What you need to know before visiting Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is a mesmerizing expanse of natural wonders, attracting adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, and solo travelers alike. With its dramatic landscapes, unique geological formations, and extreme weather conditions, Death Valley offers an unparalleled experience for those seeking adventure. However, being prepared is key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable trip. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know before visiting Death Valley, from entrance fees to packing essentials.

Know which entrance fees apply to you

Before you set foot in Death Valley, it’s important to be aware of the cost of entrance passes. The park charges a fee that is valid for seven days. As of the latest updates, the costs are as follows:

  • Per person – $15
  • Private vehicle – $30
  • Motorcycle – $25

You can purchase passes at the park entrance or online through the National Park Service website. If you plan to visit other national parks within the year, consider investing in the America the Beautiful Annual Pass, which grants access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites for $80.

Decide which points of interest you want to see

Death Valley is vast, and mapping out your must-see destinations can help you make the most of your visit. Some of the park’s highlights include:

  • Badwater Basin: The lowest point in North America, this striking salt flat sits at 282 feet below sea level.
  • Dante’s View: A spectacular viewpoint offering panoramic vistas of the valley and beyond.
  • Zabriskie Point: Famous for its colorful erosional landscape and sunrise views.
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Ideal for photography, hiking, and sandboarding, or simply admiring the views.
  • Artist’s Palette: An area of brilliantly colored rock formations, with pink, purple, green and gold hues.

Plan your route and allocate sufficient time for each location to avoid rushing through the park, or taking on too much at once.

Make sure you’re ready for your activities

Whether you’re hiking, stargazing, or hope to photograph the landscapes, ensure you’re prepared for the activities you intend to undertake:

  • Hiking: Choose trails that match your fitness level. Popular hikes include Mosaic Canyon, which involves a little rock scrambling, and Ubehebe Crater Loop, which only takes an hour but isn’t one for those who are afraid of heights.
  • Stargazing: Death Valley is a designated Dark Sky Park, making it one of the best spots in the U.S. for stargazing. Bring a telescope or binoculars for an enhanced experience.
  • Photography: The diverse landscapes provide endless opportunities for photography. Ensure your camera gear is ready, and consider bringing a tripod for night shots.

Prepare for the high temperatures

Death Valley is known for its extreme heat, especially during the summer months when temperatures can soar above 120°F (49°C). Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Visit during cooler months: The best time to visit is between November and March when temperatures are milder.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s recommended to carry at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Light, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing is ideal. Don’t forget sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunscreen.
  • Avoid strenuous activities during peak heat: Plan hikes and other physical activities for early morning or late afternoon.

Pack carefully for the trip

Being properly equipped can make a huge difference in your Death Valley experience. Here’s a checklist to help you pack:

  • Water and snacks: Sufficient water and high-energy snacks are essential.
  • Navigation tools: A detailed map of the park, a compass, and a GPS device.
  • Emergency kit: First aid supplies, a flashlight, extra batteries, and a multi-tool.
  • Clothing and gear: Pack appropriate clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and extra layers for the cooler nights.
  • Camping equipment: If you’re camping, bring a tent, sleeping bags, and cooking supplies. Check the park’s regulations and book campsites in advance.

Visiting Death Valley is a unique and rewarding adventure, but preparation is key to making the most of your trip while staying safe. So get ready to explore the stunning landscapes and diverse attractions of Death Valley National Park, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Happy travels!


Leave a Comment