The first thing to know about Death Valley is it is HUGE!!!!!!!
Arrive as early in the morning as you possibly can and give yourself more than enough time to explore. If you are coming in from Vegas for the day have a plan of what you want to see and what is within reach during the time you have available.
Parts of the park including the rolling rock area also known as the RaceTrack takes a couple of days and a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
Make sure and bring water with you or get some of that store in the park. Depending on the time of year you are visiting Death Valley can be stupid hot! Dangerous hot. During one of our visits a tourist, unfortunately, passed away on the dunes due to the heat.
Death Valley National Park Travel Tips
Cell phone coverage in the park is pretty non-existent. We did find wi-fi available at the visitor center to check emails.
Scotty’s Castle is closed and will remain closed until at least 2020. Please contact 760-786-3200 for more information.
Carry more water and sports drinks with you while hiking than you think you will need.
Pets and Bicycles are not allowed on trails or in the wilderness that covers 90% of the park.
Please do not feed the animals in the park. While we were in the park, we watched a coyote develop a limp as soon as a new car pulled into a parking lot. He limped to the car a few times until they fed him. Once they pulled away the limp was gone, and the coyote ran to another section of the parking lot. He truly worked the tourist over for food.
Don’t fall asleep too early and miss seeing the stars. Death Valley is an International Dark Sky Park! The park has worked to reduce light pollution to allow visitors to see the stars.
Give yourself more time than you think you may need to see the park. Many of the attractions are far away from the center of the park. Depending on the time of year you are visiting there may be traffic in the park.
If you are looking for roadrunners keep an eye out by the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. We had one walk up next to the car and I was able to take this pic.
I know this probably won’t come as a surprise but gas is expensive in the park.
There are multiple restaurants and a general store in the park. The pizza at the Corkscrew Saloon was ok, not great but definitely filling. They have some interesting themed cocktails for the park.
The grocery store has a wide variety of food and drinks available. There is also a gift shop attached.
Thinking about staying in Death Valley? Check out our review of The Inn at Furnace Creek. We really enjoyed staying at this historic national park lodge.
If you love to golf make sure and check out the Furnace Creek Golf Course located 214 feet below sea level. This is also a great area for bird watching.
Make sure and visit the visitor center for current park conditions. Parts of the park have been closed due to recent flooding that occurred in the park. The visitor center can let you know exactly which part of the parks is closed or undergoing rehabilitation.
We have found the best times to visit Death Valley is late fall to early spring. The weather is cooler and it is easier to get around.
Cell phone coverage in the park is pretty non-existent. We did find wi-fi available at the visitor center to check emails and Facebook.
While you are at the visitor center keep an eye out for the roadrunners!!!!
We were sitting checking our phones and the roadrunner sat right in front of our car just watching us. The photo above was taken with a cell phone!
The Desert Gold is the most common wildflower found on the valley floor.
Salt Creek Interpretive Trail is a great walk for the entire family. The entire trail has a boardwalk. The trail is 1/2 mile round trip. One thing to know is most of it is out in the open so bring water and a hat or sunglasses along with sunscreen. Keep an eye out for rare pupfish and other wildlife along the trail.
Artist’s Drive is a must-visit during any trip to Death Valley! We highly suggest visiting the drive a few times to see how the rocks look different depending on where the sun is.
The drive is a 9-mile paved route that includes multiple pull-offs for great photos. The road is one-way and open to vehicles less than 25 feet in length.
Harmony Borax Works is a quarter-mile walking trail that has educational signs teaching about the Harmony Borax operation. This is the area famous for the 20 mule teams that moved borax from Death Valley.
There is so much to see and do in Death Valley! You can easily visit this park multiple times and see something new each time. Death Valley is an International Dark Sky Park. If you have the opportunity try and stay overnight in the park so you can experience the stars unlike anywhere else in the world.
What does it cost to visit Death Valley National Park?
Vehicle Entrance Fee – $25 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.
Motorcycle Entrance Fee – $20 for 7 Days
Individual Entrance Fee – $12 for 7 Days
- This permit allows a single individual traveling on foot or bicycle to leave and re-enter the park as many times as they wish during the 7-day period from the date of purchase.
Death Valley Annual Pass – $50 for one year
- Annual pass providing free entrance to Death Valley for 12 months from the date of purchase
- Annual pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for national parks and other federal fee areas. This replaces the National Parks Pass and Golden Eagle Pass.
- 4th Graders can earn a free pass to all federal fee areas. Visit the website to earn the pass, print the voucher, and then redeem it for your pass when you visit your park.
- Annual pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for all active military personnel and their dependents. (For active duty military personnel and dependents with proper identification (CAC Card or DD Form 1173)
Access Pass – Free for lifetime
- Lifetime admission and discount pass for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Admits only one motorcycle.
Senior Pass – $80 for lifetime
- Lifetime admission and discount pass for US citizens or permanent residents who are age 62 or older. Admits only one motorcycle.
National Park Free Days in 2019
The National Park Service offers the following Entrance Fee Free Days this year:
- January 21: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 20: First day of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 28: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
What can you do in Death Valley National Park?
Furnace Creek Golf Course located 214 feet below sea level. This is also a great area for bird watching.
Check out Tammilee’s Post on the Top Things to do in Death Valley
Also, check out my post on Things to do in Death Valley and see what we differ on. LOL!
Can you camp in Death Valley National Park?
Campground fees vary with each campground. The campground page gives you the breakdown.
Reservations for the Furnace Creek Campground are available for the camping season of October 15 to April 15 by calling 1-877-444-6777 or visiting recreation.gov. Reservations must be made at least 4 days in advance, but can be made up to 6 months in advance.
Furnace Creek Campground has only 18 sites with full hookups.
Where is there to stay in Death Valley?
Check out our review of Furnace Creek Inn
Where are the Visitor Centers in Death Valley National Park?
Furnace Creek Visitor Center offers park information, wifi, exhibits, a park film, bookstore, ranger information, drinking water and restrooms. This is a great place to start your trip in Death Valley.
Phone (760) 786-3200
Location – The visitor center is located in the Furnace Creek resort area on California Highway 190. Furnace Creek is 30 miles from Death Valley Junction and 24 miles from Stovepipe Wells Village.
Scotty’s Castle Visitor Center – Currently closed due to flooding.
Is there a Junior Ranger Program in Death Valley National Park?
Pick up a free activity booklet at Furnace Creek Visitor Center, or print one off here:
Once you finish your booklet, bring it to Furnace Creek Visitor Center. A park ranger will check your booklet and you will receive your official badge.
Is there anyplace to eat in Death Valley National Park?
Check out the Death Valley Website to see which restaurants are open during your visit. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Furnace Creek Inn.
Furnace Creek Inn, the dress code is “desert casual” – shorts, tank tops, and t-shirts aren’t allowed.
Death Valley National Park Facts
Average yearly rainfall is 2.36 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Death Valley was named by California gold seekers who had to cross the desolate wasteland in order to reach the gold fields in 1849.
Many scenes in the original “Star Wars” trilogy were filmed in Death Valley
Badwater Basin is the lowest dry point in America, at 282 feet below sea level.
Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, covering 3.4 million acres of desert.
Additional Books and resources
Don’t forget to check out the other amazing National Parks in California!