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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

Death Valley National Park

Updated: May 20

Zabrinski Point at sunrise with a cloudy blue sky and sun on the mountains in the distance.
Zabrinski Point

Death Valley NP Guide Death Valley Hiking Guide

Death Valley is a desert valley located in eastern California. It is one of the hottest and driest places in North America, with temperatures that can reach up to 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) and average annual precipitation of less than 2 inches (5 cm). The valley is known for its barren, rugged landscape and varied terrain, which includes sand dunes, salt flats, rocky mountains, and canyons.

This was our 1 and only trip to Death Valley National Park. I don’t know why it took us so long to make it here or why we haven’t been back since because it is close and there is a lot to do there. It took 6 hours to get to the Stovepipe Wells campground from our home. We had a full hook-up site and we stayed here for 4 days. There are 14 full hook-up sites that are reservable and a large open area with 190 first-come first-served sites that are primitive.

Stovepipe Wells got its name when in 1907 a dirt road was built between the 2 mining towns of Rhyolite in Nevada and Skidoo in Calif. The well was the only water source on the road and it kept getting covered with sand so they stuck a stovepipe in it so they could find it. Today it is a Calif. Historical Marker.

For a one-day trip itinerary to Death Valley National Park click here

This is a photo of a stove pipe sticking out of a rocky well at death Valley national Park
The monument at Stove Pipe Wells in Death Valley NP

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes are waiting for you! For those seeking a bit of adventure, make sure to check out the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. They are easy to find as they are not too far from the junction of 190 and Scotties Castle Road. Stretching for miles, the dunes offer endless opportunities for exploration and photo ops. With their ripples and sand-sculpted dunes, they are very photogenic. There are bigger dunes in Death Valley, but these are the easiest to get to. Mesquite Flat Dunes are 1 of the 2 dunes that allow sandboarding. Just be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen.

Since we were camped near there we stopped a couple of times and the sunset and sunrise were fantastic.

Zabriskie Point is a scenic overlook located in Death Valley National Park, California. It is one of the park's most popular and iconic landmarks, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscapes.

The viewpoint is situated at the eastern end of Death Valley, just a short distance from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. The area is named after Christian Zabriskie, a Borax company executive who helped develop the Harmony Borax Works in the 1880s. Zabriskie Point is particularly popular at sunrise and sunset when the light transforms the landscape into a canvas of vibrant colors. The rich hues of red, orange, and purple create a stunning contrast against the deep blue sky, making for a truly unforgettable experience. We were here for 2 sunrises and it was spectacular.

Badwater Basin is a remarkable geological feature situated in Death Valley National Park, California, United States. It is the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level, and is one of the most popular attractions in the park.

It was an uneasy 2 mile walk out into the basin and once out there we were by ourselves.

The basin is a vast expanse of salt flats, covering an area of about 200 square miles. The formation of the basin began millions of years ago when the area was covered by a shallow sea. As the sea dried up, it left behind a thick layer of salt and other minerals that have been sculpted over time by wind and water into the unique landscape we see today.

One of the most striking features of the Badwater Basin is the polygonal patterns that cover the salt flats. These hexagonal shapes are caused by the repeated cycles of flooding and drying that occur in the basin. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind a thin layer of salt that crystallizes into these fascinating patterns.

On the way back we drove Artists Dr. It is a loop drive with some interesting formations and Artist’s Palette, a colorful location.

Colorful turquoise and green rock formations at artist palette in death Valley national Park
Artists Palette on Artists Drive loop in Death Valley NP

We stopped at the Golden Canyon Trailhead and hiked out to Red Cathedral.

A walk at the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail was interesting. It is a boardwalk along Salt Creek and home to some rear pupfish.

We explored Emigrant Canyon Road to Ageureberry Point Road and ended up at the Eureka Mine a.k.a. “Pete and Shorty’s”. It was founded by Pete Ageureberry and Shorty Harris and was worked mainly by Pete from 1905 to when he died in 1945.

Some friends, who spend a lot of time in Death Valley, warned me about the sharp rocks on the dirt roads. They said they always take 2 spare tires if they are going to be driving on the dirt a lot. Well, I got a flat driving on the Emigrant Canyon Road so maybe next time I'll heed their advice.

For a one-day trip itinerary to Death Valley National Park click here


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