When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Death Valley... Despite its morbid name, you will be charmed by this mysterious place with its mountains, canyons, sand dunes and salt pans.
Summer temperatures can rise above 50 degrees Celsius. The world record highest air temperature of 57o Celsius was recorded here in 1913!
Surprisingly, Death Valley is home to 1,000 species of nocturnal plants and animals. It's not easy to survive with an average of just 50 millimetres of rain per year!
Death Valley also contains the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, at 86 metres below sea level.
Star Wars fans will be interested to know that dozens of scenes were shot here. Filming locations include Artist’s Palette, Golden Canyon and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
PARC NATIONAL DEATH VALLEY
Season: Open year-round, 24 hours a day.
Visitor Center: The Furnace Creek Visitor Center & Museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entry fee: $30/vehicle including occupants. Valid 7 days. Purchase the America the Beautiful Pass for $80 if you plan to visit more than 2-3 parks.
Shuttle service inside the park? No
THE OASIS AT DEATH VALEY
This lush resort is an oasis in the middle of the desert. It has a hotel, a ranch, restaurants, shops, a gas station, campsites, a golf course, a lot of palm trees and more.
Dante’s View outlook soars more than 5,000 feet above the valley floor, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the valley with the Panamint Mountains in the distance. The paved access road is open to all vehicles under 25 feet in length and begins at Hwy 190 just east of Furnace Creek.
Zabriskie Point is located just east of Furnace Creek on Hwy190. It offers a stunning panorama of the badlands near Furnace Creek and is one of the most beautiful places to see a sunrise or sunset. A short walk up a paved hill from the parking lot will take you to this amazing vantage point.
Badwater Road is actually Highway 178 between Furnace Creek and Shoshone. It is the starting point for several of the park's most beautiful viewpoints.
Artist’s Palette is an area on the face of the Black Mountains noted for a variety of rock colors (red, pink, yellow, green, purple) worthy of an artist's palette. The colors are produced by the oxidation of the different metals in the rock, and the result is uniquely beautiful, especially in the late-afternoon light.
Artist's Palette is reached via Artists Drive off Badwater Road, a 9-mile (one-way) paved road which, once again, is only accessible to vehicles under 25 feet in length.
This is the lowest point in North America, at 86 metres below sea level. Badwater Basin is a vast surreal landscape of salt flats. Heavy rains (flash floods) periodically create temporary lakes here that quickly evaporate. Note that it is important not to walk on the salt flats in hot weather.
DEVIL’S GOLF COURSE
Devil’s Golf Course is a vast barren landscape of large salt formations created by the evaporation of a lake 2,000 years ago. The deposited minerals have been eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. It was named after a line in the 1934 Death Valley guidebook, which stated that "only the devil could play golf on such a surface". It is reached by a small road off Badwater Road that is often closed after it rains.
Gold prospector Walter Scott (known as Scotty) boasted that he built this Spanish-style villa with money from his fictitious gold mine. In reality, it was the 1920s vacation home of his wealthy friends, the Johnsons. Today, park rangers dressed in 1930s style clothes lead guided tours inside this richly furnished 25-room villa that is vibrant with history.
Currently closed, reopening scheduled for 2022. Check on the website.
Rhyolite sprung up in 1904 during the gold rush and just as quickly declined in 1910 for economic reasons. Today it is a ghost town whose old stone building are now crumbling ruins. It is hard to believe that in its heyday the town had 10,000 inhabitants, banks, restaurants, hotels, stores, theatres and all the conveniences of a large town of the time.
Rhyolite is 35 miles north-east (less that an hour) from Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Armagosa Cafe ($$-$$$)
This new and popular little restaurant serves delicious home-cooked farm-to-table meals and great coffee! The lunch menu offers a selection of sandwiches and salads. Armagosa Cafe is in Marta Becket’s Armagosa Opera House and Hotel (across from the theatre), at the corner of California Highway 127 and State Line Road in Death Valley Junction.
Generally open Friday to Monday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in high season.
THE INN AT DEATH VALLEY DINING ($$$- $$$$)
This restaurant at The Oasis at Death Valley resort is probably the best you will find in the park! The Inn Dining Room offers fine dining at breakfast, lunch, and dinner with stunning views of the desert salt pans and the majestic Panamint Mountains. The eclectic menu is inspired by classical, continental, southwest, and Pacific coast cuisine. There is also afternoon tea, a tradition since 1927, and Sunday brunch. Please note that there is a dress code for dinner (no shorts or T-shirts). Reservations required.
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
Meals and groceries are costly inside the park because of its remote location. If possible, bring a cooler with snacks, sandwiches and beverages. Ice is easy to find and you will be able to keep everything cool. Also, be aware that the restaurants in the park are nothing exceptional, but they will meet your needs.
Death Valley Dark Sky Festival
Dates: late February 2022
Death Valley offers exceptional conditions for stargazing. During the day, the Dark Sky Festival features guided hikes, ranger talks, family programming, and an exploration fair. At night, visitors can attend evening programs, night sky photography workshops, a star party, and much more!
- Very Favourable