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Top 8 Things to Do in Death Valley National Park

When it comes to nature’s grandeur, Death Valley National Park has few rivals. It is a harsh land of mind-blowing landscapes that calls every adventurer’s name and offers an endless set of unique places to see and experience. Shared by California and Nevada, the top-rated national park is the lowest place in Northern America and a 3,000 square miles behemoth of an attraction to visit. From singing sands on top of the dunes to crater-like salt formations, from the mysteries of the moving rocks to the cinematic colored mountains, this national park is an epitome of outdoor adventure. And we’ve decided to gather all the top things to do in Death Valley for an unforgettable visit.

Sunset Watching and Stargazing After Dark Sunset watching and stargazing after dark
Credit: Sunset watching and stargazing after dark by Mark Nemenzo via Unsplash.com

Sunset Watching and Stargazing After Dark

What Is It? The roundtrip tour from Las Vegas takes you on an exciting journey to the top attractions of Death Valley such as Dante’s View, Zabriskie Point, and Artist’s Palette. The food is included and you’ve got a chance to see the stars at one of the least light-polluted places on Earth. It’s a great activity to choose if you’d like to visit the must-sees of Death Valley from Vegas in a short span of time. 

Why Do It? Coming to the Death Valley National Park when the sun goes down is truly a bucket list thing to do. The spectacle of light above the barren terrain is a sight to behold. And your jaw is guaranteed to drop when the night falls and the incredible spectacle of the starry sky unfolds above. 

Good to Know: The tour is an ideal pick for those who’d like to get the most out of the national park without trekking. You go everywhere on a tour bus and the guide shows you the best photo spots. 

Camp in the desert  Camp in the desert
Credit: Camp in the desert by Yuriy Rzhemovskiy via Unsplash.com

Camp in the desert

What Is It? The gentle wind is blowing, the crimson sunset slowly gives way to the starry sky and the phantasmagoric rocky landscapes around go dark. It’s just you and the tent here, an ultimate meeting with nature. Death Valley has plenty of camping opportunities and it’s something every traveler should do at least once in a lifetime.

Why Do It? The experience of spending a night in the desert is a magical one. That’s something captivating, a total escape from civilization and a full embrace of the wilderness. And then, falling asleep to the magnificent vista of clearly visible stars above is nothing short of spectacular. 

Good to Know: You have a good variety of campgrounds in Death Valley with 9 public and 3 private ones. Reserve your spot beforehand and always check the weather conditions. This national park is a place of extremes and it is extremely important to come prepared to have a smooth time here. 

Stay in Style at The Inn Stay in style at The Inn
Credit: Stay in style at The Inn by oasisatdeathvalley.com

Stay in Style at The Inn

What Is It? Although the remote Death Valley is not a place where you find lots of lodgings, there’s one that stands out. The Inn is this national park’s icon, a postcard-perfect hotel with Spanish Revival looks from the 20s offering an oasis of luxury in the middle of one of the hottest spots in the world.  

Why Do It? Staying right inside the national park gives you fantastic exploration possibilities as well as a perfect base to reach all the must-sees of the park. And then there are extra-photogenic interiors of the hotel itself. Stunning Death Valley sunrises and sunsets are also among the perks of staying at The Inn. 

Good to Know: There is an on-site restaurant as well as an outdoor pool on the premises of the hotel. You will also have a beautiful park with ponds for long walks and nature gazing. 

Go Backcountry on a Jeep Go backcountry on a jeep
Credit: Go backcountry on a jeep by TuendeBede via Pixabay.com

Go Backcountry on a Jeep

What Is It? Sure, the designated tourist areas and most popular paved roads are scenic and good in their own right. But how about going really wild? Thousands of miles of the backcountry roads make it possible. You can rent a suitable jeep at Farabee’s at Furnace Creek and start a thrilling adventure getting to know Death Valley’s more isolated and impressive side. 

Why Do It? This activity is for those who appreciate challenging tourism. To go backcountry in Death Valley takes some preparation. Instead of GPS, you’ll use the ordinary map. There’s no phone signal and the conditions are quite hard. But the reward is definitely worth it, a chance to touch the pure wilderness being one on one with the desert. 

Good to Know: Backcountry exploration is a responsible affair. Out in the open, you’ll be on your own, so before going be sure to know the route, have a water and food stock, and thoroughly examine all the recommendations from authorities. And never underestimate the dangers of Death Valley heat, check out the weather conditions. 

Find your Perfect Hike Find your perfect hike
Credit: Find your perfect hike by Yuval Levy via Unsplash.com

Find your Perfect Hike

What Is It? Death Valley is a paradise for hikers. Get your walking shoes on and step on the numerous trails across the desert, inside the canyons, atop the sand dunes, and between the ridges. The expanse is yours to conquer. 

Why Do It? Not only hiking in the desert is an ultimate physical activity to choose for healthy outdoors, but it’s also a good way to switch, contemplate and completely rewind surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes. 

Good to Know: National Park Service has a definitive list of hikes of different difficulties, so use it to find the perfect one for you. 

Hunt for Star Wars Locations Hunt for Star Wars locations
Credit: Hunt for Star Wars locations by Martin Reisch via Unsplash.com

Hunt for Star Wars Locations

What Is It? The galaxy far away is not that far after all. The fans of George Lucas’s sci-fi phenomenon would feel at home in Death Valley where many scenes from Star Wars movies were filmed. Such spots as Artist’s Palette, Golden Canyon, Black Mountains, and Desolation Canyon stood for the landscapes of Tatooine and were a backdrop for many action scenes in the “New Hope” and “Return of the Jedi” movies from the Star Wars franchise. 

Why Do It? If you’re a fan of Star Wars there’s nothing better than seeing the locations from your favorite movies in real life. Combining it with a Death Valley visit on a family trip is an even better deal. 

Good to Know: As locales are quite dispersed around the vast Death Valley make a plan beforehand to be able to comfortably see them all. Make it as relaxing as possible and don’t try to run through everything in one day, Death Valley is for savoring not for a hurry. 

Visit Historic Monuments Visit historic monuments
Credit: Visit historic monuments by Brigitte Werner via Pixabay.com

Visit Historic Monuments

What Is It? Death Valley is not only a desolate landscape, you can find some fascinating historic sites here that are worth a visit. During the California Gold Rush in the 19th century, there were attempts to mine the borax to capitalize on the resources the desert possesses. Although these ventures largely failed due to the economic hardships and unfavorable work conditions (Death Valley got its name for a reason), you can see how mining was done at such spots as Harmony Borax Works and Wildrose Charcoal Kilns. 

Why Do It? Not only do you get an interesting historic perspective on how things worked here during the Gold Rush, but those places are also set against stunning desert panoramas so visiting them is an essential experience. 

Good to Know: Rangers of the national park regularly organize informative hikes and guided tours to the main historic sites of Death Valley so check the schedule on the National Park Service website and join one of these activities for a full picture. 

Discover the Greener Side Death Valley National Park
Credit: Death Valley National Park by bigstock.com

Discover the Greener Side

What Is It?  Death Valley is not only the rocks and the sands. With 80 feet of height, Darwin Falls is the highest waterfall in the national park and a charming canyon hike. Then every year there is a high chance of witnessing the spectacular superbloom at the higher elevations of the park such as Wildrose and Hunter Mountain. 

Why Do It?  The sight of blooming flowers in the middle of the desert is an incredible one. And if you are able to catch the legendary superbloom, that’s something you will remember forever. 

Good to Know: Early spring would be the best thing to come to see the flowers in bloom. The National Park Service has a special page tracking the blooming around the Death Valley that is helpful for planning a perfect trip to the park. 

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