Photo: Dan sedran/Shutterstock

The Ultimate Road Trip Guide Through Death Valley National Park

California Travel Insider Guides
by Hayley Goerisch Sep 7, 2016

Los Angeles to Death Valley National Park Entrance

When driving from Los Angeles to Death Valley National Park, make a stop in Barstow to the see 134-foot tall thermometer and grab a gyro at the Mad Greek. To see an ancient mammoth skeleton, visit the tiny Shoshone Museum, and stay the night at the Shoshone Inn. Then, once the sun goes down, go for a nighttime swim with the bats a natural spring-fed pool that’s just a 5-minute walk down the street.

Zabriskie Point and Twenty Mule Canyon

Drive north on Highway 127 then follow Highway 190 into the park. After paying the $20 entrance fee, check out the dramatic sediment stratifications left behind by a dried up lake bed from Zabriskie Point. Go back in history through Twenty Mule Canyon and the Harmony Borax Works. Nothing represents the history of Death Valley like the Twenty Mule Team on its 160-mile journey south to Mojave for the Harmony Borax Soap Company. Make a camping reservation for Wildrose Campground at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and enjoy the treat of a creamy, cold date shake at the Ranch General Store.

Badwater Basin and the Artist’s Palette

With plenty of daylight left, you can follow the signs south on Badwater Road to Badwater Basin. On the way, veer off on the one-way Artist’s Drive to see the otherworldly Artist’s Palette, an oxidized mountain face of red, pink, and purple pastels. Follow the road further south and pull into the parking lot next to the sign marked “Badwater Basin 282 Feet Below Sea Level.” Tread carefully out onto the basin to check out the hexagonal honeycomb salt crust. Be careful, sometimes the salt crust may be only a thin layer over the mud.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Wildrose Canyon

Head back north on Badwater Road toward Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Twenty minutes later going north on Highway 190, you can see some movie and sci-fi history at the 700-foot tall Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, featured as Tatooine in Star Wars. Pocketed between the dunes are the yellow flowers of creosote bush and mesquite. From here, it’s time to drive south on Emigrant Canyon Road — this is one of the best places to view the springtime blooms of lilac sunbonnet. Wildrose Campground is situated near the trailhead for Telescope Peak. In the springtime, desert alyssum and indigo hang from the canyon walls. Stake your tents well as things can get blustery here, especially during the springtime.

Indians scattered on dawns highway bleeding , ghost crowd the child’s fragile eggshell mind.

A photo posted by Ädrian Alarcon♊️ (@lizardking.909) on

Charcoal Kiln Road

Drive seven miles further down Charcoal Kiln Road for another Death Valley sight. And no, they are not the hives of enormous space wasps. What you’ll see are the 25-foot historic kilns built by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company in 1877 for the production of juniper and pinyon charcoal. This is also a great jumping off point for the 14-mile round trip to Telescope Peak, the highest point in Death Valley at over 11,000 feet. This peak affords views of more than a hundred miles and you can see Mt. Whitney from the top.

Eureka Mine

After a night of crystal clear skies perfect for stargazing, head back toward Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. On the way, make a turn off on Aguereberry Point Road and follow the signs to Eureka Mine. Death Valley National Park has more abandoned mines than any other national park. Most of them are closed to the public, but Eureka Mine is one of the few which have been stabilized. The drive is a little sketchy, turning into a dirt road at the end, but my Jetta made it, so it’s not inaccessible to most cars. If you want to explore the mine, keep in mind it is closed in the winter months for bat hibernation. Don’t forget your flashlight.

Ubehebe Crater and Eureka Sand Dunes

Follow Scotty’s Castle Road to Ubehebe Crater Road to the park’s northeastern section. Best known for Scotty’s Castle, which is, unfortunately, at the time of this article, closed due to a 2015 flood, this section of the park hosts two other Death Valley attractions: the Ubehebe Crater and the newly acquired Eureka Dunes. Explore the 777-foot deep and half-mile-wide Ubehebe Crater from the rim trail. Scientists are still unsure of how old it is and the estimate of its age range from 800 to 7,000 years old. End your trip with a visit to the newly acquired Eureka Dunes which rise 680 feet above the valley floor, making them one of the highest dunes in North America.

Sunset 🌄 at Ubehebe Crater 😊 Gotta love Death Valley

A photo posted by H Peter Ji (@hpeterji) on

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