Death Valley is one of my favorite places in California and is definitely in my top three National Parks to visit. Here is a list of ten attractions in Death Valley which could be seen in two days (possibly one if you get an early start to the day) but if you have the time you should spend a couple of extra days to fully explore the area. There are many amazing hikes and camping here is magical because the night sky has very low levels of light pollution.
Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
Wildrose Charcoal Kilns were built in 1876 to provide fuel to process silver and lead ore. There are ten of these beehive-shaped structures and are among the best preserved in the west. You can walk inside them and still smell the smoke. They are located in upper Wildrose Canyon in the Panamint Springs area and is a beautiful drive. If you're lucky you might spot some wild burro's.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Mesquite Sand Dunes rise nearly 100 feet from Mesquite flat. Late afternoon light accentuates the ripples and patterns while morning is a good time to view tracks of nocturnal wildlife. Moonlight on the dunes can be magical too however be on the lookout for rattle snakes.
Devils Golf Course
Another of mother nature's wonders, the Devils Golf Course is an immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. The rocks are so incredibly serrated it was said that only the devil could play golf on such rough links. The unpaved road to get here starts on Badwater road.
Artists Palette is a multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hill which is especially photogenic at sunset. There is a one way 9 mile scenic loop drive which starts on Badwater road. It is like a colorful picture the moment you pull up.
Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and half a mile across. It is known as a maar volcano and was created by steam and gas explosions when hot magma rising up from the depths reached ground water. Cinders from these explosions cover much of the surrounding area. Ubehebe Crater is easily viewed from the parking area on its rim, but further exploration will reveal smaller craters and interesting erosion. You can walk the rim of Ubehebe which is a moderate hike or even walk to the bottom of the crater if you feel like walking back up it.
Hidden in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon in far northern Death Valley, Scotty's Castle is a window into the life and times of the Roaring '20s and Depression '30s. It was a wealthy matron's vacation home and a man-of-mystery's hideout and getaway. Ranger-guided tours are the only way to see the interior of Scotty's Castle. Same-day tour tickets are sold at the Scotty's Castle Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis.
Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in North America. Badwater is a surreal landscape of vast salt flats which you can walk out on to. This place gives you another perspective to see the beauty of Death Valley. If you are here in summer make sure you are carrying water because temperatures can soar above 120 degrees.
Mosaic Canyon is a showcase of geologic features as well as a beautiful example of one of Death Valley’s many canyons. Mosaic Canyon was named for a rock formation known as the "Mosaic Breccia and is considered a geologic "outdoor museum". Located 1/4 mile west of Stovepipe Wells Village, the 2 mile gravel access road climbs 1000 feet. to the parking area. From here an easy 1/4 mile walk leads into the canyon narrows, where the surrounding rock walls are composed of smooth, water-polished marble.
The most breathtaking viewpoint in the park, this mountain-top overlook is more than 5000 feet above the inferno of Death Valley. Located directly above Badwater Basin, Dante’s View offers beautiful a vantage point over the vast salt pans of Death Valley. It is magical during sunrise with the mountains turning red at the first light. The paved access road is open to all vehicles less than 25 feet in length and starts east of Furnace Creek on Hwy 190
Zabriskie Point is located east of Death Valley and is a part of the Amargosa Range. Surrounded by a maze of wildly eroded and vibrantly colored badlands, this spectacular view is a must see! The view point is a short walk uphill from the parking area. The vista is incredible and is great for photo opportunities. There is a hiking trail below if you would like to go exploring.
Want to know where you should stay on your visit to Death Valley National Park?
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By Arial Evans
Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more