Best Things to Do in Death Valley National Park, CA: Don't Miss Anything

Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. It boasts stunning landscapes, unique geological features, and an array of plant and animal life. In this blog post, I’ll share our top things to do in Death Valley National Park, CA.

There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Death Valley National Park. Some highlights include hiking through canyons and valleys, exploring ghost towns like Rhyolite Nevada, driving through Artist Drive (a scenic route with colorful rock formations), visiting natural hot springs like those at Furnace Creek Ranch, stargazing at one of the darkest night skies in the country, and much more.

Climate and temperature in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has a climate and temperature that varies depending on the time of year. The park experiences an extreme desert climate with hot summers and cold winters. The average high temperature in summer is 115 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low temperature in winter is 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best time to visit Death Valley National Park is during the spring or fall when temperatures are more moderate. Winter can also be a great time to visit if you enjoy cooler weather and fewer crowds.

Death Valley National Park Ruins
Matthew Dillon / Flickr

However, temperatures in Death Valley can vary greatly depending on the time of day and year. On rare occasions, rain, hail and even flooding can occur.

Why is Death Valley so hot?

Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth. It is located in the Mojave Desert in California. It is a desert and deserts are typically hot because they receive direct sunlight and there is no vegetation to block the sun’s rays.

Death Valley is also surrounded by mountains that trap heat and prevent air circulation. The region is known for its extremely hot and dry conditions. The record high temperature in the region is 134 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius).

Best time to visit Death Valley?

The best time to visit Death Valley National Park is from October to April. During this time, temperatures are more moderate and there’s less chance of rain or snow.

However, even during these months it’s important to take precautions against the heat: wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, and take breaks in the shade when possible.

Death Valley National Park Ruins
Matthew Dillon / Flickr

Entrance fees to Death Valley

The national park entrance fee is $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle for a 7-day pass. You can also purchase an Annual Pass to Death Valley National Park and receive free entry throughout the year.

Death Valley National Park Map
Map of Death Valley National Park

What should I not miss in Death Valley?

There are a few things that you definitely don’t want to miss during your visit to Death Valley National Park! Here are some of them and 1 day itinerary map in Death Valley.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

In the middle of the valley there are sand dunes that look amazing. You can walk on these sand dunes that look like a desert. There is no path, it is pure sand. You may come across people skiing on the soil with ski equipment.

Death Valley Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Gemma / Flickr

This is a preferred area for sunset photographers. If you come 1-2 hours before sunset, you can catch great photos. You can leave your car in the parking lot nearby. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water when visiting this or any other spot.

Dante’s View

The view offers visitors a stunning panoramic view of the valley, including salt flats, sand dunes and mountains. Dante’s View is also a great place to watch the sunset or sunrise.

It is located half an hour from the main road to the viewing point and no further. You return the same way again. Since the road is steep, those traveling with heavy vehicles such as caravans may need to leave their vehicles in one of the parking lots.

Badwater Basin Salt Flats

Badwater Basin is a salt flat in Death Valley National Park, CA. It is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet (85 meters) below sea level.

The basin is dry most of the year, but it can fill with water after heavy rains. The water evaporates quickly, leaving behind a layer of salt.

Death Valley Badwater Basin
Badwater Basin Shawn Yang / Flickr

Twenty Mule Team Canyon

This canyon got its name from the mule teams that used to haul borax out of the valley. Today, it is a popular spot for hiking and picnicking. The canyon is located in the southern part of the park, near the town of Furnace Creek.

Zabriskie Point

The point offers stunning views of the valley below, and is a great place to watch the sunset. There are several hiking trails in the area, and you can also find a number of geologic features to explore.

Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette, Death Valley

In the Artists’ Palette section of Death Valley National Park you will find a colorful landscape formed over millions of years.

Minerals in the soil and rocks have oxidized and produced shades of green, blue, yellow, pink, purple and red. The result is a beautiful landscape that looks like something out of a painting.

Death Valley Artists Palette
Maria Kotsonia

You can explore the Artists’ Palette on foot or by car. There are several short paths winding through the area, or you can take a short drive to reach the different lookout points. Either way, you will enjoy the views of the vibrant hillsides and valleys below.

Devil’s Golf Course

Devil’s Golf Course is one of the most unique landscapes in Death Valley National Park. It is a large, dry lake bed covered in salt crystals that have been sculpted by the wind into strange and otherworldly shapes.

The best way to experience Devil’s Golf Course is to take a hike out onto the salt flats. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as there is no shade out on the flats.

Natural Bridge

Death Valley National Park is home to a number of natural bridges, which are formed when water erodes the rock beneath the surface. The most famous of these is the Natural Bridge, which is located in the center of the park.

Where is the best place to see sunrise or sunset?

There are many places in Death Valley National Park where you can see an incredible sunrise or sunset. One of the most popular spots is Zabriskie Point, which offers panoramic views of the valley below. Other great spots include Artist’s Drive, Dante’s View, and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

Death Valley Things To Do
Ernesto Bordenave

Where to stay near Death Valley National Park?

If you’re looking for a place to stay near Death Valley National Park, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can find hotels and motels in the nearby towns of Beatty, Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, and Panamint Springs. There are also several camping options within the park itself.

If you’re looking for something more luxurious, the Inn at Death Valley is a beautiful option that’s just minutes from the park entrance. Or, for a truly unique experience, consider staying at The Ranch at Death Valley, which offers guests the chance to stay in historic cabins or inn rooms.

Hotels near Death Valley National Park

The Inn at Death Valley: The Inn at Death Valley is one of the most popular lodges in Death Valley National Park. This 4-star resort features an on-site spa, restaurants, and bars, as well as an outdoor pool.

The lodge is situated in a prime location for exploring all that the park has to offer. There are a variety of rooms and suites to choose from, each with its own unique amenities.

The Ranch at Death Valley: The Ranch at Death Valley is a historic resort located in Death Valley National Park, California. It was originally built in the early 20th century as a luxury resort for Hollywood celebrities and dignitaries. Today, the Ranch is open to the public and offers a variety of accommodations, activities, and amenities.

Death Valley Accommodation Options
Where to stay near Death Valley? Hotels are one of the accommodation options. The Inn at Death Valley

Guests at the Ranch can choose from a variety of room types, including suites, bungalows, and cottages. The Ranch also has its own golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, and fitness center. In addition to these on-site facilities, the Ranch offers a variety of activities and excursions for guests to enjoy during their stay.

For those on a budget, Stovepipe Wells Village and Panamint Springs Resort are both great choices. Both of these resorts offer basic accommodations at relatively affordable prices. Additionally, both resorts offer easy access to all of the attractions in Death Valley National Park.

RV resorts & campsites near Death Valley

RV resorts and campsites near Death Valley National Park offer travelers a chance to experience the incredible landscapes and wildlife of the area up close. There are a number of different RV parks and campgrounds to choose from, each with its own unique amenities and activities.

Some of the most popular RV resorts and campsites near Death Valley National Park include Furnace Creek Resort, Stovepipe Wells Campground. Furnace Creek Resort is one of the most luxurious RV resorts in the area, offering an oasis-like setting complete with full hookups, a swimming pool, golf course, and more. Stovepipe Wells Village is another great option for those looking for full hookups and amenities like a general store and gas station.

Death Valley National Park Scenic Locations

Texas Springs Campground is a great choice for those who want to explore the area on foot or by bike, as it offers easy access to hiking trails and other outdoor activities. Sunset Campground is ideal for stargazers, as it offers clear views of the night sky away from light pollution. Each of these locations offers something slightly different, so be sure to do some research before deciding on the perfect spot for your trip.

Pahrump RV Park & Lodging is an RV park and campground located in Pahrump, Nevada. This RV park offers full hookup sites, cabins, and tent camping sites. Pahrump RV Park & Lodging also offers a variety of amenities and activities for its guests, including a swimming pool, hot tub, laundry facilities, and a playground.

What to Do in Death Valley?

Keane Wonder Mine

Located in the heart of the park, the mine offers visitors the chance to see a real gold mine. Operated until 1942, visit the NPS official website to learn more about this mine. You can come across many similar ruins from the past in the region.

Death Valley National Park Keane Wonder Mine
Death Valley National Park Harmony Borax Works
Harmony Borax Works Clemens Lindner

Rainbow Canyon

The colorful canyon walls are a result of years of erosion from the nearby Amargosa River. Visitors can hike to the canyon floor or take a scenic drive through the canyon.

Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater is a large, crater that was created by a volcanic eruption about thousands years ago. The crater is surrounded by cinder cones and lava flows, and is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Death Valley National Park. There are several trails that lead to the bottom of the crater, where you can see the colorful rocks and ash that make up its walls.

Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon is a must-see when visiting Death Valley National Park. This canyon is full of colorful rocks and interesting formations. It’s a great place to explore and take pictures.

Death Valley National Park Mosaic Canyon
MSWhite / Flickr

Scotty’s Castle

The castle was built in the early 1900s by Walter Scott, aka “Death Valley Scotty.” Scotty was a colorful character who claimed to have found gold in the area and used it to finance the construction of the castle.

Death Valley National Park Scottys Castle
Scottys Castle in Death Valley National Park Gary Prince

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns are a set of 10 beehive-shaped kilns located in the Panamint Mountains near the town of Wildrose in Death Valley National Park. The kilns were used to produce charcoal for the smelting of lead and silver ore from the local mines.

Top facts about Death Valley National Park

Before heading to Death Valley National Park, there is some information you need to know.

  • Death Valley National Park has some of the darkest skies in the country. The clear night skies make Death Valley National Park an excellent place for stargazing.
  • Death Valley Is the Hottest Place on Earth: The record-high temperature of 134°F (56.7°C) was recorded at Furnace Creek Ranch on 1913.
  • Death Valley Is the Lowest Point in North America: Badwater Basin is 282 feet (85 meters) below sea level.
  • The park’s landscape has been featured in many famous Hollywood films, such as Star Wars.
  • If you are interested in hiking and want to buy a book about it, you can buy the book Moon Death Valley National Park, or from A Falcon Guide, A Guide to the Park’s Greatest Hiking Adventures and Best Easy Day Hikes Series.

Things to consider for your safety

There are some risks associated with visiting Death Valley National Park, including dehydration, heat stroke, and hypothermia. However, these risks can be minimized by preparing for your visit and taking precautions such as carrying plenty of water and avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest hours of the day.

  • While there are many scenic drives and hikes in the park, be sure to check conditions before you go. Some roads and trails may be closed due to weather or other conditions.
  • Remember that wildlife in the park is wild. Do not approach or feed any animals, and be sure to keep your food and trash securely stored so as not to attract wildlife.
  • Because the park is large, you may experience cell phone signal problems. It is preferable to leave your car in frequently used areas so that you can call for help in case your car breaks down.
  • If you’re visiting Death Valley National Park during the summer months, be sure to take precautions against the heat. To avoid heat-related illness, drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. If you must hike, choose a trail with little exposure to direct sunlight.
  • There are many poisonous animals in Death Valley National Park. The most dangerous animal in the park is the rattlesnake. There are many different species of rattlesnakes in the park, and they are all highly venomous. Other poisonous animals in the park include scorpions, spiders, and centipedes. These creatures can all deliver painful and sometimes deadly stings or bites. Be sure to avoid them if possible, and never try to handle them.
  • Visitors to Death Valley need to be aware of the dangers of flash floods. These floods can occur with little or no warning, and can be deadly. If you are visiting the park during the rainy season check the weather forecast and avoid hiking in areas that are prone to flooding.

Where is Death Valley National Park, California?

Death Valley National Park is located in southeastern California, about two hours east of Fresno. The best way to get there is by car, as public transportation options are very limited. Once you’re in the park, you can explore by foot, bike, or car. If you’re looking to experience one of the most unique and beautiful places on Earth, a trip to Death Valley National Park is a must.

From Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park

The national park is just 2 hours (150 miles) drive from the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas.

If you want to make a day trip out of it, you can also consider taking a tour from Las Vegas. There are various companies that offer tours of the national park and its many attractions.

From Los Angeles to Death Valley National Park

The national park is 270 miles from Los Angeles. That takes about 4.30 hours.

Can you drive through Death Valley National Park?

Yes, you can drive through Death Valley National Park! The park is open all year round and there are many spots to explore.

Closest airport to Death Valley National Park Airport

The nearest airport to Death Valley National Park is Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Once at the airport, you will need to rent a car to get to Death Valley National Park as there is no public transportation available.


Death Valley National Park is a must-see for anyone visiting California. From hiking and camping to stargazing and exploring the unique landscape. So you will never be bored. Just watch out for the sun.