In April, Taylor and I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Death Valley National Park. We were skeptical about going to Death Valley due to the excessive heat, but we decided to go anyway. We figured we’ll never know unless we go!
Conclusion: Death Valley National Park is AWESOME! Perfect for a quick one or two-night little getaway.
Fees: $25 Per Vehicle, unless you have the National Park Annual Pass!
Campground: We stayed at the Texas Springs Campground right outside of Furnace Creek. It costs $16 per night.
Death Valley in its entirety is like no other national park we have been to, but don’t expect lush and green landscape!
Our first stop in Death Valley was Dante’s View. What you will see at Dante’s Point is beautiful unique views of mountains and the dirt valley below. It may not sound that cool but believe me, it’s amazing!
Twenty Mule Team Canyon
Twenty Mule Team Canyon is a 2.8-mile one-way dirt trail right off the main road in Death Valley not far from Dante’s View. This secluded trail has picturesque views of Death Valley’s landscape. We would definitely recommend 4-wheel drive and high elevation, our Jeep was perfect for it!
Zabriskie’s point is a must see! The best time to visit this spot is for sunrise or sunset because the sun reflects off the unique rock formations and creates the most exquisite views, but expect a crowd. This is about 20 minutes from Dante’s View.
Where to grab a bite to eat in Furnace Creek…
Even though we camped at Texas Springs Campground, we still wanted to see what Furnace Creek had to offer. We were pleasantly surprised to find several restaurants and saloons. We stopped at Corkscrew Saloon for a quick bite and then headed back to our campsite for some barbecue and beers around the campfire.
Stargazing at Texas Springs Campground
Death Valley is in the middle of nowhere so stargazing is a must. The stars are unbelievable and it becomes so peaceful and quiet at night. Below are some stargazing pictures at the campground.
Badwater Basin – Lowest Elevation in North America
Badwater Basin is the lowest elevation in North America at -282 feet below sea level. It is 15 miles from Furnace Creek down Badwater Road. Badwater Basin is made up of “salt flats” that is like nothing we have ever seen before. The white “salt flats” are too harsh for plants or animals making Badwater Basin completely deserted. We suggest checking this out during the early morning or evening hours since it is wide open and gets hot fast!
Heading back north from Badwater Basin towards Furnace Creek you will come to the Natural Bridge. From the parking lot, it is a relatively short hike to get to the Natural Bridge and totally worth it. If you’re feeling adventurous you can do some rock climbing on it, notice ME in the left side of the photo!
Devil’s Golf Course
Devil’s Golf Course is another must see location. This location consists of lumpy salt formations that are the remains of Death Valleys last lake, Lake Manly. Here you can walk out onto the salt pan to get a closer look at the salt crystals.
Artists Drive and Artists Palette
If you continuing toward Furnace Creek you will come to Artists Drive and Artists Palette. This is another one-way (paved) road that will lead you to Artists Palette where you can see the multi-colored mountains like the ones pictured below.
Golden Canyon Trail and Red Cathedral
Golden Canyon Trail is a good hike that is a 3-mile loop or you can veer off and head towards Zabriske’s Point (mentioned above). You can take a different trail to find the Red Cathedral. We scored one of our favorite pictures from the trip on this hike, which was on our way to see Red Cathedral. We turned around and saw a beautiful view of Badwater Basin with no other human in site.
Oh and before I forget, scenes from the original Star Wars series were filmed on this trail!
Salt Creek Trail
Heading north on Rt 190 passed Furnace Creek on our way to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes we decided to stop at Salt Creek Trail. On this trail, you will find one of the only sources of water in Death Valley. It is home to tiny little Salt Creek Pupfish you can see swimming and feeding up and down the creek.
Mesquite Sand Dunes
Death Valley has more diverse terrain than we expected. One minute you’re in the mountains, then in a salt crystal field at Devils Golf Course, then you can be on top of a sand dune.
Mesquite Sand Dunes is north of Furnace Creek on Rt 190 heading towards Panamint Springs Resort. Here you can act like your at the beach, it’s five o’clock somewhere.
To top off the trip, we saw a wild coyote!