Stargazing at Stovepipe Wells in California's Death Valley National Park. Photo by the author.

5 Experiences You Have to Have in Death Valley

California Student Work National Parks
by Nikki Vargas Nov 2, 2015

1. “Half the park is after dark.”

Photo by the author.

Seeing the stars can be tricky as the bright lights of big cities eclipse the constellations in most places and make seeing the Milky Way virtually impossible. When it comes to Death Valley, as Californians like to say, “half the park is after dark”. It’s a prime location to see the stars — in fact, it is certified as a “Gold Tier” international dark sky by the International Dark Sky Association, which essentially means the night sky retains its darkness with minimal interruption from city lights. Whether you have a telescope or just look up at the sky, you should definitely star-gaze in Death Valley.

2. Catch the sunset over the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.


Photo by the author.

Forget pretty sunsets over the ocean. Better is watching a sunset over the dunes in Death Valley. The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are the best known dunes in Death Valley and just minutes from the Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel. The sand dunes are best visited around sunrise or sunset when the pastel light paints the mountains in shades of pink and blue.

3. Trek to the top of Dante’s View for an awesome view of Death Valley.

Dante's View in California's Death Valley National Park.

Photo by the author.

If you want to get the best view of Death Valley then you need to head over to Dante’s View, the highest point in Death Valley standing at 5,000 feet. It’s easy enough to get to Dante’s View by car and then take a 5 minute walk to the peak where you’ll spot salt pans down below and the banded canyons and rising mountains in the distance.

4. Stand at the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin.


Photo by the author.

Standing at 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is a salt pan extending in all directions as far as the eye can see. The white path is created by the many footprints of Badwater visitors crushing the salt beneath their sneakers.

5. Go check out the natural stripes of Zabriskie Point.


Photo by the author.

There are some landscape photographs that circle the internet that look too perfect to possibly be real. The photos look Photoshopped – until you are standing at the very place the photo was taken and realize some places simply are that surreal. Zabriskie Point in Death Valley is one such place as it overlooks vibrantly colored badlands (a type of terrain made of softer sedimentary rock). The best time to see Zabriskie Point is during sunset or sunrise when the stripes pop in the sunlight, making the terrain look like a painting.

This press trip was sponsored by Visit California.

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