Summary: Complete Guide to 6 Must-See Death Valley National Park locations, Sand Dunes, Viewpoints, Canyons, Camping spots, What to Pack and more. *I use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Thanks for your support!
Land Acknowledgement: Newe Land. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting!
Check to see the status of Park trails and campgrounds HERE. Depending on when you’re reading this, there may be a stay at home order still in place and National Parks respond according to the State’s Covid-19 status.
- Video Series: Death Valley
- Locations You Must-See in Death Valley National Park
- 1 The Dunes in Death Valley
- 2 Artist's Drive / Artist's Palette
- 3 Badwater Salt Flats
- 4 Zabriskie Point
- 5 Dante's Viewpoint
- 6 Sidewinder Canyon
- Getting to the Must-See Death Valley Locations
- Best Time to Visit
- Where to Stay in Death Valley National Park?
- Tecopa Hot Springs
- Shop My Adventure Favorites:
Video Series: Death Valley
If you want a short visual of our time in the Death Valley National Park, check out the YouTube Video my partner Johnathon DeSoto created! Subscribe if you want to see the complete mini series!
Locations You Must-See in Death Valley National Park
Alright, so when I went to Death Valley National Park for the first time (December 2020), I will admit, I did not do as much research as I would have liked. I was also there for such a short period of time that I only got to see some of these incredible places. So, I’m going to share the top spots I visited, and the ones I WISH I would have. Update: I was able to go to all of these incredible places now!!
The first 3 locations will have links to In-Depth Guides that you definitely won’t want to miss (especially the travel photographers out there!)
1 The Dunes in Death Valley
I was unaware that there are FIVE different dune areas in Death Valley National Park! FIVE! And they all have unique features and different pros/cons of visiting.
I highly recommend reading my Detailed guide on all things Death Valley Dunes: SAND DUNES IN DEATH VALLEY: COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE BEST DUNES
2 Artist’s Drive / Artist’s Palette
Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette is an experience you absolutely do not want to miss out on if you’re visiting Death Valley or even just passing through. Artist’s Drive is a curvy 9 mile one-way road that travels north to south on Badwater Road revealing vibrant multi-colored mountains in California.
Read My Complete Guide: ARTIST’S PALETTE IN DEATH VALLEY: THE COMPLETE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE
For me, knowing what to expect when I’m going somewhere for the first time, can ultimately make a photoshoot. Tips like time of day, trails, parking, length of time to get there are all things that are so important to budget for if you are planning on photographing at sunrise or sunset.
3 Badwater Salt Flats
The Badwater Basin Salt Flats are stunning hexagonal-patterned salt crystals with the cliffs of the Black Mountains in the distance. Can you tell why this is a must-see Death Vally location?
The formation of the salt crystals are so interesting to look at up close as the the crystals expanded into ridges and flat portions. Badwater Basin is also a point of interest due to it being the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Wrap your head around being BELOW SEA LEVEL.
Be sure to check out my complete guide on the Salt Flats so you know what to expect. Hint: Parking lot gets full!! SALT FLATS IN DEATH VALLEY: COMPLETE GUIDE TO BADWATER BASIN
4 Zabriskie Point
Zabriskie Point is a stunning elevated viewpoint that features a colorful, landscape of folding valleys and hills at the edge of the Black Mountains.
This short hike (.4 miles to viewpoint) reveals incredible views at every angle. I’m so glad I was able to go back to Death Valley and experience this place. In addition to the viewpoint, there is a trail to the right of the parking lot that took me to the place where I took the photo above!
5 Dante’s Viewpoint
Dante’s Viewpoint in Death Valley gives you sweeping panoramic views of the entire valley. Even better, you can drive right up to the view. There is a short hike for a different viewpoint that is an easy 1 mile trail from the parking lot.
I’d recommend packing extra warm layers if you plan to go at sunrise or sunset as it could get breezy up here. I’m sure you can see why I’ve added this to my must-see Death Valley locations.
6 Sidewinder Canyon
This hike was more on the adventurous side to explore.
At 3.9 miles roundtrip, you’ll get in a workout with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If your journey continues to explore the entirety of the canyon, this will involve climbing up rocks. Be sure you’re extra prepared for this one.
We only hiked a little over a mile in and checked out some of the slot canyon areas at the beginning of this hike.
Getting to the Must-See Death Valley Locations
- Distance from Las Vegas: 2 hours
- Distance from Los Angeles: 4.5 hours
- From San Francisco: 8.5 hours
PARKING PASS & FEES
The National Park pass – America the Beautiful is required to spend time in Death Valley! Purchase online HERE.
Best Time to Visit
If you don’t know, Death Valley holds the highest heat record in the WORLD. At 134°F, this national park does not mess around.
The IDEAL time to visit Death Valley is between October-May.
I have visited in both December and March and both times the weather was lovely. Chilly in the mornings and nights, but warm and cozy during the day.
- October 93°F/ 62°
- November 77°F/ 48°
- December 64°F / 48°
- January 65°F / 49°
- February 66°F / 50°
- March 82°F/ 55°
- April 90°F/ 62°
Where to Stay in Death Valley National Park?
Be sure to check the Covid-19 status of California before planning a trip as well as the status of the National Park HERE. As I am writing this blog post, there is currently a stay at home order in place, which means some or all of these places to camp and stay are closed.
CAMPING OPTIONS NEAR AND IN DEATH VALLEY:
If you guys have read any of my blog posts before, you know I LOVE finding free camping on freecampsites.net. Another good option is TheDyrt.com. There are several options in Death Valley, but I’ll list just a few that are closest to the action!
- Death Valley National Park – Lee Flat
- Open all year round
- Free, dispersed camping
- First come, first serve
- Restrooms available
- Death Valley National Park – Emigrant Campground
- Open all year
- 10 sites
- water is available
- toilets are available
- Death Valley National Park – Stove Pipe Wells
- Mid September – Mid May
- $12 a night
- Water and Toilets available
A hotel and Visitor Center exist in Furnace Creek in the center of all the action. Airbnb has some options on the outskirts of the park that will require a drive in. I found a couple of charming ones:
Tecopa Hot Springs
If you love hot springs, you have to check out this rather eccentric place. Definitely the most fun and unique hot spring experience I’ve had with friends!
Shop My Adventure Favorites:
I’m beginning to really enjoy planning my outfits that look good and are practical, multifunctional items!
A trip to Death Valley National Park is an incredible way to see unique landscapes and a National Park that should definitely be on your list!
- Death Valley Sand Dunes
- Artist’s Palette
- Badwater Salt Flats
- Zabriskie Point
- Dante’s View
- Sidewinder Canyon
Let me know if you plan to use this guide in the comments below! And DEFINITELY let me know if I’m missing a location you think should be on here.
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