Death Valley National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Striking wonder of hot deserts, rugged mountains, and mystifying salt flats await you on your RV getaway to Death Valley National Park. Straddling on the California and Nevada border, this stunning landscapes encompasses the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts. Death Valley National Park has a number of claims to fame. Not only is Death Valley the largest national park in the lower 48 states, but it’s also the hottest, driest, and lowest. Once home to Native Americans and miners, this breathtaking environment was also the backdrop of an alien world when filming the original Star Wars.

Many adventures await you in Death Valley, and heading there in your RV is the best way to explore. You can stare in awe at natural hot springs, gaze up at some of the world’s best starry night skies, or hike through the amazing desert backcountry. You can grab a bite to eat a restaurant in Furnace Creek and then spend the afternoon exploring the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes or get a taste of history at the Keane Wonder Mine. There are many natural attractions you can see right from the comfort of your RV, including the salt flats at Badwater Basin or the rocky terrain of Devil’s Golf Course. You won’t want to miss a sunrise panoramic view of the badlands at Zabriskie Point.

October through April is the most popular season for Death Valley since the temperature can skyrocket to over 120 degrees in the summer. However, there are loads of indoor and outdoor activities all year long around all three million acres of the park. Many of the must-see sites are RV-accessible and there are several RV-friendly campgrounds to make sure you can rest up in comfort. Most of the campgrounds allow the use of generators during daytime hours and you can stock up on food, gas, and supplies in Furnace Creek. If you want to set your eyes on spectacular natural attractions you can’t see anywhere else in the world, an RV trip through Death Valley National Park is a must.

Park Alerts (3)

[Park Closure] Scotty's Castle CLOSED until fall 2021. [+ Info]

Flooding in Grapevine Canyon from a severe thunderstorm has destroyed the road to Scotty's Castle, damaged infrastructure and some out-buildings in the Castle complex.

[Caution] Extreme Heat Warning [+ Info]

Temperatures are forecast to be over 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) at Furnace Creek. Use caution when visiting the park.

[Information] Current Conditions: Closed Roads, Campgrounds, and Condition Updates [+ Info]

Check out the current conditions/road updates for specific information on any current road or campground closures.

RV Rentals in Death Valley National Park

Transportation in Death Valley National Park

Driving

Getting to Death Valley National Park is easy from all directions, with Highway 190 crossing through the park from east to west. The park does have RV-friendly roads, making it easy to get around all the major attractions. You’ll want to be careful driving through some areas of the park due to unpaved or narrow roads and height limits. Cell phone reception and GPS navigation reliability can be spotty, so made sure you bring a road map.

Parking

Parking is provided at most major attractions such as Badwater Basin, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Zabriskie Point, as well as the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and campsites. Some parking lots may have restrictions for RVers. For instance, the parking lot for Dante’s View has a spot to leave your trailer behind before you ascend the most difficult part of the road.

Public Transport

There is no public transportation to Death Valley National Park, but there are other ways of getting around. If are you coming to the area by train, the nearest Amtrak train station is in Barstow. Exploring the park by bicycle is a popular option since you can cycle on all roads within the park.

Campgrounds and parking in Death Valley National Park

Campsites in Death Valley National Park

Reservations camping

Furnace Creek Campground

From October 15th to April 15th, reservations are available for up to 14 days at a time at the over 100 sites at Furnace Creek. Reservations can be made from 4 days to up to 6 months in advance by calling ahead or booking online. During the rest of the year this campground is First-Come-First-Served. Furnace Creek is one of the most popular campsites due to its location to services and its many amenities. From your RV, you’ll have access to restrooms, a dump station, water, picnic tables, and fire pits. You can easily visit the Visitors Center, check out an abandoned borax mine, or hike up the trails from your campsite. Furnace Creek Campground is suitable for RVs of all sizes and provides 18 sites with full hookups. Generators are permitted from 7am to 7pm.

First-come first-served

Mesquite Spring Campground

Open all year, this campground has 10 sites available that are suitable for RVs of all types. You can enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the picnic table and nights by the fire pit. This campground offers running water, flushable bathrooms, and a dump station. Generator use is allowed from 7 am to 7 pm.

Texas Springs Campground

This campground is open from November to April with 92 sites available that are open to RVs of all sizes. Located in the hills above Furnace Creek, this campground offers many amenities including water, restrooms, and a dump station. You can enjoy great views and some shady spots by the fire or around the picnic table at each site. Generators are not permitted at this campground.

Wildrose Campground

Located high in the Panamint Mountains, this campground is open year-round with 23 sites available. You will have access to running water, restrooms, picnic tables, and a firepit. RV access to this campsite is limited to vehicles up to 25 feet in length.

Sunset Campground

Open from November to April, Sunset Campground is a centrally located site right near the Visitor Center in Furnace Creek. RVs are all sizes can park here with 270 sites available. You will have convenient access to water, restrooms, and a dump station. Not only is this the largest campground in the park, it’s in a great location. Meaning you can head out to all the major attractions with ease. You can use generators here during restricted hours.

Stovepipe Wells Campground

Stovepipe Wells Campground is open from September to May with 190 sites available. Suitable for RVs of all sizes, you can easily stock up on supplies at the nearby general store. You will have access to water, restrooms, and a dump station too. You can use a generator on-site from 7 am to 7 pm.

Alternate camping

Backcountry Camping

If you want to get out into the serenity and solitude of wilderness you might just love a backcountry camping experience in the over 3 million acres of Death Valley National Park. Backcountry camping is allowed if you are at least one mile away from paved or day use roads. You’ll want to bring plenty of water, food, and your own map to make sure you are prepared, but you’ll be in store for some of the most stunning landscapes in the west.

Private Campgrounds

There are three private campground suitable for RVs in the park with all the modern amenities you will enjoy. You can dine, golf, or take a swim on-site depending on which RV park you choose. If you prefer to stay outside of the park there are numerous RV parks on the western side of the park in nearby Beatty, Amargosa Valley, and Pahrump.

Emigrant Campground

Emigrant Campground is open year-round for tents only. This campground has 10 sites available with access to restrooms, running water, and picnic tables. You’ll love the gorgeous views of the valley from this scenic campground.

Seasonal activities in Death Valley National Park

Spring

Picnic at Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls, located just over a mile west of Panamint Springs, is one of the few spots with crystal clear water in the entire park. Get your camera ready for this desert oasis in Death Valley complete with lush natural springs, waterfalls, watercress, and shady trees. After a moderate hike to the falls you can enjoy a scenic picnic surrounded by a tranquil landscape. There is a small gravel parking lot near the entrance to the hike, but it is not recommended for large RVs.

Hiking in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are an incredible site in Death Valley that you won’t want to miss. You can enjoy an easy two-mile round trip hike for some jaw-dropping views of high sandy dunes under a rugged rocky backdrop. Located in the Stovepipe Wells Village, the nearby parking lot offers pull-through spots for RVs and trailers.

Star Wars Auto Tour

Do you want to go out of this world with your RV trip to Death Valley National Park? You can venture to the amazing locations of the fictional planet Tatooine from the original Star Wars movie. There are six separate sites you can visit to get a glimpse of Star Wars history during your stay at the park, including the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Desolation Canyon.

Take a Jeep Tour

If you want to explore all the amazing sites of Death Valley National Park in a unique way, hire a private company to take a jeep tour. This guided once-in-a-lifetime expedition will let you travel in style through sandy dunes, salt flats, and colorful canyons. These jam-packed tours will take you to all the major natural attractions so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

Spring is a perfect time to explore all the natural splendor of Death Valley National Park while cruising on your bike. There are tons of bike trails for all ability levels waiting to be explored, from the easy Salt Creek Road to the strenuous Trail Canyon Road. You bike through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes while soaking in views of rugged mountains, colorful canyons, and sandy dunes. Biking is allowed on paved roads and unpaved trails.

Summer

Photography at Ubehebe Crater

During your summer RV trip to Death Valley National Park you won’t want to miss a pitstop to Ubehebe Crater. This jaw-dropping volcanic crater is 600 feet deep and a half a mile across. It’s a great spot for summer pictures since it can be viewed right from the parking area.

Explore the Devil’s Golf Course

For some of the most unique views in the entire park, take a scenic drive to the Devil’s Golf Course, which is a vast area filled with rocks that have been eroded into jagged spires. If you listen closely you can hear the pings and pongs of tiny salt crystals bursting apart in the heat. This striking large salt pan was named after a phrase in a 1934 National Park Service guidebook that claimed “only the devil could play golf” here.

Sightseeing Tour

If you want to explore Death Valley in style, hire a private company to give you a guided sightseeing tour. You’ll be able to see all the one-of-a-kind attractions of the park from the comfort of air-conditioned vehicles. You can see the colored stones of Artists Palette and take incredible pictures at Zabriskie Point with the help of an experienced guide to get you everywhere you need to go.

Tour Artists Drive

If you want to enjoy one of the most breathtaking drives in the country you’ll want take your RV or vehicle on a trip down Artists Drive. This 9-mile route will take you through multicolored hills and rugged beauty. The afternoon is the best time of day to catch photogenic views of colorful hillside and terrain. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll want to check out the filming location used for the first movie near the parking lot. This one-way drive is limited to vehicles up to 25 feet in length.

Check Out Furnace Creek Visitor Center

An RV vacation at Death Valley National Park wouldn’t be complete without learning more about the area’s incredible natural and cultural history. During those hot summer days, beat the heat at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center where you can watch an educational film, check out interpretive exhibits, and get the inside scoop from park rangers.

Fall

Discover the Mystery at the Racetrack

The Racetrack is a remote valley filled with wonder and striking beauty. The road to the Racetrack is only recommended for high clearance vehicles with 4x4, but the trek is worth it. After you make the expedition through whistling Joshua Trees you’ll discover the mystery of the moving rocks at the Racetrack, which baffled scientists for decades. Splattered across the desolate terrain are hundreds of rocks, some up to 700 pounds, which would mysterious move like magic, leaving behind eerie trails. The answer lies in the incredible climate of this mystifying environment.

Birding

Death Valley National Park is home to a diverse habitat of desert birds like the Cactus Wren and Mountain Bluebird, making it a prime spot for bird watching. For several weeks in the fall you will be thrilled by the scores of birds that migrate through the area. Popular bird watching spots include Furnace Creek Ranch, Saratoga Spring, and Wildrose.

Take a Bike Tour

You can cycle through colorful mountains and vast sandy dunes when you take an unforgettable bike tour through Death Valley National Park. Private companies offer the chance to take a guided tour with spectacular views right from your bike. If you want to soak in all of Death Valley’s best attraction like Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Golden Canyon, and Zabriskie Point while cycling with gorgeous backdrops all around you, this is the adventure for you.

Hiking through Golden Canyon

Imagine hiking through golden colored hills, winding canyons, and towering walls. This dream can become a reality with a hike through the Golden Canyon to the Red Cathedral. Star Wars fans are in for a treat since this was the filming backdrop of the fictional planet Tatooine in the original movie. The Red Cathedral is a fantastic site of towering red rocks that look down over narrow paths. The parking lot near this trail is suitable for RVs and trailers.

Visit Harmony Borax Works

Founded in the 1800s, the Harmony Borax Works holds great importance in Death Valley’s history since it helped developed the area due to the influx of borax miners. You can see the remains of settler buildings, railroad cars, wagons, and tools used by the miners. This is a prime site to soak up the amazing history behind Death Valley National Park’s heritage.

Winter

Ranger-Led Tours

The winter is a perfect time to take a ranger-led tour of Death Valley National Park. The park service offers regularly scheduled tours and talks at popular destinations including Golden Canyon, Mesquite Flat Dunes, and the Harmony Borax Works, where you can learn about the amazing cultural and natural history of the park from the experts.

Stargazing

Death Valley National Park is known to have some of the darkest skies in the country, meaning you are in for a treat of a night sky glittering with stars. You will be awed by incredible views of the Milky Way and eclipses. If you want to stargaze on your own the Harmony Borax Works, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Badwater Basin offer perfect viewpoints. You can also get out the telescope during one of the park’s regularly scheduled night sky programs.

Backpacking the Owlshead Mountains

If you want to explore the road less traveled and experience the incredible diversity of Death Valley you will enjoy backpacking through the Owlshead Mountains. This trek will take you through wondrous canyons, rolling hills, and desert wildflower meadows. This 7 to 18-mile moderate hike is perfect to get unique views you won’t find anywhere else in the park.

Hiking Wildrose Peak

Experienced hikers won’t want to miss a trip to Wildrose Peak, where you can get a glimpse of some of the beautiful, diverse landscapes that call Death Valley home. This 8-mile hike will take you to some gorgeous views of green peaks and desert valleys. There is a parking lot near the beginning of the trail that is suitable for RVs and vehicles up to 25 feet long. Driving to this location in large RVs is not recommended.

Sunrise & Sunset Photography at Zabriskie Point

The most famous viewpoint in the park is Zabriskie Point, where you can soak in breathtaking views of golden badlands, rolling desert terrain, and rugged mountains. For an unforgettable experience, get your camera and hike up to the viewpoint during a sunrise or sunset, when the desert sky lights up in a parade of colors.

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