Death Valley was probably one of my favorite places I’ve visited so far. It’s seriously so beautiful! If you don’t like the desert, you probably don’t want to visit this National Park. If you are a desert lover, this is a must-see. Every hike we did was so different from the one before, and the weather was pretty perfect. This is definitely the place to visit in the spring and fall and to completely avoid in the summer. We contemplated stopping here in August when we were on our way to Mammoth, the temperature was like 113! We decided to go in mid-February and it was in the 80s pretty much the whole time.
The hotel/camping situation in Death Valley is a little rough. There are hotels located in Death Valley, but the rooms are often fully booked or REALLY expensive. Camping is also a little iffy because they do have frequent dust storms! There was a dust storm that started on our last evening and I was definitely glad we didn’t camp. We stayed at Longstreet Inn and Casino which is actually right across the CA border into Nevada. It was about a 30min drive from Furnace Creek Visitors Center, which is a great resource to find park maps, pay the Park fee, and check out their interactive museum. Death Valley National Park advertises for this challenge called #HikeDeathValley where you can visit places on their list of sites in Death Valley, take photos, post to social media, and get a free sticker! We did this and felt very accomplished after, also we got fun stickers!
There are a few places in Death Valley that are the best (in my opinion) to see, especially if you only have a weekend. First! Badwater Basin salt flats that sit 282ft below sea level, the lowest point in North America. There is a boardwalk that takes you out onto the salt flats and once you get out pretty far it seems otherworldly like you aren’t on the same planet! The walk out on the flats isn’t very long, but it gets really hot.
Once we left Badwater we also drove through Artist’s Palette which is a scenic one-way route that allows you to check out some of the different colors in the mountains! Zabriskie Point is a lookout point that is really close to the visitor’s center. We watched the sunset at this lookout point on our first night in the park. It was incredible!
The second day we started with Salt Creek Interpretive Trail which was a short walk on a boardwalk built above the creek. This is home to the extremely rare Death Valley pupfish, found in only two places on earth both in Death Valley. It was super crazy seeing a saltwater creek in the middle of the desert, but it was so cool to see a lot of wildlife! Lizards everywhere and we saw multiple pupfishes which are currently classified as endangered.
The hike out to the Mesquite Sand Dunes was probably the most difficult of the whole trip. It isn’t very long, but you are walking through soft sand and climbing huge sand dunes if you really want to take it all in, which I suggest you do! I really had to be talked into finishing this hike, climbing dunes is hard work!
Our final trek of the day was a hike through Mosaic Canyon. By this point, I was so exhausted but this hike was so unique and pretty. Some parts of the canyon have really slim pathways with so many pretty patterns and textures on the rocks. The weather had cooled down at this point in the day, making this hike so enjoyable.
There were some things that we did not get to do in Death Valley that I would have liked to! There are jeeps available to rent in Furnace Creek that looked so fun! We would have liked to have gotten out to what they call The Racetrack which is where the moving rocks are! The roads to get there are really rough and require an off-road type of vehicle. Also, Scotty’s Castle will be closed until 2020 because of damage it suffered because of flooding. We’d like to go back in a few years and visit!