Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the nation besides Alaska boasting more than 3 million acres of federally protected land areas of wilderness, sand dunes, canyons, salt flats, and mountains. This is a lot of adventurous territory to explore, scramble, and trek through. With so many must see spots and interesting history, how can one pass up the opportunity to see this place! And on top of that, you can even take a tour of the locations where Star Wars was filmed!
Although, it is considered the hottest place on earth, it does have an average temperature of 100 degrees Farenheight in the Summer, Death Valley still is an incredible place to experience. As well, the other seasons especially Fall, can provide perfect weather conditions for an extraordinary adventure. Whether it is hiking through colorful canyons, scrambling over through badlands, or witnessing unobstructed views of ridges and valleys, this place will not disappoint.
“An adventure in the middle of the desert in Death Valley, California?” you might ask. My response is yes! This national park is spectacular to wander around and soak in the amazing fresh air, enjoy colorful rolling hills and mountains that surround you. We were once again pleasantly surprised of what this national park has to offer and all the adventure opportunities it has.
We started our day by hitting the road very early in the morning from San Diego and as usual we prepared for our road trip adventure by packing lunch, water, and serviced the car. Here is my vehicle prep blog I wrote earlier this year if you need a guide: Road trip preparation tips.
Since we knew this adventure would only be primarily a day trip, we took the route by going 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.
We finally arrived at the park and began our journey exploring around the area. Depending upon the amount of time you have to visit the park, there are so many interesting and historical places to see. 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 and over time, they move and leave a trail in the sand. Scientists are baffled as to how these rocks are moving. The area is called Racetrack Playa, and the mystery continues about these rocks also called ‘Sailing stones’ and their intriguing movement across the desert. 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 along Artists Drive and is the point where there is a look out and you can walk out onto some of the hills and take photos and explore the area.
Badlands and rolling hills painted with golden and reddish hues everywhere you turn. An area that is a result of once 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 thirsty for curiosity! The dunes are incredible to explore, hike, trek, and climb! We climbed and climbed as the sand was filling our shoes. But we finally made our way up and over the dunes, and saw a few folks with cameras and what appeared to be a photo shoot for a bridal wedding scene. Just in time for a stunning desert sunset over the dunes.
Death Valley carries a lot of history and is still home to the Shoshone Indians. These are a few highlights 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. Also in 1968; it was occupied by the infamous Mansion family for about a year before it was raided and the family members were jailed as a result of their vandalism to 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. We plan to return for another visit to this park in 2019.
We were also on the lookout for wild donkeys. 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.
We finished our incredible adventure at the park by taking Panamint Valley Road to Trona Road and went through the mineral mining town of Trona. Finally reaching US-395 to I-15 South returning home to San Diego.
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.
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 Capitol Reef National Park.
Death Valley brochure.