The iconic image of stark, burning salt flats in Death Valley is enticing you to visit the largest national park in the lower 48. This guide will show you how to make the most of it all!
Although some say that one day is sufficient to take everything in, vanlife adventurers with the time, sense of adventure, and love for the desert will love this unique and desolate place.
Death Valley's 3.4-million-acre tract of land stretches across the southeastern border of California and the adjacent edge of Nevada.
Pick up your camper van from VegasCampers.com and drive 2.5 hours to the park entrance. It's about 130 miles to the northwest, and with stops, you should plan on about three hours on the road. There aren't many amenities in the park, so fuel up in Indian Springs or Beatty before crossing the California border.
Check in with your reservation for your Furnace Creek Campground. If you did not book several months in advance, you have first come, first serve options at the other eight campgrounds in Death Valley.
Spots range from free to just over $20. Park your camper van, set up using our training videos, and relax in style as you prepare for for your adventure tomorrow!
On your first day in Death Valley National Park will feel like you've gone to another planet.
After leaving the campground, drive seven miles to the turnoff for the Mesquite Flat sand dunes for a relatively accessible two-mile hike. It's an awesome sand dune that will make you feel like you're in the middle of the Sahara desert... or on Mars. Bring more water than you think you'll need.
If you got an early start, do not miss the gorgeous oasis of Darwin Falls on route 190 near the border of the park (you could alternatively hit this stop on your way out if you're continuing West)
A personal favorite of mine is the devil's golf course, where massive chunks of salt cover the earth for as far as the eye can see.
Wake up early for a big day ahead of visual delights!
Photographers... trust me on this one, it's worth waking up early for...
Begin the day with a five-mile drive to Zabriskie point to watch the sunrise paint the Badlands and mountains with glorious color. Continue south for more than half an hour to reach the road up Dante's Peak. This is not the terrible 90's movie. Instead, this 5000+ high, main vantage point of Death Valley that gives you an excellent view of the landscape. It was also used in the original Star Wars movies.
Head back to the campground and continue driving Northwest to explore more history and nature in the area. Sink into days long gone at the Harmony Borax Works ghost town, explore the Salt Creek trail, and consider a ten-mile drive to the Keane Wonder Mill and Mine.
The last day of your Death Valley adventure is a great time to see the most iconic spots in the park.
Head south through the Golden Canyon until you reach the Badwater Basin, which is the lowest elevation in the United States. A one-mile hike through the salt flats is a must. Take the nine-mile Artists' Drive loop and stop at the Artists' Palette experience the unique coloration of the landscape. This represents a wonderful final view of the majesty that is Death Valley.
"Scotty's Castle" is a cool stop if you're heading north.
Hot Springs - Alkali Hot springs is bizarre and amazing. I soaked next to a herd of wild horses here. Here is how you can find it and others.
Stargazing in Death Valley can be world-class.
VegasCampers has a small fleet of fully stocked camper vans ready for your next adventure to Zion National Park and other popular destinations. Reserve your van today.
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