If your family likes to vacation to the extreme, I highly recommend a trip to Death Valley. Death Valley National Park has the Hottest temperature in the world at a record 134°! It is the Driest with less than 2 inches of rainfall per year, a fraction of what most deserts revive. Death Valley is the Lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level.
We spent the entire day in Death Valley National Park – in 120°! We drank a LOT of water, didn’t stray too far from the car, and had an amazing experience.
I’ve always wondered what Death Valley was like and never thought of it as a vacation spot. My son, however has been wanting to visit Death Valley for years as he loves the desert. Death Valley is the perfect stop-over between Las Vegas and the coast of California.
Below is Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in North America and home of salt flats and a small amount of water. We saw the salt flats well before the basin area and wondered what it was like to touch it. Not only were we able to touch it but also walk on it. It was so strange.
You must drive through 20 Mule Team Canyon during your visit. It offers stunning, up close views as you weave through a 1-way 2.7 mile loop. My kids immediately asked to get out of the car to climb the hillsides. There were several trails that seemed to go straight up. Climbing in the heat was quite the journey but the view and experience was well worth it!
Our Nissan Pathfinder handled every hill on this unpaved road with ease and comfort.
I recently heard about the Jucy RV, it is a small 4-seater RV that you can easily drive with a custom-built interior and fully serviced RV. We saw one in Death Valley. It looks like a fun vehicle to take on an adventure, although I’m not sure about camping in the heart of Death Valley’s heat!
Another must-see at Death Valley is the Artist’s Drive. The 9 mile one-way road offers stunning views along the entire journey. The hills are various shades of color – it really looks as though it is an artist’s canvas, not multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills. We took a million pictures and hope to frame a few when we get home.
As an Ohioan all my life, I know little about the desert. We’ve had a great time exploring the Mojave Desert in Las Vegas and Red Rock Canyon National Park over the last few days. The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is what I most imagined all of the desert would be, but oddly only a small portion was all sand.
Walking the sand dunes was a once in a lifetime experience and a must if you drive through Death Valley. They are enormous, yet look as though you can walk to them with ease. We were no where close to the sand dunes with high peaks, I have no idea how far they were but they were unreachable even in the morning heat of only 90°.
There isn’t much life in Death Valley besides desert tortoise, bighorn sheep,roadrunners, jackrabbit, snacks and lizards. We saw a few lizards handing in the few spots of brush here and there.
This was the first year on vacation that my daughter took as many pictures as I did! My kids loved experiencing the desert landscape.
If you are going to hike at all in Death Valley, go before 10am or in the evening, otherwise, it is extremely dangerous. We hiked the sand dunes for about 30 minutes at 9am and each went through a bottle of water. It’s crazy hot there! Be safe!
My son loved the endless supply of sand, check out this video of him digging in the sand – it’s memorizing!
There are literally only two places within Death Valley to spend the time, get gasoline, and food. Plan your trip ahead of time! We preferred staying in the middle of Death Valley at Stovepipe Wells. They have everything – lodging, gasoline, gift shop, general store, restaurant, saloon, and even wi-fi! Read about our stay here.