Death Valley Tour Itinerary
The following is a suggested itinerary for ECA’s Death Valley Tour, further customizable based on each guests’ goals:
It’s the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the entire system, and while you may have never thought of Death Valley as a destination, it is a simply a unique, incredible park spanning a massive 3,000+ square miles.
Entering from the east, our Death Valley tour will start at Dante’s View. For those willing to wake up early enough, and with the right conditions, we’ll be able to see the Milky Way from one of two national parks considered an International Dark Sky site. Regardless, the sunrise from 5,500 ft. is absolutely stunning, and the view overlooks the vast valley, giving a nice preview of what we’ll be exploring for the rest of the day.
From Dante’s View, we’ll head down a couple thousand feet to Zabriskie’s Point. This area is known for badlands rock formations, carved out over hundreds of years from the slow trickle of rain running down the dry rock. Guests will be get idea views from a gentle paved path, while the more adventurous will be able to scramble up the badlands ridges for a unique perspective.
Up next on your Death Valley tour will be a trip to the Mesquite Sand Dunes. Guests will be able to explore the dunes and take in the gnarled wood worn smooth from decades of wind, while your guide sets up a high quality lunch for the group. Changing cloud cover makes the dunes unique minute to minute and is a playground for photographers. For guest that are interested in spending more than a day in the park, this would be the point that we head north to visit Ubehebe Crater, Scotty’s Castle, and The Racetrack.
Ubehebe Crater was formed by debris from a giant volcanic explosion thousands of years ago, and guests can hike to the top of the rim all the way to the bottom of the crater itself. Scotty’s Castle is a unique Spanish-style summer home built by a Chicago oil baron in the 1920, that happened to accidentally be constructed on park land. Finally, The Racetrack involves a multi hour off road drive culminating in one of the national parks greatest mysteries: the giant boulders that appear to be moving across a completely flat surface.
The rest of the afternoon will be spent driving Artist’s Loop and walking through the multi-colored Artist’s Palate, then a hike into Golden Canyon. Golden Canyon can be as easy or adventurous as guests desire, starting with a gentle hike into the canyon itself, but including the option of more ridge scrambling ultimately going as far as Zabriskie Point which was visited earlier in our Death Valley tour.
Evening and Night
Our trip to Death Valley will culminate with a sunset visit to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America and a giant salt flat. Looking out as the sun sets behind the Panamint Range/Telescope Peak, surrounded by hexagons of salt on the ground, we will have one of the most unique photo opportunities of the entire trip.
As the sun sets behind the mountains, we will wrap up our Death Valley tour with a drive out of the park through the less frequently visited southern portion. Under the right conditions we will be able to pull over to take in the stars over the park. When there is no moon, clear visibility, and no clouds, the night sky views in Death Valley are second to none. If you’ve always lived near cities, it’s almost unbelievable that the night sky can really look like this.
On the way back, we’ll stop in Parumph for a nice dinner before returning to Las Vegas. It’s a long day, but guests will leave fulfilled and feeling that they really were able to experience all that Death Valley has to offer.
Death Valley Tour Astrophotography
For guests willing to start REALLY early or stay REALLY late, we will wrap up our Death Valley tour with some time in the less visited northern portion of the park. Under the right conditions we will be able to take in the Milky Way over the park. When there is no moon, clear visibility, and no clouds, the night sky views in Death Valley are second to none. If you’ve always lived near cities, it’s almost unbelievable that the night sky can really look like this.