Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the nation. With the exception of Alaska, it boasts more than 3 million acres of federally protected land areas of wilderness, sand dunes, canyons, salt flats, and mountains. There is so much adventurous territory to explore, scramble, and trek through. And on top of that, you can even take a tour of the locations where Star Wars was filmed! Here is my list of what to see in Death Valley in one day.
With an average temperature of 100 degrees, it is considered the hottest place on earth. Which isn’t too bad considering it is the desert. Death Valley is an incredible place to experience. Hiking through colorful canyons, scrambling over and through badlands, or witnessing unobstructed views of ridges and valleys; this place will not disappoint.
You might ask the question: “An adventure in the middle of the desert in Death Valley, California, what?” My response is yes! This national park is spectacular to explore and enjoy the colorful rolling hills and mountains that surround you.
Our day trip to Death Valley was amazing. We prepared for our road trip adventure by packing lunch, water, and servicing the car. Please read about my vehicle prep blog here: Road trip preparation tips.
Our route took us north via State Route 127 from Baker to Shoshone and Death Valley Junction with connections to the park on State Route 178 from Shoshone and connection with California Highway 190 at Death Valley Junction.
Things To See
There are several interesting and historical points of interest in Death Valley. Including the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek where there is an incredible video-movie they offer that portrays several historical and interesting insights into Death Valley.
One of the interesting topics discussed in the movie is that in a particular part of the park, there are several large rocks sitting in the bed of a dry lake. Over time, these stones move and leave a trail in the sand. Scientists are baffled as to how these rocks are moving. Read more about this topic here:
This area of the park is truly remarkable in that it is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level! And the salt flats are amazing! The feeling of a cool twist in the air, with the warming sun, and the ‘extra’ oxygen intake can make you feel like a million bucks!
This scenic drive is spectacular and is a one way drive-through loop that takes you 9 miles between multi colored rolling hills that will have you saying wow!
This area is just a short distance from Artists Drive and is the point where there is a look and observe from a distance, or you can walk out onto some of the rolling hills and scramble through and explore the area.
The badlands and rolling hills painted with golden and reddish hues are everywhere you turn. And with the passage of time and highly active earthquakes and violent waters, this serene setting was submerged under water as it was filled with sparkling lakes.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Rising nearly 100 feet from the Mesquite Flats, these beautiful sand dunes will have you thirsting for more! The dunes are incredible to explore, hike, trek, and climb! This place is a perfect setting for a bridal photo shoot, and we saw folks with cameras and a bridal dress scrambling across the dunes to catch a sunset.
Other Points of Interest
Death Valley carries a lot of history and is still home to the Shoshone Indians. We were able to fit as many things to see here all in one day, but there is much more to explore. Take a look at these highlights that you may wish to explore as well:
- -Scotty’s Castle *A glance into the times during the Roaring 20’s and Great
Depression of the 30’s. (Temporarily closed at this time.-Nov 2018)
- -Furnace Creek Inn *Opened in 1927 by the Pacific Coast Borax Mining Co.
- -Harmony Borax Works *A mine that processed borax ore from 1884 to 1888
- -Keane Wonder Mine *Historical gold mine
- -Death Valley ghost towns and silent ruins
- -Wild Rose Charcoal Kilns *Beehive shaped structures that helped process
silver/lead ore built in 1877.
- -Barker Ranch *Once the ranch was a sanctuary for recreational ranchers.
Did You Know?
Interesting Note: In 1968; Barker Ranch was occupied by the infamous Mansion family for about a year. The family raided the ranch and were later jailed because they vandalized the property.
We had an amazing day at Death Valley National Park as it was full of interesting exploration over badlands and salt basin, painted hillsides along Artists Drive, and an exciting drive through narrow roadways of steep and curvy pathways.
There are invasive burros throughout Death Valley. They are destroying water resources for other animals, stomp around and mess the fragile spring habitat. It is suggested that you do not feed them, do not approach them or exit your vehicle.
As our road trip came to an end, we took a different route for our return trip by taking Panamint Valley Road to Trona Road. The route leads through the mineral mining town of Trona, connecting to US-395 to I-15 South returning home to San Diego.
More information on Death Valley National Park: DIRECTIONS
Death Valley National Park
PO Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328
Off road driving is strictly prohibited!
Camping is available.
Cabins/lodging is available:
The Oasis at Death Valley, Panamint Springs Resort
The park is a great place to ride bicycle. Please note that pets other than service animals, are not allowed in certain areas of the park. Check the website for more specific information before you go.
Find more adventure and take a journey with me through Joshua Tree National Park.
Death Valley brochure.
I have always wanted to visit Death Valley; the heat, the barren landscape, it all fascinates me. I remember when I was a child someone said you could fry an egg on the ground it was so hot and ever since then I have wanted to visit. Thanks for sharing, pinned! #FeetDoTravel
It is amazing how interesting Death Valley is, the thing that fascinates me are those moving rocks/stones in the sand.. leaving their trail. Wow! Even scientists are challenged as to why that is happening. Yeah,.. the frying the egg on the ground.. ha. In Arizona, it so hot some people have cooked on their dashboards.. something called ‘Dashboard Cooking’ lol! Hope you do get the opportunity to visit Death Valley, we plan to rent lodging/cabin and stay a weekend to see the night sky- Milkyway, next year. 🙂
The scenery looks amazing. It’s fascinating how similar it is to our Negev Desert. Love the blue skies!
Yes, it does look very similar! And the weather is so beautiful (Nov-Dec) with those gorgeous blue skies! I followed you on your blog, and notice you are a graphic designer too. 🙂
Never thought to visit the hottest place in North America but Death Valley looks absolutely amazing!
We thought the same thing! Would never have thought to take the time to drive to this place that out in the middle of nowhere, but we are so happy we did! What an amazing place to experience and see!
I’ve always wanted to go here but have yet to do so — and I live in California! Thanks for inspiring me with your post!
Oh, wow, you must go Sharon. Death Valley is so interesting and has so much beauty, and it is so peaceful out there! And so happy to hear you’ve been inspired! One of my slogans is: Inspiring Adventure Everyday! 🙂 I hope you go, I look forward to reading and seeing your adventure!
Awesome, Sharon! Hope you do get the chance to visit Death Valley! It’s pretty amazing!
Wow I have heard of Death Valley so it was great to see it in your pics! Definitely one for the USA bucket list!
We were pleasantly surprised of how awesome Death Valley turned out to be. And how cool, interesting, and beautiful it is! Yes, if you have the chance, you should check out Death Valley. Glad you enjoyed the pics! We plan to go back, and stay the night. 🙂
Looks like an incredible place to visit, definitely another US roadtrip I’ll have to look in to making at some point. Might do it in a ‘colder’ month though as I expect it’d be too much in the summer haha.
Oh yes, the colder months are the perfect time to visit Death Valley… (winter time) because Summer might be just a little over heated! Ha lol! Thank you for reading!
The rocks are so colourful and otherworldly. Chile has the same Death Valley as well. I hope to visit one day.
Yes, Death Valley is such an interesting park. The salt basin and the sand dunes are very cool. And this Zabriskie Point is so neat you can hike all over these rolling formations. You feel like you are on a different planet. And yes, similar to some places in Chile. Thanks so much for reading Jane!
What a fascinating place! Those painted rocks are so pretty in that barren landscape. Lots of fun to explore I’m sure!
Yes, it certainly is fascinating! The artist palette is absolutely gorgeous with those colors of the sand/rocks. I am hoping to get back out there (although not easy to get to that park, 5 hour drive from San Diego); and do more hiking trails and stay overnight in the park and stargaze at night! Thanks for reading!!
Well I can’t explain them rocks. Maybe the burros are doing it. Would love to see artists palette. Beautiful.
Yes! lol! I thought it was so interesting how these rocks are moving out there on their own. I think you would enjoy this park immensely!