Venue: Death valley national park
Duration: 1 or 2 days
Best time to visit: October to April
Visitor Center: Furnace Creek
Accommodation: Few hotels/motels inside. We stayed in Las Vegas, NV
Entrance fees: $30
Death Valley national park is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the US. It covers an area of 3.4 million acres! Despite that, you can cover the national park in a day (if you utilize the daylight well). It is barren, bold, and beautiful. It is hostile and diverse. We had only one day to spend here, so we kept away from all hikes. Please make sure you wear sunblock (for summers), have enough warm clothes (for winters), your car has enough juice to survive the day, and carry enough food for yourself. Death Valley is one of the not-so commercialized national parks. There are hardly any restaurants and gas stations inside. If you are traveling from Las Vegas, the last stop to fill in gas is Pahrump. We picked up food in Las Vegas. The route we took is as indicated in the map below.
Dante’s view: This point offers a premier outlook of the national park. It is at 5476 ft. above sea level. It gives splendid views of the Badwater basin that is 282 ft. below sea level.
20 Mule team canyon: We did not know what to expect here. It is a beautiful drive surrounded by white mudstone hills. This one-way road starts fairly wide and narrows towards the end of the canyon before joining the highway. Statutory warning: The road gets curvy later.
Zabriskie Point: This is a good sunrise point. It offers a stunning overlook of the badlands full of canyons in all directions. It is a must-visit point.
Furnace Creek Visitor Center: This is the main visitor center. It has campsites, drinking water, restrooms, and a gas station.
Artist’s palette: There are multiple attractions en route to the Badwater Basin. The hills at Artist’s palette are green, pink, and yellow due to the presence of mica, manganese and iron salts, etc. We were losing daylight, so we drove straight to the Badwater Basin.
Devil’s golf course: The valley floor surface is jagged and uneven, unlike the Badwater basin. This quick stop is necessary.
Natural bridge: This 2-mile round-trip takes you to a natural bridge (1 hour). We skipped it.
Badwater Basin: The valley floor is a salt pan and the lowest point in the US at 282 ft. below sea level. It was our sunset point for the day. The feeling was surreal. You can walk as much as you want in the basin and come back.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: This was our stargazing spot.
6 PM: It felt like 9 PM. We got a good and clear view of the stars and the milky way. We spent an hour talking about the stars, the milky way, and ancient aliens.
7 PM: An animal ran across. We stood up. I turned on my flashlight and directed it to the animal. It was out of the reach of the light but stared right back at us. We decided to leave. We continued our conversation in the parking lot during dinner. Suddenly the car behind ours turned on the headlights and moved. We could see a set of the prying eyes around the vehicle. They left the spot.
On further research, we realized that we had been surrounded by a pack of kit foxes all this while! It was our first rendezvous with wildlife from up close. We left immediately.
I recommend you spend at least two days here and stay at a hotel inside the national park if possible. One can only imagine the sunrises and sunsets here. A few captured moments below.
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