Death Valley National Park

Photo showing a few people in Golden Canyon in Death Valley

Registration for our December 27-Jan 2st 2024-25 trip will open in late August.

Map of highlights of our trips

We have a Google map that shows many of the locations listed in this description. You can view it here.

Geologic hikes

Most of ours hikes are in the 2-5 mile range; we usually do two in a day. We’ll be adding a list and links to hiking apps here soon.

North end

  • Ubehebe Crater (AllTrails)
  • Racetrack Playa
  • Scottie’s Castle (closed “until further notice” due to extensive flood damage way back in 2015)
  • Fall Canyon (6.1 miles, 1,364)
  • The Crack (6.6 miles, 1,000 ft rise)
  • Titus Canyon (AllTrails)

Central park: Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells area

West Side Mountains

South of Furnace Creek

  • Desolation Canyon (AllTrails)
  • Ventifact Ridge (
  • Badwater Basin
  • Warm Spring Canyon
  • Willow Canyon. This is one of the few canyons with a waterfall that runs just about all year. The hike to it is fairly bland, but once we get to the water it is pretty amazing.


Adding significant content here may have to wait for my retirement in a few years, but I’m adding some links to sites and videos that you may find valuable.


  • Death Valley Geology, (47 minutes) by Andrew Dunning for the Geological Society of the Oregon Country.
    • Posted in May 2020.
    • A timeline-based presentation that gives a good history of the valley.
    • Be sure to look at the list of Chapters, they will help you find what you might be looking for.
    • An interesting trivial fact about this video is it was an early COVID-19 influenced Zoom presentation. I believe this was scheduled to be in person, but COVID shifted it online.
  • Geology overview of Death Valley National Park from Dante’s View, (6 minutes) by Shawn Willsey
    • Posted in 2020.
    • “Geology professor Shawn Willsey provides a short overview of the geology of Death Valley National Park from one of its most dramatic and scenic sites at Dantes View, high above the valley at the top of the Black Mountains.”



Links below take you to Abebooks, a network of independent used book stores. Previous editions are listed; if your budget it tight these will cost less and are still contain almost all the info that the current edition covers.

Times & temperatures


  • Mid-April: Sunrise around 6:15 am; sunset 7:20 pm (about 13 hours of daylight). On April trips we try to be back to camp before dark.
  • Late December: Sunrise around 7:00 am; sunset around 4:40 pm (about 9.75 hours of daylight). On December trips, we generally arrive back to camp after it is dark.


  • April: Average high/low: 90°F/62°F (record 113°F/23°F)
  • Dec: Average high/low: 65°F/38°F (records 89°F/19°F)

Death Valley National Monument weather page.

Spending the night

We generally stay in the area near Furnace Creek, a central location that includes several campgrounds, two hotels (one is more like a resort), restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and one of the two NPS Visitor Centers.


Photo showing the upper campsites at Texas Spring campground
  • Texas Springs. Sea level, 92 sites. First-come, first served. Potable water, restrooms, and dish-washing stations. We usually stay here in December and have never had problems getting sites.
  • Furnace Creek. -196′, 136 sites. Reservable. Potable water, restrooms, and dish-washing stations. We often reserve here for April since the park tends to be more crowded.
  • Sunset. -196′, 230 sites. First come, first served, large campground that rarely fills. This is really just our backup in case for some odd reason we weren’t able to get spots in Texas Spring or Furnace Creek. According to the DVNM website: “This location has little to no vegetation and is comprised of desert gravels. Car and tent camping is permitted however each site does not offer a fire-grate or picnic table. Campfires are not allowed in Sunset except at a few designated public areas within the campground.”


Prices vary by season, and the following prices are listed just to give you a sense of comparison between the options.

  • The Ranch at Death Valley. Most “affordable” option next to the campground–$279 when I checked. As of October, 2023, if you are over 50 and use the Promo code SENIOR30, you get 30% off the rate (requires at least three nights-but may also show up as “sold out”).
  • The Inn at Death Valley. More of a resort-type hotel, but also right nearby–$507/night when I checked.
  • Stovepipe Wells hotel. I’m not sure how the price here compares to the Ranch, and it’s about 30 minutes from Texas Spring. Prices may be $144-226/night.
  • Budget hotel options: Hotels/motels in Beatty, NV (about an hour away) are much less expensive than those in the park. Here’s a Yelp search for hotels in Beatty. A quick check of hotels in Beatty shows most less than $100/night. Here are the directions on Google maps.
    • Hotel on your way in if you want to break it into two days: Try Ridgecrest, CA. It’s about 2.5 hours away from Texas Spring if you want to stay here the night before and not have such a long drive. Here’s a Yelp listing of hotels in Ridgecrest.