California is home to some of the most jaw-dropping, immaculate parks and forests on the planet. The state is known for towering redwoods, epic valleys, and sprawling desserts like that of Death Valley National Park—nearly 3.5 million acres of vibrant rocks, ghost towns, and breathtaking canyons. If you’re going to explore this beautiful space, you best make an adventure of it. Here’s how to make the most out of Death Valley National Park.
This park is famous for extreme weather conditions. The extreme heat lasts through much of the year, which is why the recommend time to visit is during the winter months. Despite the weather, Death Valley is one of the most inhabited spots on earth, with oases that are filled with wildlife, fowl, and fish. During the winter, the Valley’s peaks are topped with snow, an extreme change from the heat. At nearly any time of the year you can pick out a prime camping spot or stay in one of the area’s surrounding resorts. Canyons, dunes, salt flats, and a variety of different kinds of terrain make up Death Valley. It’s also home to indigenous peoples and a series of ghost towns. Spend a weekend in Death Valley to discover more about the unique national park and the various peoples that have passed through, leaving behind ghost towns. Be sure to check park websites before you plan your trek because random flooding and other natural happenings can affect trails and campsites, as can sudden changes in the weather.
The vastly different terrains of Death Valley offer a variety of trails of differing ease. For a moderate to difficult hike, try the three-mile Golden Canyon hike, the 4.3-mile Gower Gulch Hike, or the 2.7-mile Badlands Loop. Choose your routes based on level of experience and endurance or how much time you have to explore.
Zabriskie Point offers some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the world. Built by the Borax Company to give visitors a rest, the area is filled with wildflowers after spring rains. At any of time of the year, it is one of the most popular areas in the park because it features amazing views of the park’s “Badlands.” As the lowest point in the United States, Zabriskie Point has been featured in films and is even the namesake and setting for a 1970s movie.
Furnace Creek is one of the many campgrounds in the national park. It’s open year-round and you can make a reservation for a spot during March-November, when the park is the most popular. There are campsites with hookups as well as tent-only slots. The campground is conveniently located near the park’s visitor center as well as other symptoms of humanity like restrooms and a golf course. Other campgrounds are also in the park, but aren’t open year-round. If you’re camping with a crowd, reserve a campsite for groups and be sure to check for other information regarding fire safety.
Death Valley Ghost Towns are a rich part of California history. Nearly 10 ghost towns are located in Death Valley, some of which no longer have any obvious evidence of their former existence. Many have rich legends and some remains that can be found in the park. Most closed when their industry’s failed. You can access many of them by vehicle and a few only on unpaved trails.