Desert | California

Death Valley National Park

Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals unique to the harshest desert.

The silent and barren beauty of Death Valley can be unexpected and startling. Furnace Creek offers recreation, restaurants, lodging, a general store, and the Borax Museum (of 20-Mule Team fame). View an unforgettable sunrise and panorama at nearby Zabriskie Point. Cruise Artist's Palette Drive, with its colorfully streaked rock and mineral formations. Farther north, tour Scotty's Castle, built in the 1920s. This jewel of Spanish-Moorish architecture appears like a mirage on the sparse landscape.

Scotty's Castle
Death Valley Scotty told everyone that he built this castle in northern Death Valley with money from his "secret" gold mine. That was not quite the truth. A Chicago millionaire and his wife built their "Death Valley Ranch" in the cool of Grapevine Canyon and they let their friend Scotty live there as a guest. 

What is the Best Season to visit?
Death Valley National Park is usually considered a winter park, but it is possible to visit here all year. When is the best time to visit? It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Autumn arrives in late October, with warm but pleasant temperatures and generally clear skies. The camping season begins in fall and so do the Ranger Programs, which continue through spring. Although it is relatively uncrowded at this time of year, the weeks leading up to Death Valley ‘49ers Encampment (second week in November) and the Thanksgiving holiday are busy.

Winter has cool days, chilly nights and rarely, rainstorms. With snow capping the high peaks and low angled winter light, this season is especially beautiful for exploring the valley. The period after Thanksgiving and before Christmas is the least crowded time of the entire year. Peak winter visitation periods include Christmas to New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day weekend in January, and Presidents’ Day weekend in February. Reservations will be helpful.

Springtime is the most popular time to visit Death Valley. Besides warm and sunny days, the possibility of spring wildflowers is a big attraction. If the previous winter brought rain, the desert can put on an impressive floral display, usually peaking in late March to early April. Check our website for wildflower updates. Spring break for schools throughout the west brings families and students to the park from the last week of March through the week after Easter. Campgrounds and lodging are usually packed at that time, so reservations are recommended.

Summer starts early in Death Valley. By May the valley is too hot for most visitors, yet throughout the hottest months, visitors from around the world still flock to the park. Lodging and camping are available, but only the most hardy will want to camp in the low elevations in the summer. Most summer visitors tour by car to the main points of interest along the paved roads but do little else due to the extreme heat. Those wanting to hike will find the trails to Telescope and Wildrose Peaks are at their best in summer, but it is best to wait.

Directions: Death Valley National Park is transected from east to west by California Highway 190. On the east in Nevada, U.S. Route 95 parallels 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). South of the park, Interstate 15 passes through Baker, California on its way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. State Route 127 travels north from Baker to Shoshone and Death Valley Junction with connections to the park on State Route 178 from Shoshone and connection with California Highway 190 at Death Valley Junction.

Vehicle Entrance Fee:  $20 for 7 Days
This permit allows all persons traveling with the permit holder in one single private, non-commercial vehicle (car/truck/van) to leave and re-enter the park as many times as they wish during the 7-day period from the date of purchase.


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