What to do in Death Valley National Park

Nick

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I'm piecing together my spring break vacation and I'm trying to figure out how much time I should allocate to Death Valley and what are the must-see sights, hikes, etc. I don't really know anything about the place so I'd love some input from people who know the area. Thanks!
 

Yvonne

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one of my favorite playgrounds ;)

You have a 4x4 vehicle, right?

A perfect place is Racetrack Playa with it's moving rocks. 2-4 hours drive on a really nasty dirt road, it kills a lot of tires, so you must drive really carefully.
But the Playa and the rocks are so awesome!! Especially for sunset. There is a primitive camp nearby, Homestake drycamp, cool location.
I'm still working a TR of my 5 day trip last year.

A must see is Zabriskie Point for sunset, Mesquite Flats dunes for sunset or sunrise. Both is working fine.
Then Badwater Basin. Don't park at the big parking lot, drive for another quarter of a mile and park beside the road. Then walk out to the salt flats. There a re wonderful patterns of salt and lots of the residues are piling up in weird pattern. Great fur sunset or sunrise.

Nearby is Artist Drive and Artist Palette, a wonderful and extremely colorful area. You can walk around a little bit, there a re lots of pullouts on that drive.
What about a few hikes?

I did Wildrose Peak last year. Nice shot hike with an elevation gain of around 2200 feet. There is a wonderful campground at the trailhead. The hike is 8.4 miles long. Nearby Telescope Peak is also an option, but in March there often is still a lot of snow left and you might need crampons for that one.
Another great hike is Mosaic Canyon and also Marble Canyon.
Then there is Golden Canyon, a short hike, but really beautiful in late afternoon.

I also like some of the dirt roads in the park. Titus Canyon Road is really nice. Wonderful geological features, some old stuff from former mines left to explore.
Eureka Dunes, the highest dunes in the park. You can camp at the base of the dunes.

And a lot of old mines to explore like Skidoo, Eureka Mine.
 

Nick

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So 4x4 huh? I do have a truck but I was planning on taking my wife's Toyota Venza on this trip. It has all wheel drive and pretty good clearance (same as Outback) but not good off road tires at all. Here's a pic of a similar one, think it could make it? Audra will hurt me if I hurt her car. :eek:

So do you think this has any chance of making it in one piece? If there was one thing I wanted to see, it was the Racetrack Playa.

venza.jpg
 

Yvonne

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with that car you're probably not gonna make it to Racetrack playa. That road is a real tire eater. I have friends who had two flats on their way in.
Most parts of the road looks smooth at first glance, but they aren't. A lot of nasty rocks that kill your tires.:( That's the reason this road is a 4x4 only road, there are signs right at the beginning. I went last year with a rental SUV and it's typical regular tires. It wasn't the best combination and it took me quite a while to get there.
4 wheel drive isn't needn't in most of the places, but high clearance is really helpful. Some of the roads are kind of a little bit rough, especially when you're visiting the less popular areas like Eureka dunes, the old mines, Titus Canyon.
 

Nick

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Well that's no good. No sense in driving there if I'm not going to do it right. Might have to reconsider taking the truck.
 

pixie1339

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Well that's no good. No sense in driving there if I'm not going to do it right. Might have to reconsider taking the truck.

I agree with Yvonne's list. We did most of that stuff on our 4 day trip last year, and enjoyed all of it. I would also recommend that you take the truck for Death Valley, if only for the Racetrack, which should not be missed. You don't need 4 wheel drive, or even much clearance, but it is really rocky so you want good strong tires for that one. We entered the park via the Titus Canyon road, and that was an amazing way to start the trip. The Rhyolite ghost town is very closeby so we stopped there first. I highly recommend it.:twothumbs:One place Yvonne didn't mention that I'd throw in as a suggestion is Natural Bridge Canyon. It's a neat canyon with a cool bridge and a sweet dryfall, and the hike is quite short, so it would be easy to work in while you're in the area.
 

Yvonne

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One place Yvonne didn't mention that I'd throw in as a suggestion is Natural Bridge Canyon. It's a neat canyon with a cool bridge and a sweet dryfall, and the hike is quite short, so it would be easy to work in while you're in the area.

that one is still on my list, unfortunately I was running out of time. :)


One really cool thing when heading to Racetrack Playa: I had full cellphone reception near and at Teakettle Junction. So if you ever have a breakdown or more than one flat tire, you can call a tow service from there :D.
 
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