Located along the border of California and Nevada, this mesmerizing landscape spans the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts. With its distinction as the largest national park in the contiguous United States, Death Valley boasts several remarkable features—it is not only the most extensive, but also the hottest, driest, and lowest-elevation park.
Death Valley National Park also has a rich history dating back thousands of years. It was once inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Timbisha Shoshone, who consider the valley their ancestral homeland. These tribes relied on the scarce resources of the desert, such as plants and wildlife, to sustain their communities.
In the mid-1800s, European-Americans explored the region, and it became a significant route for westward migration and mining during the California Gold Rush. The valley’s name, “Death Valley,” is attributed to a group of pioneers who, in 1849, struggled to cross the harsh landscape and nearly perished in the extreme conditions.
Throughout the years, the area saw mining booms, but they were often short-lived due to the challenges posed by the harsh environment. Today, the park preserves numerous historic sites, awe-inspiring beauty of hot deserts, rugged mountains, and captivating salt flats as you embark on an RV adventure to Death Valley National Park.
Additionally, volcanic activity in the past has shaped the landscape, leaving behind volcanic craters and colorful deposits. The salt flats at Badwater Basin, formed from ancient lakebeds and subsequent evaporation, create a mesmerizing expanse of white, making it one of the most striking features of the park.
During the peak summer season, it is advisable to limit outdoor activities to early morning or late evening when temperatures are more bearable. RV renters should plan to stay in shaded areas during the day and use air conditioning when available. Additionally, keeping a close eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories is essential to be aware of any potential dangers.
Your journey can lead you to natural hot springs, breathtaking stargazing spots, and invigorating hikes through the desert wilderness. When hunger strikes, make a stop at Furnace Creek for a satisfying meal. Afterward, venture into the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes or delve into history at the Keane Wonder Mine. From the comfort of your RV, you can marvel at the natural wonders, such as the salt flats at Badwater Basin and the striking rock formations of Devil’s Golf Course. And don’t miss the spectacular sunrise vista of the badlands at Zabriskie Point.
While the most popular time to visit is from October through April due to scorching summer temperatures exceeding 120 degrees, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities available throughout the year across the vast three-million-acre park.
Many must-see sites are accessible by RV, and there are several RV-friendly campgrounds to ensure you can rest in comfort. Most of the campsites permit generator usage during daytime hours, and you can conveniently find supplies in Furnace Creek, including food, gas, and other essentials.
For a chance to witness extraordinary natural wonders found nowhere else in the world, a trip through Death Valley National Park in an RV is an absolute must.
Anticipate scorching temperatures ranging from 110°F to 120°F+ (43°C to 49°C+). Ensure sufficient hydration by consuming ample water and carrying extra supplies. Refrain from hiking, especially after 10 am. Be well-prepared for survival during your journey. If experiencing heat-related health issues, promptly seek refuge in a cool area and seek immediate assistance.
From June 15 to September 15, fire restrictions apply to Thorndike, Wildrose, and Mahogany Flats campgrounds. Open flames are prohibited; however, controlled flame devices using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel sources and equipped with shut-off valves are permitted.
Numerous well-liked backcountry roads, like Titus Canyon and Hunter Mountain, are inaccessible due to severe damage caused by recent storms. For a comprehensive map, please click ‘more.’
Effective from June 1, 2023, Death Valley National Park will no longer accept cash payments for camping and park entrance fees. Only credit or debit card payments will be accepted. To pay entrance fees in advance, you can use the online platform at www.recreation.gov/sitepass/deathvalley.
Effective immediately, camping along Echo, Hole in the Wall, and Cottonwood/Marble roads requires a free permit. However, no permit is needed for day use. For further details, please click the link below.
Transportation options at Death Valley National Park include personal vehicles, RVs, and motorcycles. Visitors can access the park from various entrances, with Highway 190 crossing from east to west. However, some areas have restrictions on rig sizes due to unpaved or narrow roads and height limitations. It is essential to be prepared with a road map or travel atlas since cell phone reception and GPS reliability can be unreliable in some areas.
The park’s main visitor centers, such as Furnace Creek Visitor Center, and other popular destinations like Badwater Basin, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Zabriskie Point, typically offer designated parking spaces for RVs. However, it’s essential to be aware that not all areas within the park may be accessible to RVs due to size restrictions, narrow roads, or other limitations. Some remote areas and points of interest may require using alternative methods like hiking or biking. While RVs provide a comfortable and self-contained camping experience in Death Valley, it is recommended to use alternative transportation methods for exploring certain areas.
Overnight parking outside of designated campsites is generally not allowed in national parks, including Death Valley. RVs must stay at designated campgrounds with proper facilities and reservations. Several RV-friendly campgrounds within the park cater to visitors with recreational vehicles.
While public transportation is not offered in Death Valley National Park, visitors have other transportation options. For those arriving by train, the nearest Amtrak station is in Barstow. Cycling is a popular choice for exploring the park since it is allowed on all roads. Moreover, designated walking paths and trails are available for visitors to enjoy.
Located within the park’s vicinity, this campground offers 190 sites and is a favorite among visitors due to its strategic location and various activities. The campground provides easy access to attractions like Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Mosaic Canyon. The sites are equipped with fire rings, picnic tables, and access to potable water and restrooms. Stovepipe Wells Village Campground welcomes pets, making it a pet-friendly option. The campground is open from October through April, offering a comfortable retreat during the cooler months. It accommodates RVs and trailers up to 35 feet in length, providing suitable facilities for a memorable camping experience amidst Death Valley’s stunning landscapes.
Furnace Creek Campground offers 100 spacious sites. Reservations are available for up to 14 days during the peak season (October to mid-April), while the off-peak season operates on a first-come, first-served basis. As one of the most popular campgrounds, it provides convenient access to services and camper amenities. RVs of all sizes are accommodated, and eight sites offer full hookups. Generators are allowed between 7 AM and 7 PM. Campers have access to restrooms, a dump station, water, picnic tables, fire pits, and nearby hiking trails.
It provides ten sites for RV camping and is open year-round. The campground offers running water, flushable toilets, and a dump station for campers’ convenience. Generator usage is permitted between 7 AM and 7 PM. While the specific sizes of RVs and trailers they can cater to are not mentioned, it is advisable to consider smaller rigs as the campground may have maneuvering challenges for larger vehicles.
Sunset Campground is the largest in the park, with 270 campsites. It operates from November to April and welcomes RVs of all sizes. Campers have access to water, restrooms, and a dump station. The campground’s central location near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center allows easy access to major attractions. Generators are allowed from 7 AM through 7 PM.
Located high in the Panamint Mountains, this campground is open year-round with 23 sites available for RV camping. RV access is limited to vehicles up to 25 feet in length. Campers can enjoy running water, restrooms, picnic tables, and a fire pit amidst the beautiful mountain setting.
For those seeking a more adventurous and secluded experience, backcountry camping is allowed in some areas around Death Valley National Park. RV renters can explore the vast desert landscapes and set up camp away from paved roads and developed campgrounds, immersing themselves in the wilderness.
Open year-round, Emigrant Campground offers ten tent-only sites with access to restrooms, running water, and picnic tables. Nestled amidst captivating scenery, this campground provides breathtaking views of the valley, making it an ideal choice for nature enthusiasts.
Capture stunning sunrise and sunset photographs at Zabriskie Point, the park’s renowned viewpoint, showcasing vibrant colors across the eroded badlands. From this vantage, you can enjoy awe-inspiring vistas of golden badlands, undulating desert landscapes, and rugged mountains. For an unforgettable adventure, bring your camera and hike up to the viewpoint during sunrise or sunset, witnessing the desert sky ablaze with a mesmerizing array of colors. Located east of Furnace Creek, this viewpoint is accessible via a short hike.
During winter, this salt flat transforms into a shimmering white landscape, offering a surreal experience. It is the lowest point in North America and easily accessible from Highway 178, south of Furnace Creek.
This historical landmark, closed to visitors in 2015 due to flood damage, still captivates visitors with its unique architecture and intriguing history. Although tours are suspended, the castle’s exterior and surrounding gardens remain worth a visit. It is located north of Furnace Creek.
For seasoned adventurers seeking unparalleled views of Death Valley’s captivating scenery, a hike to Wildrose Peak is a must. This eight-mile trail leads to breathtaking vistas of lush peaks and vast desert valleys, making it an ideal opportunity for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The trailhead is conveniently accessible from a parking lot, accommodating RVs and vehicles up to 25 feet long. This challenging hike beautifully showcases the park’s diverse and enchanting aspects, promising an unforgettable experience for those in search of a thrilling outdoor adventure.
Embarking on a journey through the Owlshead Mountains offers a remarkable and lesser-known adventure for nature lovers. This trek provides an opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes of Death Valley, with enchanting canyons, rolling hills, and scenic desert wildflower meadows along the way. The experience is truly immersive, as you venture into the park’s less-explored areas, away from the usual crowds. With a distance of seven to 18 miles to cover, backpackers can relish the tranquility of the wilderness, fully experiencing the rugged beauty of the park.
This historical site provides insight into Death Valley’s mining history. In fall, the weather is milder, allowing for a more comfortable exploration. Harmony Borax Works is located near Furnace Creek. This significant location played a pivotal role in the area’s development, attracting borax miners and contributing to the region’s growth. Today, visitors can witness the remnants of settler buildings, railroad cars, wagons, and tools once utilized by these miners. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Death Valley National Park at Harmony Borax Works, where the heritage of the past comes alive before your eyes.
The Racetrack is an intriguing and remote valley in Death Valley National Park that offers an otherworldly experience for visitors. Accessible via a challenging road suitable for high-clearance 4×4 vehicles, the journey to the Racetrack is an adventure in itself. Once you arrive, you’ll be captivated by the wonder and striking beauty of the desolate landscape. However, the true fascination lies in the enigmatic phenomenon of moving rocks. For decades, scientists were baffled by the mysterious trails left behind by these rocks, some weighing up to 700 pounds, as they seemingly moved on their own across the valley floor. The solution to this peculiar occurrence was eventually revealed to be the result of an extraordinary climate, as the rocks slide along the muddy surface during rare instances of rainfall.
Perched at an elevation of over 5,000 feet, the viewpoint provides a panoramic vista of the surrounding landscape, with striking contrasts of salt flats, rugged mountains, and colorful badlands. The cooler temperatures create a pleasant atmosphere for exploration, and the changing foliage of desert vegetation adds subtle hues to the scenery. The golden light during fall evenings enhances the beauty, making it a favored spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts. With fewer crowds and stunning vistas, Dante’s View is a must-visit location during autumn in Death Valley.
Death Valley National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting a diverse habitat that attracts a wide range of desert birds. The park is home to fascinating species such as the cactus wren and the mountain bluebird, making it a sought-after destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. One of the best times to observe a plethora of avian visitors is during the fall, when numerous migratory birds pass through the area, adding a vibrant splash of color to the desert landscape. Popular bird-watching spots include Furnace Creek Ranch, Saratoga Spring, and Wildrose, where you can catch glimpses of these winged creatures in their natural environment. Carrying a bird guide will enhance your birdwatching experience, allowing you to identify and appreciate the diverse birdlife that graces Death Valley with its presence.
Hiking and photography at Ubehebe Crater offer a unique and rewarding experience. While the heat can be challenging, early mornings and late afternoons provide more comfortable conditions for exploring this massive volcanic crater. The hike takes you to the rim, providing breathtaking views of the desert landscape. Photography enthusiasts will find the striking geological features and vibrant colors perfect for capturing stunning images, especially during sunrise and sunset. Despite the high temperatures, witnessing the forces of nature at Ubehebe Crater offers a captivating adventure with necessary precautions and hydration.
These towering dunes, some of the tallest in North America, create a stunning backdrop against the desert landscape. To avoid extreme heat, it’s best to visit during cooler times of the day. The hike can be physically demanding, but the reward is breathtaking views from the top. It’s essential to be well-prepared with water, sun protection, and appropriate footwear. Photographers and nature enthusiasts will appreciate the unique beauty of the dunes. Respecting the delicate ecosystem and leaving no trace is crucial during the visit. Overall, Eureka Dunes offers a memorable and awe-inspiring experience for those who are prepared to explore the desert’s grandeur.
The otherworldly salt formations of Devil’s Golf Course are best explored during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid extreme heat. It is located off Badwater Road, south of Furnace Creek. This vast area features eroding rocks forming jagged spires, creating a mesmerizing and unique landscape. The summer heat can be intense, so it’s best to visit during cooler times of the day. The salt pan produces cracking sounds from the bursting salt crystals, adding to the allure of this rugged terrain. Proper preparation with water, sun protection, and suitable footwear is essential. Despite the challenges, witnessing the raw beauty of the Devil’s Golf Course in summer is a captivating adventure in Death Valley National Park.
During the summer, the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley National Park serves as an oasis for visitors seeking refuge from the extreme heat. It offers educational films and interpretive exhibits that explore the park’s natural and cultural history, enriching the visitor’s understanding of Death Valley. Knowledgeable park rangers are available to provide guidance and updates, and the gift shop offers a variety of souvenirs to commemorate the trip. Despite the intense heat, the center provides a cool and informative respite for a memorable and enjoyable visit.
During late March and April, Death Valley comes alive with vibrant Desert Gold wildflowers, creating a breathtaking display of color at Jubilee Pass. The golden carpet of wildflowers covers the desert floor, offering a mesmerizing sight for visitors. Jubilee Pass is easily accessible via Highway 178, providing a convenient opportunity to witness this natural wonder. As you drive or hike through the area, you’ll be immersed in a sea of yellow blooms, enhancing your Death Valley experience with the beauty of these ephemeral desert flowers. The sight of the Desert Gold wildflowers at Jubilee Pass is truly a spectacle worth exploring during their brief but glorious blooming season.
Offer a fantastic way to experience the natural wonders of Death Valley. During spring when temperatures are milder, visitors can cruise through the park’s diverse landscapes on their bikes. There are numerous bike trails catering to different skill levels, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From leisurely rides along Salt Creek Road to more challenging adventures on Trail Canyon Road, cyclists can soak in breathtaking views of rugged mountains, colorful canyons, and vast desert terrains. Biking is permitted on both paved roads and unpaved trails, allowing for a thrilling and immersive encounter with the park’s enchanting beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual biker, exploring Death Valley on two wheels promises an unforgettable and exhilarating experience.
The Artist’s Palette is a stunning scenic drive that captivates visitors with its vibrant and unique colors. Located along Artist’s Drive, this one-way, nine-mile loop road meanders through a kaleidoscope of rock formations showcasing an array of hues, including purples, pinks, greens, and yellows. These colorful shades are a result of various mineral deposits in the rocks. The best time to visit Artist’s Palette is during the late afternoon or early morning when the sunlight accentuates the colors, creating a surreal and unforgettable sight. The drive offers numerous viewpoints, allowing you to stop and take in the breathtaking scenery.
For Star Wars enthusiasts, the Star Wars Auto Tour in Death Valley National Park is a unique and exciting way to relive the iconic movie’s scenes. The original Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope, featured filming locations in Death Valley, specifically representing the fictional planet Tatooine. The tour takes you to six separate sites, including the famous Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which served as the backdrop for memorable scenes from the movie. Exploring these sites offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with the Star Wars universe and appreciate the stunning natural beauty of Death Valley simultaneously. As you venture through the park, you can retrace the steps of the legendary characters and immerse yourself in the magic of Star Wars history, making the tour an extraordinary and out-of-this-world experience for fans and visitors alike.