Ready for an extreme weekend? Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park, and is home to the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (282 feet below sea level). Check out my 2-day Death Valley itinerary to plan your weekend getaway!
Death Valley National Park Weekend Trip Overview
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 0-1
- Nights: 2
- Cost: $
Death Valley Itinerary
- Day 1: Mesquite Sand Dunes, Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater Basin, Natural Bridge
- Day 2: Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Palette, Mosaic Canyon
SEE ALSO: Camping at Anza Borrego State Park – Everything You Need to Know
How to Get to Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is about 5 hours northeast of Los Angeles. If you plan on driving here after work on Friday evening, I recommend breaking up the drive by stopping for the night at Red Rock Canyon campground, to avoid driving at night on the back roads to Death Valley.
This itinerary is based on driving from Los Angeles Friday night (stopping in Red Rock Canyon campground) and driving to Death Valley early Saturday morning from there, coming back Sunday afternoon.
Best Time to Visit Death Valley National Park:
Death Valley is famous for the highest temperature ever recorded in the world (134 degrees). Based on this extreme heat, the best time to go to Death Valley National Park is in winter when temperatures are more mild.
Where to Stay in Death Valley
Camping in Death Valley
There are several first-come/first-served campgrounds in Death Valley. We were there on a holiday weekend and were still able to find a spot at Sunset Campground with no problem ($16/night).
If you want to reserve a campground ahead of time, Furnace Creek campground is open to reservations from October 15th-April 15th for $22/night.
Try getting an awesome RV or campervan deal so you can camp with some comforts of home! want to reserve a campground ahead of time, Furnace Creek campground is open to reservations from October 15th-April 15th for $22/night.
Hotels near Death Valley:
If you aren’t the camping type, book a room at one of the lodges inside the park, such as the beautiful Inn at Death Valley!
For a more affordable hotel, you can stay just 15 minutes outside the park at Amargosa Opera House and Hotel
Death Valley Itinerary – Day 1
- Mesquite Sand Dunes
- Devil’s Golf Course
- Badwater Basin
- Natural Bridge
Mesquite Sand Dunes
The first stop you’ll encounter upon entering the park is Mesquite Sand Dunes. While these aren’t the tallest sand dunes in the park, they are the most accessible and are the largest dune field in Death Valley.
Devil’s Golf Course
Keep driving on the main park road until you come across signs for “Devil’s Golfcourse”. Make a short stop here- check out this large salt pan and venture out onto the jagged mounds of salt that keep going as far as the eye can see. This place got its name from an old guide book from the ’30’s that noted “only the devil could play golf here”
Natural Bridge Canyon
Continue on the main road until you get to Natural Bridge Canyon on the left side of the road. This 2.3 mile round-trip hike leads to a 50 ft. tall bridge that was formed naturally by erosion from flash floods. This bridge can be seen about 15 minutes into the hike from the parking lot, in case you don’t want to hike the full trail. Even though the trail is short and fairly easy, make sure to bring water, as the air is super hot and dry!
Keep going on the main park road until you get to the last stop of the day- Badwater Basin. This salt flat is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, at 282 ft. below sea level. Stroll along the boardwalk, going as far until the boardwalk disappears and you are walking on more of a dirt trail instead, to soak in the views without as many people around!
After Badwater Basin, head back towards the way you came to snag a spot at the first-come-first-served campground for the night (we stayed at Sunset campground).
Death Valley Itinerary – Day 2
- Zabriskie Point
- Artist’s Palette
- Mosaic Canyon
Head to Zabriskie Point in the morning (try to make it for sunrise if you can!) for a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the badlands of Badwater Basin. You can walk up the short paved trail to the top, but can also explore along the dirt trails to the side, where you can escape the crowds.
Next up – head to Artists Drive for a scenic, 9-mile drive through colorful mountains and canyons. The start of the drive is clearly marked with a sign on the left side of the road, driving towards Badwater Basin. It will take you about 45 minutes, depending on how long you stop along the way. After about 5 miles of the drive, you will reach Artist’s Palette- a naturally multi-colored face of the mountain. There is a small parking lot and a trail where you can get out and walk to through the canyon to check it out! Pictures don’t really do it justice- this is something you need to see in person!
Once you finish the Artist’s Drive, start heading back in the direction of Los Angeles and towards your last stop- Mosaic Canyon. The gravel road to Mosaic Canyon is right across the street from the Stovepipe Wells campground near the entrance to the park. The hike is 4 miles round trip, but there is so much to see even in the first part of the hike in case you don’t want to go the whole way. The trail meanders through smooth canyon walls, making its way into a slot canyon a few minutes into the hike.
After your hike of Mosaic Canyon, start the scenic drive back to LA!
Other Things to Do in Death Valley if You Have Extra Time:
- Ubehebe Crater
- Racetrack Playa (you need 4 wheel drive for this. If you don’t have 4wd, they have Jeeps for rent in the park)
- Eureka Dunes
- Gower Gulch Loop
Things to Note about Death Valley National Park:
- The best time to visit Death Valley is in winter months, when temperatures are mild. It get can to over 110 degrees F if you go in the summer!
- You probably won’t have cell service, so print out a map!
- There are several signs along the road that make getting around pretty easy as well
- Drink lots of water!!
- Bring layers- it gets cold at night
- Drones aren’t allowed in National Parks, but once you exit the park the drive is very scenic and open if you want to get some cool shots
Death Valley Packing List
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- Nano Puff Jacket (packs up small and keeps you warm when it gets chilly at night!)
- The COLDEST Water Bottle (seriously – it stays colder than Hydroflask!)
- Hiking Boots (these are my fave)
- REI Soft Cooler (I have this and love it!)
- Cliff Bar Energy Chews (great to give you a boost of energy on hikes!)
- Sony A6000 (I’m just starting to learn photography, but this is the camera I’ve been using! I love it)
- Day Pack
- SmartWool Hiking Socks