Death Valley National Park

Catch Death Valley National Park when the moon is small on a crisp, cloudless fall day and it can feel like you’re standing in space. There are special stargazing points near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Stovepipe Wells where the mountains don’t encroach on the cosmos.

They don’t call it Death Valley National Park for nothing. California’s biggest, hottest, and most extreme national park may routinely hit temperatures exceeding 120 degrees during summer days (and a not-so-relieving 90 degrees at night), but the park has a certain mystique that keeps it at the top of lists for must-see California sights.  Death Valley gives badlands a good name. Here, the Mojave meets multiple mountain ranges that shelter it from surrounding climates. This is no paradisiacal Yosemite and you won’t find any massive redwoods, but that doesn’t mean the rugged desert and its salt flats—like Badwater Basin, which boasts the lowest point in North America below sea level—don’t offer otherworldly views with vibrant colors.  There’s plenty of terrain for backcountry hiking, camping, and driving for the more than 800,000 visitors that come each year. Many of them stop at scenic Zabriskie Point to watch the sun rise, or head to Racetrack Playa to see the home of the mysterious sailing stones, one of the natural wonders of the world, or drive out to Twenty Mule Team Canyon for breathtaking views of the dunes. The park is open throughout the year, but November through May make for easier hiking climates. 

Camping, hiking

United States

Death Valley National Park Map

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