Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park: Facts, Map, Weather, Time, Tips

Death Valley National Park, spanning across the border of eastern California and Nevada, is a land of captivating contrasts and natural wonders waiting to be explored. Its diverse landscape offers a tapestry of experiences for visitors to immerse themselves in. This article will give an overview of Death Valley National Park weather, map, camping, hotels, California, lodging, open, things to do, facts, visitor center, etc.

Death Valley National Park: Facts, Map, Weather, Time, Tips

One of the park’s highlights is Titus Canyon, a geological marvel showcasing a ghost town nestled amidst vibrant and multicolored rock formations. As visitors traverse through this canyon, they embark on a journey through time, witnessing the layers of history etched into the rugged terrain. The canyon’s walls whisper tales of ancient civilizations and the forces of nature that have shaped this remarkable landscape over millennia. Each twist and turn reveals a new chapter, inviting exploration and igniting the imagination of all who venture here.

Badwater Basin: The Depths of Nature’s Marvels

At Badwater Basin, visitors are greeted by a surreal expanse of salt flats, stretching endlessly towards the horizon. This remarkable landscape boasts the title of being the lowest point in North America, a testament to the raw power and beauty of nature. As visitors stand amidst the vastness of the basin, they are humbled by the sheer magnitude of this natural marvel, pondering the forces that have sculpted such awe-inspiring features over time.

Telescope Peak Trail: Scaling Heights Amidst Pines

Above the valley floor, the Telescope Peak Trail offers adventurers the opportunity to ascend amidst majestic pine trees, reaching for the sky with their towering presence. This winding path leads intrepid hikers on a journey to the summit, where panoramic views of the surrounding landscape await as a reward for their efforts. With each step, the air grows crisper, and the scent of pine fills the senses, creating a sensory experience unlike any other.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: A Haven for Life Amidst Desolation

In the northern reaches of the park, beyond the spiky salt mounds of the Devil’s Golf Course, lies the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, a desert oasis teeming with life. Despite the harsh and unforgiving environment, resilient creatures such as rattlesnakes make their home amidst the shifting sands. Here, the dance of light and shadow paints a mesmerizing tableau, inviting visitors to witness the delicate balance of life and desolation that defines this unique ecosystem.

Exploring the Contrasts

In Death Valley, the land of extremes, the landscape is shaped by regular droughts and scorching summer temperatures, creating a stark environment that seems inhospitable to life. However, amidst these harsh conditions, there exists a surprising diversity of ecosystems. The contrast is evident: while the peaks of the valley are often covered in a blanket of winter snow, the rare rainstorms transform the arid land into vast fields of colorful wildflowers. Within this seemingly barren terrain, there are hidden pockets of life, including lush oases that provide refuge for a variety of flora and fauna. Despite its ominous name, Death Valley is teeming with life, showcasing nature’s resilience in the face of adversity.

Vast Wilderness

Spanning over 3.4 million acres, Death Valley National Park stands as the largest national park in the contiguous United States, second only to those in Alaska. Its vast expanse offers visitors nearly 1000 miles of paved and dirt roads, providing access to both popular attractions and remote areas. Remarkably, despite its size, a staggering 93% of the park is designated as protected wilderness, ensuring the preservation of its natural beauty and ecological integrity.

Diverse Terrain

Within this wilderness, Death Valley’s landscape is characterized by a diverse range of geographical features. From the low valley floors adorned with barren salt flats to the towering mountains that soar up to 11,000 feet, the terrain is both rugged and captivating. Deep, winding canyons carve through the land, offering glimpses into the park’s geological history, while rolling sand dunes shift and change with the desert winds. Amidst this varied terrain, spring-fed oases provide vital sustenance for the park’s flora and fauna, serving as vital oases in an otherwise harsh environment.

Planning Your Visit

Whether you have a single day or a full week to explore Death Valley, careful planning is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. With such a vast and diverse landscape to discover, taking the time to research and prepare for your visit will help you make the most of your time in this unique and awe-inspiring national park. From selecting the right trails to packing essential supplies, thoughtful planning will allow you to immerse yourself fully in the beauty and wonder of Death Valley while ensuring your safety and well-being throughout your journey.

Access Routes

The main artery traversing Death Valley National Park, running from east to west, is California Highway 190. To the east, in Nevada, U.S. Route 95 runs parallel to the park from north to south, with connecting highways at Scotty’s Junction (State Route 267), Beatty (State Route 374), and Lathrop Wells (State Route 373). These routes provide access to various points of interest within the park, facilitating travel for visitors exploring its vast expanse.

Communication Infrastructure

Cellphone reception within the park is limited, posing a challenge for visitors dependent on mobile devices for communication. While guests with certain major carriers may encounter service, albeit slow and restricted, in areas such as Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, comprehensive coverage is not guaranteed.

Moreover, visitors may need to adjust their phone settings to enable roaming, as the cellphone towers within the park are operated by third-party providers. Notably, WiFi connectivity is unavailable at any National Park Service (NPS) facility. However, visitors can access WiFi services at The Oasis at Death Valley, a private resort located in Furnace Creek, and enjoy limited free WiFi at the Death Valley Lodging Company in Stovepipe Wells.

Weather Patterns

The climatic conditions in Death Valley vary significantly throughout the year, influencing the timing and nature of visitors’ experiences. Autumn typically arrives in late October, bringing warm yet pleasant temperatures and generally clear skies. As winter sets in, visitors can expect cool days, chilly nights, and occasional rainstorms, with snow adorning the high peaks, creating a picturesque backdrop for exploration.

Spring emerges as the most popular time to visit Death Valley, characterized by warm, sunny days and the potential spectacle of spring wildflowers blooming across the desert landscape. Conversely, summer arrives early in Death Valley, with temperatures soaring to extreme levels by May, rendering the valley inhospitable to most visitors due to the oppressive heat.

Indoor Activities in Death Valley National Park:

  1. Furnace Creek Visitor Center:

    • Hours: 8 am to 5 pm
    • Speak with park rangers to gather information and ask questions.
    • Pay park fees and purchase national park passes.
    • View displays on Death Valley tourism. Additional displays are available in the background.
    • Watch the park movie (20 minutes in length).
    • Explore the bookstore offering light snacks, sandwiches, and water for purchase.
    • Become a Junior Ranger by completing activities in the booklet and earning a badge.
    • ADA-assisted listening and audio description devices are available for the park movie and visitor center displays.
  2. Great Hall of Scotty’s Castle:

    • Scotty’s Castle is an elaborate, Spanish-style mansion built in the 1920s and ’30s.
    • Take a ranger-guided tour of the castle interior or explore the system of underground tunnels.
    • Visit the museum and bookstore located in the Scotty’s Castle Visitor Center.
    • Snacks, sandwiches, and drinks are available for purchase at the visitor center.
    • Hours: Closed until further notice.

Outdoor Activities in Death Valley National Park:

  1. Sightseeing:

    • Explore the park’s famous attractions and viewpoints by car.
  2. Hiking:

    • Discover deep canyons, salt flats, sand dunes, and desert peaks on foot.
  3. Camping:

    • Experience the wilderness by camping at various campgrounds, ranging from primitive to full hook-up.
  4. Backcountry Roads:

    • Drive along the park’s backcountry roads, offering different levels of challenge and scenic beauty.
  5. Backpacking:

    • Embark on cross-country adventures for a true wilderness experience.
  6. Road and Mountain Biking:

    • Enjoy mountain biking on hundreds of miles of dirt roads, or cycle along paved roads with narrow shoulders.
  7. Night Sky Viewing:

    • Learn about Death Valley’s excellent opportunities for stargazing and night sky viewing.
  8. Star Wars Auto Tour:

    • Discover locations within the park where Star Wars was filmed and how to visit them.
  9. Sunrise and Sunset Spots:

    • Find the best locations to witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in the park.
  10. Running/Trailrunning:

    • Challenge yourself with trail runs in the park’s rugged terrain.
  11. Nearby Attractions:

    • Explore nearby attractions such as Manzanar National Historic Site, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, and Rhyolite Ghost Town.
  12. Pets in the Park:

    • Discover where you can take your pets during your visit to the park.

Traveling by Car:

  • Main Routes:

    • California Highway 190 traverses the park from east to west.
    • U.S. Route 95 parallels the park from north to south on the east side.
  • Access from Nevada:

    • Route 95 offers access from north to south, with connecting highways at Scotty’s Junction, Beatty, and Lathrop Wells.
    • The most direct route from Las Vegas is via Pahrump, NV, and California Highway 190.
  • Access from California:

    • State Route 14 and U.S. Route 395 lead to Ridgecrest, CA, where State Route 178 heads east into the park.
    • Further north, Hwy 395 connects to Hwy 190 at Olancha or Lone Pine.
  • Access from Interstate 15:

    • Interstate 15 passes through Baker, California, providing access to the park via State Route 127 and State Route 178.

Ensure to check road conditions and closures before planning your trip.

Camping in Death Valley National Park:


  • Limited Campgrounds: Due to high temperatures, only a few campgrounds are open during the summer months. Midnight temperatures can still exceed 100°F, making sleeping conditions unfavorable.

  • Busy Holidays: Campgrounds may be very busy during holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. However, it’s challenging to predict if campgrounds will be full or not.

  • Available Campgrounds: Furnace Creek Campground is often the preferred choice for visitors during the summer, while higher elevation campgrounds may also fill up on busy weekends.

  • First-Come, First-Serve: All open campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-serve basis and are not staffed. Visitors need to travel to the campground to find an empty spot and pay the campground fee using the automated self-help kiosk with a credit or debit card.


  • Reservation Option: Furnace Creek Campground accepts reservations and may fill up during the busy season. However, spots are often available at Sunset Campground or Stovepipe Wells Campground, as they rarely fill up.

  • First-Come, First-Serve: Except for Furnace Creek Campground, all other campgrounds remain first-come, first-serve. Getting there early in the morning is not always necessary to secure a spot.

  • Flexible Arrival: Visitors can arrive at any time as payment is made at the campground using an automated machine (credit or debit card required).

Ensure to plan your camping trip accordingly, considering the weather conditions and campground availability based on the season.

Death Valley National Park

Utilizing GPS Navigation in Death Valley:

  • Reliability Concerns: GPS navigation to remote areas like Death Valley can be unreliable, often leading travelers to incorrect locations, dead-end roads, or closed routes. It’s advisable to always carry up-to-date road maps to verify the accuracy of GPS directions.

  • Do Not Solely Depend on GPS: It’s crucial not to rely solely on your vehicle’s GPS navigation system for navigation in Death Valley.

  • Visitor Center Address: While there’s no specific street address for the park or the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, many GPS users have found success using the address of the Death Valley Post Office, located approximately 400 meters south of the visitor center:

    • Address: 328 Greenland Blvd., Death Valley, CA 92328
    • Map Coordinates for Visitor Center: N 36°27.70, W 116°52.00

By Private Airplane:

  • Airport Options: There’s a small public airport at Furnace Creek, but fuel is not available there. Additionally, there’s a hard-paved strip at Stovepipe Wells, but again, no fuel is available. It’s recommended to refer to airport information manuals for further details.

Public Transportation:

  • Currently, there’s no public transportation available to Death Valley National Park.

Traveling Safely:

  • Road Conditions: Many of Death Valley’s roads were constructed in the 1930s, are narrow, and have winding routes, making them unsuitable for high-speed driving. The most significant danger in Death Valley is not the heat but single-vehicle rollovers.

  • Limited Cell Phone Coverage: Cell phones do not work reliably in Death Valley. While there might be spotty reception in some areas, relying on them in emergencies can be risky.

Backcountry Travel:

  • Vehicle Requirements: Traveling on the park’s extensive backcountry roads requires the proper type of vehicle for the road conditions, a well-maintained vehicle with all necessary tools and spare parts, and some knowledge of driving on rough dirt, gravel, and 4-wheel drive roads.

  • Summer Travel Considerations: Backcountry travel during the summer months (April to mid-October) can be dangerous and requires ample water, supplies stored in the vehicle, and knowledge of surviving in desert summer conditions in case of a vehicle breakdown.

Restaurants in Death Valley:

Furnace Creek:

  • The Oasis at Death Valley:
    • The Inn Restaurant:
      • Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
      • Lunch: 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
      • Dinner: 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. (Reservations Recommended)
    • The Ranch at Death Valley:
      • Date Grove Diner:
        • Breakfast: 6:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
        • Lunch / Dinner: 11:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
      • Date Grove Bar: 11:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
      • General Store & Golf Pro Shop: 7:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
  • Timbisha Shoshone Village:
    • Indian Tacos and Shaved Ice: A small lunch and early dinner dining option in the Furnace Creek area.
    • Furnace Creek Visitor Center/Death Valley Natural History Association Bookstore: Grab-and-go sandwiches and drinks: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Stovepipe Wells:

  • Stovepipe Wells Village:
    • Toll Road Restaurant:
      • Breakfast: 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
      • Dinner: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
    • Badwater Saloon: Drinks and appetizers are served in the afternoon and evening.
    • General Store: ATM, groceries, ice, camping supplies, gifts, and firewood: 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily

Panamint Springs:

  • Panamint Springs Resort:
    • Dining & Bar: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served year-round. Patio seating is available.
    • General Store: ATM, snacks, firewood, camping supplies, and gifts: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Lodging Inside the Park:

Stovepipe Wells Village

  • Located: Stovepipe Wells
  • Open all Year
  • The Stovepipe Wells Village concession offers resort accommodations and limited recreational vehicle camping with full hookups in the Stovepipe Wells area. Call 760-786-7090 or visit the website for information and reservations.

The Oasis at Death Valley

  • Located: Furnace Creek
  • Open All Year
    • The Inn at Death Valley:
      • The privately owned historic inn provides first-class resort accommodations in the Furnace Creek area. Call 1-800-236-7916 or visit the website for information and reservations.
    • The Ranch at Death Valley:
      • Open All Year (undergoing extensive remodeling)
      • This private motel provides accommodations in the Furnace Creek area. Call 1-800-236-7916 or visit the website for information and reservations.

Panamint Springs Resort

  • Located: Panamint Springs
  • Open All Year
  • The private Panamint Springs Resort offers resort accommodations and camping. Call 775-482-7680, or visit the website for information.

Lodging Outside the Park:

To the East of the Park:

  • Beatty, Nevada: Beatty Chamber of Commerce (approximately a 45-minute drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)
  • Pahrump, Nevada: Visit Pahrump (approximately a 1.5-hour drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)
  • Shoshone, California, and the surrounding area: Death Valley Chamber of Commerce (distance varies by location; Shoshone is approximately a 1-hour drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (approximately a 2.5-hour drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)
  • Nevada, general: Travel Nevada – State of Nevada Information (distance varies by location)

To the West of the Park:

  • Lone Pine, California: Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce (approximately a 1 hour 45-minute drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)
  • Ridgecrest, California: Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (approximately a 2.5-hour drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)
  • Bishop, California: Visit Bishop (approximately a 3.5 hour drive from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center)

Security Tips:

Heat Kills:

  • Drink plenty of water: Consume at least one gallon (four liters) of water per day to replace loss from sweat, more if you’re active. Be mindful of balancing fluid and electrolyte levels.
  • Avoid hiking in the heat: Refrain from hiking in low elevations when temperatures are high. Mountains are cooler in summer but may have snow and ice in winter.
  • Travel prepared to survive: Stick to paved roads in the summer. If your vehicle breaks down, stay with it until help arrives. Carry extra drinking water in your vehicle in case of emergencies.
  • Watch for signs of trouble: If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or experience headaches, get out of the sun immediately and drink water or sports drinks. Dampen clothing to lower body temperature. Stay alert for symptoms in others.

Driving Safety:

  • The main cause of death in Death Valley: More people die in single-car accidents than by other means.
  • To avoid accidents, adhere to speed limits, shift to lower gear on steep downhill grades, and always wear your seatbelt.

Beware of Dangerous Animals:

  • Never place your hands or feet where you cannot see first. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, or black widow spiders may be sheltered there.
  • Hantavirus, a potentially deadly respiratory disease, is spread by contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. Though no cases have been reported in Death Valley, the virus has been found in deer mice and cactus mice. Exercise caution in rodent-infested areas such as cabins and mine buildings.

Flash Floods:

  • Avoid canyons during rainstorms and be prepared to move to higher ground. While driving, be alert for water running in washes and across road dips.

Mine Hazards:

Backcountry Adventure:

  • Hikers, backpackers, and four-wheelers should be self-sustaining and well-prepared. Always plan, carry detailed maps, and inform someone of your plans. Backpackers should obtain a free backcountry permit from any visitor center.

Illegal Marijuana Cultivation Sites:

  • Illegal marijuana cultivation sites have been found in remote backcountry areas of Death Valley National Park. Learn to recognize and avoid these potentially dangerous areas. If you encounter signs of cultivation:
    • Leave immediately; do not linger to take photos or coordinates.
    • Retreat the way you came; you’ve already determined that the route is safe.
    • Make as little noise as possible; if the garden is occupied, they may not be aware of you.
    • Reach a safe location by running, walking, crawling, or hiding. Just ensure your safety.
    • Notify FICC Dispatch at (760) 786-2330, (909) 383-5651, or (888) 233-6518.
    • Be prepared to provide your exact location. Coordinates are helpful, but a physical description will suffice.
    • Reach your vehicle if possible; if you can drive away, do so.

In Case of Emergency:

  • Dial 911 from any phone or cell phone. Note that cell phones may not work in many parts of the park. Do not rely on them.


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