One of my family’s favorite and top-ranked national parks is Death Valley National Park in California – a perfect day trip from Las Vegas. At 3.4 million acres, it is the largest U.S. National Park in the lower 48 states. And one of the best national parks in my opinion. Described as a place of extremes, Death Valley features low valley floors (which can become flooded during a rare rainstorm). And the mountains at Death Valley National Park climb as high as 11,000 feet. You’ll also find scenic canyons, sand dunes, salt flats, and even desert flowers when you explore Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley National Park: Perfect day trip from Las Vegas
We opted to take a guided day trip tour to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas with Bindlestiff Tours. It made for a long day, but so worth it. Our tour guide shared so much information throughout the drive from Vegas to Death Valley National Park. We learned so much about from history and geology. And we liked that our day trip to the top-ranked Death Valley National Park was a small group (fewer than 10 people).
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Furnace Visitor Center
When you visit Death Valley National Park, make sure to stop at the Furnace Visitor Center where you can learn more about the area, watch the 20-minute park film, grab a snack, check out the gift shop, and use the restrooms. Children can also become U.S. National Park junior rangers by completing some indoor activities.
Death Valley National Park tip: Stay hydrated in the hottest and driest place on earth
Death Valley National Park – one of the best national parks – is one of the hottest and driest places in the world. Stock up on plenty of water. It was a balmy 97 degrees when we visited Death Valley National Park. However, Death Valley did not feel like it. It actually felt comfortable.
But don’t let that fool you. Stay hydrated and drink regularly when visiting Death Valley National Park. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, make sure you take frequent water breaks. It could be a life or death situation in this kind of environment at Death Valley National Park.
That may sound extreme, but it is an area well-known for extremes – specifically the hottest place and driest place on earth. The U.S. National Park Service advises that you drink at least one gallon of water daily when visiting Death Valley National Park..
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the highest registered air temperature on earth was 134.1 °F (56.7 °C) in Furnace Creek Ranch, California on July 10, 1913. Furnace Creek is located in the Death Valley desert in the United States.
Zabriskie Point at Death Valley National Park
Dante’s View at Death Valley National Park
Badwater Basin and Salt Flats at Death Valley National Park
The source of Badwater Basin’s salts is due to Death Valley’s drainage system of 9,000 square miles – an area larger than New Hampshire. Rain falling on distant mountains creates floods that rush to the lower lands. Along the way, minerals dissolve from rocks. When the floods come to rest, they form temporary lakes in Death Valley National Park.
As the water evaporates, minerals concentrate until only the salts remain. After thousands of years, enough salts have washed in to produce layer upon layer of salt crust. Source: U.S. National Park Service
Devil’s Golf Course at Death Valley National Park
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Artist’s Palette at Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park desert wildflowers
Plan your visit to Death Valley National Park
You can find many more spectacular vistas in Death Valley, the largest national park in the continental United States. Consult the U.S. National Park Services website to plan your visit. Here’ll you find the latest seasonal updates and any closures. .
Responsible recreation and safety tips at Death Valley National Park
To ensure your enjoyment and safety and Death Valley National Park – and that of future visitors, here are some guidelines from the U.S. National Park Service.
- Carry extra water and drink regularly.
- Avoid hiking in the heat.
- Travel prepared to survive.
- If your car breaks down, stay with it. Don’t go searching for help.
- Remove your trash.
- Stay on designated roads.
- Do not feed the wildlife.
- Avoid canyons during rainstorms (flash floods appear without warning).
Another one of our favorite day trips from Las Vegas is Lower Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona – a surreal and magical experience hiking through slot canyons. And one of my other favorite national parks is Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis – see my one-day itinerary.