfield

I want to live at Death Valley National Park:

If you have more than a day at Death Valley National Park, the opportunities are countless!  Here are some options for things you can do:

  • Do all of the above PLUS
  • Little Hebe Crater
  • Titus and Fall Canyons
  • Scotty’s Castle
  • Stay at Furnace Creek Ranch
  • Rhyolite Ghost Town

Best Sunrise Locations at Death Valley National Park

If you can wake up early enough, catching the sunrise at Death Valley National Park is worth it! But it only lasts for a short amount of time, so you want to choose your location ahead of time. After doing some research and looking at different photographs, I learned that the some of the best sunrise locations at Death Valley National Park are as follows:

  • Badwater Basin (lowest location in North America – 282 ft. below sea level)
  • Zabriskie Point
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (better chance of no footprints, but lighting better at sunset)
  • Racetrack Playa
  • West Side Road (Between Badwater Basin Parking Lot and Furnace Creek about a mile up)

Best Sunset Locations at Death Valley National Park

In addition to amazing sunrises, sunsets at Death Valley National Park are spectacular! I researched the best sunset locations at Death Valley National Park and came up with the following list:

  • Artist’s Drive (late afternoon or at twilight before and after the sun has set)
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (extra water, arrive 1 1/2 hour early 30 min hike from parking lot)
  • Badwater Basin
  • Racetrack Playa
  • West Side Road (Between Badwater Basin Parking Lot and Furnace Creek about a mile up)

Most Popular Hikes at Death Valley National Park:

Here is a list of some of the most popular hikes in Death Valley National park.

  • Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail – Easy
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Trail – Easy
  • Telescope Peak Trail – Hard
  • Dante’s View Trail – Easy
  • Zabriskie Point – Easy
  • Mosaic Canyon Trail – Easy
  • Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop via Zabriskie Point – Moderate
  • Artists Drive – Easy
  • Devil’s Golf Course – Easy
  • Darwin Falls Trail – Moderate (desert waterfall)

I hope you get the opportunity to visit Death Valley National Park for yourself. If not, at least you can see it through my photos! Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!

Happy travels!

Juventa Vezzani

One of my bucket list items is to visit all 60 National Parks! For detailed posts about my adventures, click here!

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Want to see more? Here is a list of articles that I have written to help you further explore Death Valley National Park: