Death Valley National Park

A comfy campout with 2 to 5 mile hikes
Driving to and sleeping at a campground
Ideal for first-timers

Surfing on sand dunes and touring colorful canyons at Death Valley National Park

Surfing on sand dunes and touring colorful canyons at Death Valley National Park

Surfing on sand dunes and touring colorful canyons at Death Valley National Park

Surfing on sand dunes and touring colorful canyons at Death Valley National Park

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Last updated
May 24, 2024

Trip · 3-day camping trip

For · Families and happy hikers

Vibe · Sun and sand

Reservations · Yes, book a site at Furnace Creek Campground

Drive · 4.5 hours from LA

Ideal dates · October to April

Pets · Welcome at camp, but not on trails

Death Valley National Park (DVNP) is a land of extremes: It's the largest national park in the country outside of Alaska at over 3.4 million acres. It's home to Badwater Basin: the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Death Valley was the hottest place on Earth ever when it reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit in July 1913! Most importantly, it's an ideal place for desert camping during the winter. From salt flats to sand dunes, Death Valley is a fascinating departure from the everyday.

Official National Park Website

Download Park Visitor's Guide

Directions to Campground

Main image credit: Nate Rickert

Stuff to know

  • There's a $30 7-day park entrance fee for each car
  • There is limited cell phone reception throughout the park so plan ahead! Limited free wifi is available at the Death Valley Lodging Company in Stovepipe Wells.
  • Summer temperatures are extremely hot. Bring extra water in your car, drive slowly to avoid accidents and engine overheating, stay hydrated, and avoid hiking in the heat.  
  • Flash floods can happen! If you're caught in a rainstorm, especially while hiking in the canyons, quickly move to higher ground!
Check the weather
Death Valley National Park

Where to camp

Furnace Creek Campground

Each campsite comes with a:

  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring
  • Space for up to 8 people
  • Two parking spots
  • Drinking water (on site)
  • Flush and vault toilets (on site)

Death Valley NP has nine campgrounds: Furnace Creek, Sunset, Texas Springs, Stovepipe Wells, Mesquite Spring, Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike, and Mahogany Flat. Furnace Creek is the only campground that can be reserved ahead of time. All others are first-come, first-serve. You won't find hot showers at any of the campgrounds, but there is drinking water and toilets at most (Emigrant, Thorndike and Mahogany Flat do not!).

Check-in: After 1 PM · Check-out: Before 2 PM

View Campground Map

Nightly Rate: $22

Furnace Creek Campground
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Itinerary

Day One

Spring in DVNP. Source: Recreation.gov

Leave LA and stop by Crowbar Cafe & Saloon for Lunch

  • Stop by Crowbar Cafe and Saloon for easy American food served in a wild west themed saloon that the kids are sure to enjoy.
  • Located at Old State Hwy 127 in Shoshone
  • Last pit stop · Chevron - Old State Hwy 127 in Shoshone

Check in and set up camp at Furnace Creek Campground

  • Set up camp, wander around the campground, and relax

Check out Harmony Borax Works for an easy afternoon hike

  • This easy 0.4 mile loop takes you through the historic remains of an old borax operation that Furnace creek was founded on. The famous 20-mule borax team reference comes from this operation. Explore the old artifacts along the trail.
  • Learn more about the history here and on the trail.
  • As a bonus, take a drive down Mustard Canyon Drive (or, bring the bikes)! This narrow one way road is passable in your average car and takes you through a scenic canyon route.

Cook up dinner and enjoy the sunset

Campfire, s'mores, and stargazing time

  • Temperatures can get down to the low-40s in Death Valley NP so be sure to bring layers and stay warm!
Death Valley is the driest place in the country. In 1929, there was not a single drop of rain recorded in Death Valley.

Day Two

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Credit: Jeremy Jones

Make brekkie, pack a lunch and day pack, and drive to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

  • This is the largest sand dune area in the park and the only dune where sand boarding is allowed!
  • How do you sand board? Bring a small snowboard with minimal bindings or a skateboard without wheels.
  • Pack plenty of water, sunscreen, sunhat, snacks, lunch, and wear closed toe shoes
  • Hike along a 2.8 mile round-trip trail through Mesquite Flat Dunes. It's considered easy, but it totally depends on the heat!
  • Check the weather before you head out and hike earlier in the day if you can. Also, conserve your energy for the next hike.

Drive to Mosaic Canyon Trailhead

  • You'll have to drive along a dirt road to reach the trailhead from Highway 190, but it's doable in a car!
  • This is a 3.6 mile out and back trail with 1,076 feet of elevation gain. It's a harder hike that requires some scrambling in areas, but you'll get to see beautiful, colorful slot canyons along the way.
  • Enjoy lunch and snacks along the trail

Head back to camp for dinner, dessert, and campfire stories

  • Enjoy your last night at Death Valley National Park!
The Timbisha tribe lived in Death Valley for a millennia. They named the area "tümpisa", which means "rock paint

Day Three

Artists Palette in Death Valley National Park
Artists Palette in Death Valley National Park

Pack up and check out before noon

  • Cook up brekkie, clean up around camp, and throw away any random pieces of litter

Head home!

Death Valley is home to the country’s lowest point, Badwater Basin, which lies at 282 feet below sea level. In addition to that, it’s only 76 miles from the highest point in the contiguous U.S., Mt. Whitney, which tops out at an elevation of 14,505 feet. In other words, the lowest and highest points in the contiguous U.S. are less than 100 miles apart!
June 1, 2024

Bewilder at LAist Super-Fun Saturday

Make wildflower seed bombs with Bezzi the Yeti at LAist's Super Fun Saturday

Event in 2 days

Bewilder Basecamp: Spooky Wonders

Join Bezzi the Yeti on her first spooky camping adventure!

Shop curated gear

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Bezzi's Pick
$399.95

NEMO 4-person Aurora Highrise

This colorful tent has plenty of standing room, is easy to set up, and pack out!

Bezzi's Pick
$249.95

NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair

Lean back, and we mean all the way back, in this comfy camp chair. You'll never want to sit up.

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$159.95

NEMO Moonlander Camp Table

We can confirm that these camp tables withstand hot bevvies and rock collections.

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Breakfast

Food For The Sole Blueberry Banana Crunch

Gluten Free • Vegan

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Breakfast

Packit Gourmet Diner Deluxe Eggs with Sausage

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Dessert

Campfire cinnamon roll ups

Vegetarian

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Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries

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Angie's Boom Chicka Pop

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce

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Summer rolls with almond butter satay

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Dan dan noodles

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Asian chicken lettuce wraps

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Pho ramen

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Curry ramen

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Peanut butter cheesecake overnight oats

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