Death Valley: April 3-7, 2023

Event Phone: 510-495-7035

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  • Monday-Friday; April 3-7, 2023
     April 3, 2023 - April 7, 2023
     2:00 pm - 8:00 am

Join us for three full days exploring the geology of Death Valley

This trip will be Monday-Friday, April 3-7, 2023. Monday and Friday are generally days spent driving to and from Death Valley, so we have three full days for hiking and learning.

My general Death Valley details page is here.

This year has some uncertainty due to last fall’s storms, but the roads we are taking are all open as of January 2023. Due to uncertainty of opening of North Highway, we won’t be traveling to Ubehebe Crater this year, and instead we’ll spend a day heading east to explore the Amargosa Opera House and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge just outside the park in Nevada.

Photos showing ten people at the Badwater Basin sign in Death Valley

Online Zoom Q&A sessions

Katie and I will be hosting three online Q&A sessions on Zoom. If you have questions, feel free to join us and ask.

  • Thurs, Jan 26th, 6:00 PM
  • Sat, Jan 28th, 1:00 PM (changed from original noon time)
  • Wed, Feb 1, 7:00 PM

Use this link to join the Zoom session (you’ll need Zoom on your computer or phone).

Attendance is not required, but feel free to drop in with questions, or just to say Hi. While you don’t need to be on time, timeliness is encouraged so we don’t have to repeat too much 🙂

Tentative itinerary

Itinerary is subject to changes due to weather or road conditions.

  • Optional Sunday, April 2: We may have an informal camp gathering at Ricardo Campground at Red Rock Canyon State Recreation Area on Sunday evening for those who want to split the drive into two days.
  • Mon, April 3: Arrive and settle in the first afternoon/evening (sunset is 7:11 pm)
  • Tues: First day exploring the central area of the park, including Mosaic Canyon, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and possibly a hike off Emigrant Canyon Road in the western mountains (depending on snow conditions).
  • Wed: Second day exploring the south/central end including Ventifact Ridge, Badwater Basin, and Willow Creek (a hike up an empty canyon that reaches a small creek and waterfall).
  • Thurs: Fourth day: The Amragosa Opera House, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservoir and Devils Hole; followed by an optional return through Beatty, NV for cheap gas. We will likely end with a no-host dinner at The Ranch 1849 Buffet (we do this on New Years Eve, so will likely keep the tradition for this April event).
  • Fri, April 7: Morning pack up and head home (sunrise is 6:25 am). The Trona Pinnacles are a great stop on the way out for those interested. It is outside the park, just past the town of Trona, a short distance down a dirt road.

Photo showing a few people in Golden Canyon in Death Valley

Tickets for April 2023

Tickets do not include park entrance fee

Each car must have a pass to enter the park. These can be purchased at entrance Kiosk, or passes can be bought at the Visitors’ Center.

Options for this trip:

  • Please ‘purchase’ a donation ticket for you and all members of your party. Select the level of donation ticket that best suits you.
  • Two van pool tickets are available for those who wish to join Lee & Katie in a large Ford Transit passenger van. This includes travel to and from the Davis/SF Bay Area and all travel in Death Valley.
  • Campsites: We generally find spaces in Texas Spring, which is a first-come, first-served, non-reservable campground. We will likely find spaces close together since we are not on the weekend, but if the campground does sell out (I’ve yet to experience this) the Sunset Campground that is just down the entrance road “almost always has sites available, even in peak season” (from the DV website).
  • Everyone is welcome around the campfire, regardless of where you are staying.
  • If you are staying in a larger RV, you can stay Sunset Campground, which is a short walk from the tent-only sites. Small RVs are allowed in Texas Spring.

Hotel reservations:

Several options are described here. Remember that if you stay in a hotel, you are still welcome to join us around the campfire.

We’re committing to this event, so if you plan on staying in a hotel, please reserve your room ASAP as they may sell out during April.

Registration on this site will open on January 15th, 2022, along with more details of the trip.


All attendees must be fully vaccinated in order to join us. Proof of vaccination will be required for those in carpools, and masking is encouraged in carpools.

Hiking and geology details

Reminder: I am a high school science teacher with some undergraduate work in earth sciences/geology, but am not a licensed geologist. Most trips have other members who also bring information about the natural sciences of Death Valley.


The Parks Service is not predicting a ‘super bloom’ this year, but we will still likely have some blankets of wildflowers.


  • We carry a minimal first-aid kit, and will have a satellite phone and/or emergency radio.
  • We ask for emergency contact information for all attendees. We will keep this contact information confidential.


This year, we’ll have space in our van for twp riders. We will be leaving on Sunday mid-day, and staying at Red Rock Canyon State Park that evening. This breaks the trip down into about 350 miles on Sunday and 150 on Monday–so we’ll be able to get to Texas Spring on the earlier side and get a good site.

Maintaining our time schedule for the drive down will be critical. Along with the drive down, you can ride in the van for all the day trips. Van pool pricing covers all gas, and works out to about $0.10/mile for each rider. Please read the Van pool page completely before purchasing a van pool ticket.

Van riders must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Photo showing van next to major road cut on Highway 39 in the Modoc National Forest.
Van next to major road cut on Highway 39 in the Modoc National Forest.