A land of lost rivers, with little in it to love; yet a land that once visited must be come back to inevitably.Mary Austin
I really can’t think of a better quote to describe Death Valley National Park. There is so much to see in this park because it is so big. I’m already itching to return, but here are the places that captured my heart on my frist trip.
- Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Popular for sunrise and sunset, these dunes are not to be missed. Walking around this area for even a few minutes will make you feel like you’re in Aladdin. Yes, I was singing Arabian Nights in my head, sometimes out loud, the entire time I was exploring. Suggestion: wander off the beaten path to find a few untouched dunes for magical pictures.
- Badwater Basin: Want to visit the place with the lowest elevation (-282 feet below sea level!) in North America? Get there early. This salt flat is magical. We lucked out with the rain the night before made it look like you were seriously walking on water in places. However, this place is hot. Even in the winter. I recommend an early morning visit before the temperatures get too intense.
- On your way back to the center of the park take a detour through Artists Drive. Enjoy this nine-mile drive through chalk colored hills. Not literally, but that is what it looks like. There is no need to get out of your car for this, you can simply enjoy the fun, windy, hilly roads, but if you feel the need to explore, hop out at Artists Palette Viewpoint for a better look at this geological wonder.
- Zabriskie Point: Whether you’re starting your day here or ending here, this spot is not to be missed. This point overlooks the badlands and catches some of the best sunrises and sunsets. There is also ample hiking around the area. You can do the quick Badlands Loop (2.5 mi.) or hike all the way to Golden Canyon.
Looking for a place to stay? There is one free camp site (Emigrant – we got lucky and got the last spot here) and plenty of paid camping sites for tents and RVs. There are also a few hotels/resorts in the park. Which is definitely a good option for comfort and AC if you’re not into camping.
Bonus: If you’re a sucker for ghost towns (I am) head towards Beatty, Nevada, and check out Rhyolite. A once-booming mining town, it is now remnants of buildings and elaborate art displays.
Erin Leigh Frederick, agirlcalledfred, is a Lake Tahoe resident and enjoys everything her home has to offer with her two dogs. An avid traveler she is constantly planning short weekend trips to longer international trips. When she ends up taking them is another story!