Death Valley – Why you should not miss this adventure?
I don't remember when and why the name of the place popped up in my mind, but since that time, it was under my to-visit radar. I reject 2-3 travel plans - my own and a few with friends because I wasn't going anywhere else until I see what this valley of death has in store for me.
At the time, I was in Seattle and, I along with 2 of my friends in the city, my sister who'd be coming from Irvine, California, and one of her friends, who'd join her in Irvine, planned a 4-day trip to Death Valley and Las Vegas (best combination ever - nature, adventure, and fun).
More about Las Vegas in another post. In this post, I'll share with you a 2-day itinerary to tour Death Valley National Park, and also any other handy tips that I have.
How to reach Death Valley?
Depending on which corner of the United States, or the world, you are coming from, the mode of transportation might change.
If you are coming from a little far within the States, you can take a flight to Las Vegas or Los Angeles, whichever is more convenient for you. From there, you can rent a car, and drive to Death Valley National Park.
You can also book one day trip around Death Valley from Las Vegas, in case you do not intend on driving.
A few things to keep in mind, before you hit the road to Death Valley.
- Fill your car's fuel from the city, reasons being, you'll not find many gas stations, as you enter the desert region, and second, the fuel price is notably high at those gas stations
- Download an offline map of the place, because there is no network
Where to stay?
There are 4 hotels located inside the national park, including, Stovepipe Wells Village, The Oasis At Death Valley, The Ranch At Death Valley, and Panamint Springs Resort. These hotels provide rooms, as well as camping, and RV accommodations. Other than these, there are a few options outside the park, which are at least 25-30 miles from the park.
We, however, stayed at Longstreet Inn & Casino in Amargosa Valley, which is around 25 miles from the Death Valley National Park.
The hotel rooms were decently clean with an outdoor pool and view of the mountains. There are not many restaurants around the area, so the only place to eat was at the hotel restaurant. The food was average for vegetarians, though it had better options for non-vegetarians.
Once you have sorted your commute and stay, this is how you can plan your travel itinerary in Death Valley.
Our flight had landed in Las Vegas, and we reached Amargosa Valley by noon. The day was cloudy, so we didn't plan a lot of places on our first day, just one, Badwater Basin. And since we took a longer route, we had to drive almost 90 miles (actual distance from our hotel is 50 miles) to reach the Badwater Basin.
The lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin is a vast dried up land with hexagonal salt formations created as the water from the scarce rains evaporated. The point is almost 86 m below sea level. You can see a spot marked "Sea Level" on the mountains facing the basin.
Apart from the Badwater Basin, we got down at several points in between to appreciate the magnificent dry landscapes. I am not very sure of the exact locations, but you'll find many such spots on your way too.
The second day was much more clearer than the first day with clear blue skies and scattered clouds throwing their shadows on the mountains below.
Formed due to water washing off the rocks and forming gullies giving it a landscape that exists now. You can also take a walk around these badlands - it is around a 2.5 hike that takes you to Gower Gulch and back to the Zabriskie.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
A vast stretch of dunes, one of the fewer places in Death Valley that had sand gathered from rock erosion and winds. The dunes are not too high, and you have to walk further into the stretch to experience slightly higher dunes. Stovepipe Wells resort is nearby, and you can make a quick stop here for snacks.
Ubehebe Crater is one of the younger craters, and possibly still active that was formed due to magma eruption. The groundwater that had come out as steam exploded the rocks above, and thus created the crater cavity. You can also walk around the crater, it is approximately 1.5 miles. You can also climb to the top to get a better view of the crater bottom.
Wait for the starry night in the desert before you head back to Las Vegas.