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Spotlight: Death Valley National Park

Spotlight: Death Valley National Park

Hottest, driest and lowest–a land of extremes

Death Valley, NPS The view from the castle gate at Scotty's Castle. (Ken Schroeder/Share the Experience)

What You’ll Find

An unparalleled desert oasis that offers visitors a unique look at both an intensely colorful landscape and a rich history. Diversity thrives in Death Valley National Park—its over three million acres (1.2 million hectares) of desert and mountains stretch from California into Nevada, where you can walk below sea level on salt flats that can be “the hottest place on Earth” or hike to the 11,049 feet (3,360 m) or 9,064 feet (2,760 m) summits of frosty Telescope and Wildrose Peaks.

Visitors to Death Valley arrive curious—not sure what to expect—and leave with a healthy respect for the fragile landscape, intense heat, colorful human stories and wonderful surprises that mother nature affords in this often stark landscape. Watch closely as the desert may transform into a vast field of wildflowers with one rare rain storm!

Getting There

Death Valley National Park is located east of Bakersfield, California, and west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit the park website for directions and various routes including the most direct routes from Las Vegas. Use these maps to help you plan your adventure.

Take note! GPS navigation to remote locations like Death Valley is notoriously unreliable. Numerous travelers have been directed to the wrong location or even dead-end or closed roads. Travelers should always carry up-to-date road maps to check the accuracy of GPS directions. Read other things to know before you come to help you plan your trip.

Make Sure You

Book a spot on one of the Scotty’s Castle tours. The House Tour takes you through the Castle that some say Death Valley Scotty built with money from his secret gold mine. Others say Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson built it. Regardless of who was responsible, the Castle is a testament to the ingenuity and character of the people involved.

The Castle is a beautiful example of Spanish-Mediterranean style. It’s filled with unique hand-made wrought iron and tile, custom-made furniture, hand-selected tapestries and European antiques.

Other tours include the Lower Vine Ranch Hike where you’ll see Scotty’s rustic home and outbuildings and the Underground Tour, where you’ll walk in the underground, concrete-lined tunnels below the Castle (and see a demonstration of the Pelton Water Wheel once used to provide electricity in the Castle).

Stay Here

Camp under the stars at Furnace Creek Campground. Centrally located near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, the campground offers reservations for its 130 campsites and accommodates RVs and tent campers. The park also offers several first-come, first-served campgrounds. If camping is not your thing, try one of the park lodges.

Try This

Experience the wonder of a full moon in Death Valley. Walk with a ranger and discover the powerful silence of moonlit canyons, looming sand dunes or sparkling salt flats as you are guided through these unique features.

The park offers several ranger-led programs and tours throughout the year or visit the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

Don’t Forget

If you’re prepared and use common sense, a visit to Death Valley during the summer is not out of the question. However, with summer temperatures upwards of 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 degrees Celsius), cooler, more moderate temperatures beckon during the late fall, winter and early spring.

Get Started!

View the captivating images in the Death Valley National Park online photo gallery. These images may help you determine your interests while contemplating a visit to the park. Whether it’s the colorful rocks of Artist’s Drive or delicate formations of the salt flats at Badwater Basin, the possibilities of discovery are endless!